Unveiling the artistry of mosaics with LATICRETE
In the heart of Carmel, Ind., a vibrant, ethereal spectacle stands tall in its Civic Square: Cosmic Flow, two colossal mosaic murals spanning four stories high and covering a massive 440 sq. ft. area. Cosmic Flow is not just a piece of public art; it’s a testament to the transformative power of creative vision and high-quality building materials.
Behind this impressive work is mosaic artist Nancy Keating (www.mosaicsgarden.com), a Carmel local whose artistic brilliance has now left an indelible mark on her hometown’s visual identity. For Keating, Cosmic Flow was not just another project; it was her largest undertaking yet and one she holds close to her heart.
According to Keating, the larger-than-life Cosmic Flow murals represent the infinite and dynamic flow of energy to the universe. The artwork’s rivers of richly-saturated, vibrant colors and luminescent white orbs floating across the shimmering backdrop of iridized black glass appear to shift based on the viewer’s perspective and the day’s changing sunlight.
The meticulous path to creating mesmerizing art
But how did this idea transform into a tangible, mesmerizing art piece adorning Carmel’s city square? The journey from concept to reality was far from straightforward. It demanded meticulous planning, careful execution and an array of innovative installation products to ensure durability and visual appeal.
To start, the project’s sheer scale posed a significant hurdle. Keating aimed to create a masterpiece that was both structurally sound and aesthetically appealing. The project’s logistics also added layers of complexity: the panels had to be safely transported from Keating’s Mosaics Garden studio more than a mile away, fitted with a steel coupling system and attached to steel struts on the building.
The next challenge was the harsh Midwest climate. Keating had to ensure that Cosmic Flow would withstand Indiana’s extreme weather conditions – from freezing temperatures and heavy rainfalls to scorching summer heat – all without losing its charm or visual vibrancy. A low-maintenance installation for the City of Carmel was also a priority.
Further emphasizing the need for a trusted installation materials system, artistic materials of the highest quality were sourced both locally and from overseas to bring this vision to life, including one-of-a-kind vibrant glass pieces and other elements from Indiana-based Kokomo Opalescent Glass and Mosaic Trader in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands.
LATICRETE products and support turn vision into reality
Keating turned to Curtis Underhill, Technical Sales Representative for LATICRETE, for guidance and advice on product selection.
“It was clear to me that such an ambitious project required not just artistic skill, but also engineering expertise,” said Keating. “Together with Curtis, we handpicked a suite of LATICRETE® products that would bring Cosmic Flow to life and ensure its long future.”
Glass Tile Adhesive Lite was chosen as the foundation for the mosaic panels, which used GoBoard from Johns Manville as the substrate. This adhesive ensures a strong bond and does not affect the design of clear and translucent tiles – both crucial considerations for the mural’s longevity and for preserving the aesthetics of the translucent tiles used to achieve Keating’s desired floating visual effects. To further enhance the design, PERMACOLOR® Select Color Kits were mixed into the adhesive to tint it a nuanced shade of light grey.
PERMACOLOR Select grout, in a striking shade of Midnight Black, became the cornerstone for completing all of the mosaic panels, not just because of its impeccable finish and durability, but also for its strength, color consistency and ease of use. The two-part grout system starts with a neutral base and can easily be customized using a PERMACOLOR Select Color Kit.
For added protection against the elements, HYDRO BAN® Waterproofing Membrane was applied to the surfaces where the mosaics would be mounted, helping to prevent water and cracks from infiltrating the artwork. Given the Midwest’s climate conditions, LATASIL™ 100% silicone sealant was used to create flexible joints that allow for potential movement caused by the region’s fluctuating temperatures.
“Cosmic Flow is rooted in the present but was built for a long-lasting future,” added Underhill.
Keating credits architect Stephen Causseaux of Indianapolis for marrying art and structure seamlessly. Contractors from F.A. Wilhelm Construction, Inc. and Poynter Sheet Metal, both of Indianapolis, were entrusted with the installation.
Art and industry: a harmonious collaboration
Today, as residents and tourists alike marvel at the Cosmic Flow mural, its story serves as a testament to artistic tenacity, innovation in construction and community spirit. Most importantly, it stands as an emblem of Nancy Keating’s artistic legacy and to the harmonious collaboration between art and industry. With every shimmering tile reflecting the Indiana sun, Cosmic Flow is a beacon of what’s possible when creativity, expertise and innovation converge.
“Public art, like this new mosaic, is so important to a city’s quality of life, not simply because it is nice to look at, but because it provides an opportunity for our residents and visitors to experience unique and inspiring art on a daily basis,” said Mayor Jim Brainard.