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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
October 18, 2004
Volume 40, Number 3

WeissmanWeissman delivers design encore
Terrazzo replaces rugs in UNM Center for the Arts


By Laurie Mellas Ramirez

Terrazzo, or tile made of small colorful aggregates – marble, glass, shell and stone – has assumed the role of three bold, abstract art rugs in the UNM Center for the Arts.
        
Admirers of the original cast of carpets, early hallmarks of a mid 1990s remodel, will not be disappointed, though. The artist, Joan Weissman, presented a splendid encore recently, replicating the original woven designs.
        
Weissman's Terrazzo replicate near Keller Hall, Center for the ArtsIn 1996, the New Mexico Arts in Public Places commissioned Weissman, a local artist and UNM alumna, to create the rugs. Gracing the entrances to Popejoy Hall, Keller Hall and the University Art Museum, they suffered wear and tear over time.
Last year, the university asked Weissman to replace the rugs with a solid-surface, built-in installation that would retain the visual appeal of the carpets but be easier to maintain. Popejoy Hall alone serves nearly 250,000 patrons each year.

“It’s a nice translation to terrazzo and a lovely replacement for the carpets,” said Tom Tkach, UNM Public Events director. “We’ve received nothing but compliments. We encourage everyone to come by and see this beautiful addition to our facility.”

Weissman considered various materials – inlaid stone, tile and mosaic, but chose terrazzo for its brilliant range of color, versatility of design and compatibility with current architecture.
“With roots in Egyptian and Roman mosaic, it was perfected in 15th century Venice and has been used throughout the world since then. Unfortunately, it fell somewhat out of fashion after being widely used in the U.S. in the 1940s and 50s. It’s wonderful qualities deserve a revival as a major design element in architecture,” Weissman said.

Installation began with removal of the old carpets and two inches of grout base from the original flooring. An epoxy-based mixture was applied to refill the space and provide a suitable surface for the new installation. Black and white scale drawings were blown up to full size, placed on the floor and perforated. The designs were then transferred with spray paint through the perforations.

On hand to help with project intricacies were an expert installation crew from Corradini Corporation in California and Michael Jerome, architectural associate, UNM Facility Planning.

Functional art is a preference for Weissman, who earned a bachelor of university of studies from UNM in 1974.

“It means a lot to have my work permanently represented on the UNM Campus. I liked hearing people comment about the rugs when they came to Popejoy or other activities at the Center for the Arts. Now I look forward to their reactions when they see the familiar pieces transformed,” she said.