Trade Street Wall

Public Mosaics by Mike Mandel, in Spectrum CenterCharlotte, NC

Public Mosaics by Mike Mandel seen at Spectrum Center, Charlotte - Trade Street Wall
Public Mosaics by Mike Mandel seen at Spectrum Center, Charlotte - Trade Street WallPublic Mosaics by Mike Mandel seen at Spectrum Center, Charlotte - Trade Street Wall
1 inch porcelain and glass tile mosaic 27’ x 102’ The Trade Street Wall recognizes the many layers of culture that comprise Charlotte’s basketball history: college, textile mill, high school and YMCA. Joining Hanes Hosiery’s Sara Parker Stroud from the 1950’s textile league are contemporary college athletes from Davidson College and Johnson C. Smith University, both local Charlotte area colleges. It may look like the Davidson player and the JC Smith player are in the same game, gazing upwards for the ball, but they are not. The images derive from two separate photographs. What interests me is their expressions. The ball is in the air. The result of the play might be points for the team, or it might not. In a wider context, the imagery of these two players communicates expectation, uncertainty, even hope. Another aspect this design is that the three main figures are seen as connected in proximity and yet diverse in the color and design of their uniforms, and by race and gender. In designing an artwork ostensibly about basketball it’s extremely important to me that the artwork communicates on multiple levels. It’s this layered meaning that is evocative of more than just the game at hand. When we play a game we have license to act out all of the emotions connected with competition: joy, sadness, frustration, success or failure. If the design can resonate these more universal associations then the project an become a work of art. So, that expression of expectation and hope is key to the significance of this design, and it refers to the anticipation that we all have in our own lives that things will go our way. The background imagery includes imagery from an early twentieth century African American college women (Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC, 1934), YMCA basketball (Cannon Y, Kannopolis, NC 1936), and early twentieth century public high school girls (Central High School, Charlotte, 1926. The team images reinforce the fact that the game is a team effort, and that there is a long legacy of men and women’s teams of racial diversity that are recognized.

Meet the Creator

""Over a period of thirty years I have designed both temporary (billboards) and permanent (tile mosaic) artworks specifically for public sites. My work has been primarily focused on public art projects transforming photographic imagery into largescale glass and porcelain tile mosaic murals. In 1974 I received a Masters in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute, concentrating in Photography. Among my awards are four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship and numerous other grants and awards. My work is represented in museum collections throughout the world and I have published extensively. In 1977 Larry Sultan and I authored Evidence, a photo narrative comprised only of images that we found in government and corporate archives, such as police, fire departments, aerospace and engineering firms. The photographs were originally made as documents of crime scenes, rocket experiments, etc. But by inventing a new sequence within the book format, they come to symbolize an entirely new message about the failure of faith in progress and technology. This book has been recognized as a precursor to subsequent postmodern strategies of photo practice, and was re-published in 2004 by Distributed Art Publishers in New York. My most recent book is a collaborative effort with my wife, Chantal Zakari, entitled The State of Ata, 2010. In 2006 I was invited to participate in the 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, “Of Mice and Men,” in Berlin, Germany. In 2009 I participated in Art Basel, Switzerland, and Photo España, Madrid.

In the 1980's when I recognized that photography was becoming transformed into a digital medium I began to work with photographs on the computer. A digitized photograph is comprised of numerous square units of color called "pixels." My interest in public art and specifically in finding a way to translate photographs into a more architectural scale led me to the idea of a mosaic based on electronic imagery. A one-inch ceramic or glass tile could be considered a real-world analog to the electronic pixel, and thousands of these tiles could add up to become a wall of photographic imagery. My approach to permanent public art is to tap into the intertwined stories of history, myths, images of land and community. I recognize the documentary power of photography and find strategies to translate this energy into public design.""

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