"Entangled Bank" - Mural Created for Irvine Valley College's New Life Science Building

Piece by Piece participant artists, instructors and volunteers recently completed a five-foot by fifteen foot, five panel mural for Irvine Valley College's new Life Sciences Building. The given theme was "chaos to order."


Piece by Piece artists work on transferring design to the five 3 ft x 5 ft panels.


Program Director Dawn Mendelson with Piece by Piece artists reviewing materials.

Throughout the process, we had guest artists share their talents. Visiting Artist Matt Doolin, who works with handmade tile and mosaic, worked with our artists to create sculpted shapes and creatures for the "primordial soup".

Matt demonstrating

Visiting artist Matt Doolin working with Piece by Piece artists to create clay creatures.

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Primordial soup

We received some excellent donations of recycled materials for this project, including rejected pieces from Xiem Clay Center and a local ceramic artist, as well as broken stained glass from various sources.

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We used glaze-testing tubes, both round and square, as elements in the mural.


In the last panel, which had elements representing mankind,we used tools and other metal parts including springs, a saw blade, gears and keys.

 Throughout the fabrication of this project, our artists worked together to refine the original design conceived by Dawn Mendelson. Each participating artist contributed his or her individual vision and talent. We used all types of materials, requiring us to learn new skills to shape them. In addition to the good old-fashioned hammer and standard nippers, we made use of the excellent new Revolution XT saw received as a very kind donation from Gemini Saw.

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Instructor Leigh Adams worked with Piece by Piece artist Juan, cutting a section of a ceramic bowl for the mural.

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Piece by Piece artists Juan and Jose work on panel 2.

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Assistant instructor Bea Jones with Piece by Piece artists Guadalupe and Deborah.

Julie and Guadalupe
Gale and Bea

We are grateful for our fantastic volunteers who also contributed to this mural. Shown: (top) Piece by Piece artist Guadalupe with volunteer Julie Williams. (bottom) Volunteer Gale Sorenson with Assistant Instructor Bea Jones. Not shown: volunteer Mireille Swinnen.

When the mural was complete, it made the journey down to Irvine for installation.


Lead instructor Luz Mack Durini on installation day.


In March, Piece by Piece was invited to attend the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting of the new building. Our artists received Certificates of Completion and enjoyed the moment.

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Thank you to the office of the President at Irvine Valley College and the School of Life Sciences and Technology faculty for their kind support!


Dawn Mendelson

Dawn Mendelson has provided leadership in the development of Piece by Piece since 2007. She has over time built an arts curriculum for participants that fosters learning in design, drawing, creativity and collage mosaic technique. As Piece by Piece Artistic Director, she steers the vision for workshops held at a variety of locations. Dawn specializes in pique assiette, a style of mosaic which uses recycled materials. She has been featured on HGTV and Dawn was twice selected as Educator with the Mayor's Gang Reduction Program. Her passion is working with people, especially those who are new to art, and enjoying their moments of self-discovery.