We go behind-the-scenes with Mercury Mosaics, the artisan tile company behind MSP’s new restroom wall murals.
Next time you’re in need of a pre-flight pit stop, head to MSP’s new restrooms on the south end of the Airport Mall. Bright and spacious, they’re not only a pleasant place to powder your nose, but also destinations for public art. In both the men’s room and the women’s room, guests are greeted by awe-inspiring mosaic tile walls that depict the beauty of our home state.
Created by the team at Mercury Mosaics, an artisan clay tile company in Northeast Minneapolis, the murals represent Minnesota’s glorious North Shore, our “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” and our love of nature and outdoor activities. More than 3,000 tiles, all made from scratch, comprise the two murals, according to Mercury Mosaics founder, Mercedes Austin. “We liken ourselves to a bakery for tiles,” she says.
Each tile is hand cut from clay, glazed, and baked in a kiln at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes nearly seven hours for the kiln to heat up and approximately 12 hours for it to cool down. “After the tiles bake, it’s like putting together a puzzle to create the final image,” says Caron Bell, a Mercury Mosaics artist and instructor.
MSP’s murals are comprised of tile shapes and patterns as old as the art form itself, which dates back to before the Bronze Age. “If you look at mosaics around the world and throughout time, you’ll see commonalities in the designs such as Moroccan fish scales and subway tiles, which we used at MSP,” says Caron Bell, a Mercury Mosaics artist and instructor.
The resulting images, however, are distinctly ours. Take a look next time you’re traveling through the airport, and watch the video above for a peak into the process of creating mosaic wall art.
We’re in the process of renovating restrooms throughout MSP. What Minnesota landmarks would you like to see represented in future restroom murals?
(Video music: “Waiting for Me,” by Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders)