Art In Transit

Tom Thoune - Charlotte, NC

2005 CATS Artist in Residence

While in residence at McColl Center for Visual Art, area artist Tom Thoune created mosaic art which was incorporated into a 360' wall along Camden Road at the East/West Boulevard Light Rail Station. Thirty-three (33) separate vignettes were made from pieces of broken china, glass, pottery and handmade ceramics to fill shapes mimicking industrial cogs and recessed into the wall in the historic South End.

Early on in the project, CATS, McColl Center for Visual Art, and the artist initiated a community collection of materials for the artwork.  Through print and local media, Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents were invited to donate their whole or broken pieces of china, glassware, or ceramic pottery to the artist at his studio. The community responded enthusiastically and brought their items to Thoune, along with their stories about each donation.  When community members did not visit the artist in person, they would leave their donations in boxes outside his studio, often accompanied by a note.  "Every day I checked the drop off bins and discovered not only donated treasures but notes from the donors, sharing interesting stories about each piece!  It amazed me that people parted with such personal items, mementos, and souvenirs.  Now they are memorialized in the art wall."

There are pieces of wedding china, marbles from childhood, souvenirs from exotic trips, heirlooms and inherited objects.  One donor appreciated the Southern Railroad (SR) connection to the light rail in the South End and donated a dinner plate from SR, commemorating her husband's 40 years working for the railroad.   Like her fellow contributors, incorporation of her treasured artifact gained a new meaning once the artist included it in the art wall.

 Click here​ to read the stories in each of Thoune's 33 Mosaic Cogs. 

In addition to these community efforts, Thoune worked with children as well, conducting workshops with students at the Charlotte Montessori School, Trinity Episcopal School, and the West Blvd YMCA.  Their original ceramic artworks are part of the art wall.  During his three- month residency, Thoune's process and art was experienced by thousands of people attending exhibitions, open studios, tours and community workshops at McColl Center for Visual Art.  This uniquely interactive art project was featured three times in The Charlotte Observer as they followed the story.  The art wall is a community landmark and a permanent reminder of local history.​