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October 16, 2019

The Story Behind Calder Library’s Colourful Mosaic

The mosaic features a collection of over 7,500 roughly two-inch stained glass triangles in a tessellating pattern, and is nothing short of stunning.

A community is more than a collection of houses. That’s one pillar, along with schools and community centres, shops and parks, with side streets and pathways connecting them all. The local library is another pillar, a place where children learn about the wide world around them with friends from their own backyard. It’s where the community comes together and fosters its future. You could say that until the library is built, a community is incomplete.

The opening of the Calder Library included artwork that encapsulates that feeling of cohesion, both in its design and construction. It’s a 15-by-7-foot mosaic of triangle patterns curated and composed by Rebecca Bayer and David Gregory of Space Make Place, but inspired by community members who spent a week in Spring 2016 creating smaller, personal, cardboard template designs. Bayer and Gregory then arranged them based on balance and beauty. “That was really the challenging part,” says Bayer. “The curation, taking these hundreds of puzzle pieces that we then put together.”

A significant immigrant population calls Calder home, and was well represented in the mosaic’s creation. Librarian Raquel “Rocky” Mann organized pattern-making workshops with the Northwest Seniors Society, Edmonton Aboriginal Seniors Centre, Edmonton Africa Centre, Al Rashid Mosque and Calder Elementary School, which collectively produced over 200 unique designs. “We wanted to engage with a broad a spectrum of community members as possible, from preschoolers to senior citizens, from different backgrounds, all walks of life, to make the mosaic reflect the local diversity,” Gregory says.

The finished product is a collection of over 7,500 roughly two-inch stained glass triangles in a tessellating pattern, and is nothing short of stunning. Depending on the season and time of day, the light shining through the library’s large front window changes the mosaic’s look, as does seeing the patterns up close versus taking it all in from afar. It’s complex, organized chaos, vibrant, full of colour and open to all kinds of interpretation and inspiration — a perfect metaphor for the Calder community.

“I hope there’s something in there for everyone,” says Bayer. “Whether you participated in the workshops or not, you’ll see something new in the mosaic each time you see it, and it has mirrored tiles in it, which gives another dimension, reflects light and reflects the viewer into the piece. So every time you see it, you see a piece of yourself.”

This article appears in the August 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.

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