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HUB Mosaic Mural Inspired By Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

If you’ve ever taken one of the HUB’s main elevators across from the Starbucks down to the building’s lower level, you’ve undoubtedly passed by a colorful, hidden mural. The artwork takes up the entirety of the walls surrounding the elevators entrance, so it’s kind of hard to miss if you’re in the area.

I only noticed the mural myself about a month ago. It’s tucked away behind the main staircase near the bookstore, down two sets of hallways, and around a corner. The mural is so off the beaten path that essentially the only way to discover it is to take an elevator.

The installation of the HUB’s mosaic mural began in 2014 as a way to transform the building’s lower level into a more inviting place while simultaneously highlighting the importance of sustainability.

Former HUB Gallery Director Ann Shields initiated the project in collaboration with the Center for Arts and Crafts, the School of Visual Arts, and Union and Student Activities. They were inspired by Isaiah Zagar’s work in Philadelphia’s Magic Gardensand decided to implement something similar at Penn State.

The groups amassed a collection of various unwanted objects from the community — including broken tiles, mirrors, dishware, discarded ceramics projects, and a whole host of other non-traditional materials — and got to work creating their own Magic Gardens.

The planning and design of the Mosaic Mural took some time on the part of the gallery’s staff. After careful trial-and-error practice, the staff developed a unique method of making their collection of recyclables stick to the walls.

First, they’d attach the objects to the walls with anything they could to get them to stick temporarily. Later, they’d then utilize a combination of mixed and dyed grout to ensure the objects stuck permanently to the wall.

“We hope that this tactile installation will inspire others to think creatively and recognize the beauty in recycling and reusing what may otherwise be discarded,” said Sarah Kipp, the HUB’s Exhibition Coordinator.

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About the Author

Emma Dieter

Emma is a senior from the ever-popular "right-outside" Philly area studying labor employment relations and PR. She's also the Student Life editor for Onward State. She has been a Penn Stater from cradle and will continue to bleed blue and white, 'til grave. She loves trashy romance novels, watching Netflix, and crying over cute videos of dogs. If you ever want to talk more with her about how great she is, or simply have other inquiries, feel free to email her at [email protected]

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