- Tiling the pillars in the Newman Center Cafe.
The words faith, hope, and charity entwine with eggplants and Indian corn at the Newman Center Café. In early December, 14 art students in professors Frank Ozereko and Pat Lasch’s class installed tiles on the big, square columns of one of the campus’s popular eating spots. A mural inspired by the fantastical fruit and vegetable figures of Renaissance painter Archimboldo, also by students, went up soon after.
Last year, the center redid the café, adding granite counters in the kitchen, curtains, and a jazzy black-and-white floor. Commissioned by Deacon Lucien Miller, the new tile pieces make eye-catching focal points. The students designed, glazed, and fired the tiles, learning along the way about bas relief and the art of working with a client, with each other, and the very robust red of the walls.
“Jaws were dropping with the first pillar,” says Ozereko. With all
four now done, they’re like “jewels,” he says, each one celebrating
the theme of divine and earthly bounty but also “instilled with its
own personality.” Ozereko said that pulling it all off called for “seven-day
weeks” over the course of the fall. “Now we know it can be done,” he
says, the plan is to do it again, in other UMass Amherst settings.
Ozereko imagines the fruits of student experiments with tilemaking
techniques: “paramecia, anatomical renderings of hearts…the sky’s the