Art for the Expo Line: Neighborhood Reconstructed by Jessica Polzin McCoy

Artisans at Mosaika translate Jessica Polzin McCoy’s watercolor paintings into hand glazed ceramic mosaic art panels for Expo/Vermont Station.
When added together, the ten new Expo Line stations under construction will feature 176 art panels. All are currently in the fabrication phase, which means teams of artisans are translating the original designs from works on paper to durable materials ranging from hand assembled glass and ceramic mosaic to digital photographic processes on porcelain tile.

Art panels include historic architecture found in West Adams.

All the selected materials are resistant to graffiti and vandalism and guaranteed not to fade in the intense Southern California sun. Also important, these materials require minimal maintenance. This was a big consideration given the speed at which Metro’s bus and rail lines are expanding.

The Expo/Vermont Station features 24 art panels, to be spread above gateway arches and seating areas. Over a period of several months, Metro art program staff worked closely with an Art Advisory Group to create a Community Profile – an insider’s guide to the neighborhood’s history and culture created by people that live and work near the stations. Artist Jessica Polzin McCoy (more about Jessica here) used the profile as a tool to learn more about the historic architecture of the neighborhood surrounding the station.

To create the artwork designs Jessica initially took hundreds of photographs of the neighborhood. She returned to her studio with the photos and cut and pasted the photos into collaged reconstructions of the neighborhood environment. Finally, she created intricate watercolor paintings of each of the collages. Art panels over gateway arches focused on distinctive exterior spaces found in the local area such as the windows and doors of historic homes, the Felix car dealership sign and front yards. Panels above seating areas featured more private interior spaces: living rooms, a USC dorm room and the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation adjacent to the station.

The finished paintings were then sent to the art fabricator Mosaika Art & Design. A team of artisans hand glazed ceramic tile to replicate the watercolor effect Jessica was looking for. Each tile was snipped into tiny pieces that outlined the images described by the paintings. The pieces were then hand assembled into large art panels.

Mosaika will continue to work on this project over the next few months. We’ll share more photos as it moves forward.

Art panels feature local landmarks: the dinosaurs outside of the Museum of Natural History, spheres that are part an installation by Mark Lere on the USC campus and a neighborhood home.

An interior view of the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation.

A family gathered outside their home.

More ‘Art for Expo Line’:

2 replies

  1. It excited me to discover that the LA Metro has a vibrant art program to enrich and highlight the cultural particularities of the neighborhoods where each station is situated. This is exactly what I want to help create in the San Francisco Bay Area! For all of the residents who get to enjoy and use the metro in LA, you are so lucky! Here in the Bay Area, we have a long way to go to beautify our rail system. If anyone has ideas for how a caring citizen, that is I, may get a large project like this initiated, I’d love to hear them.

    Good job, LA! It makes me feel good to know that my southern neighbors are taking such efforts to create colorful, culturally rich, and interesting public spaces… especially with the input of the communities which is exactly the plan I have in mind for the Bay Area.

  2. I am really happy that the art work reflects the values , culture and heritage of this richly diverse historical area , its communities and institutions. Indeed every picture tells a story.Well done.