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Update from the Mosaic Mecca of South America: Puente Alto & Isidora Paz López

On 30, Mar 2013 | 46 Comments | In Uncategorized | By Nancie

Chicarra/Cicada "Cicada chilensis" & Sahumerio (Incense) "Twedia confertiflora" Design: Nicolás Chacón. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Gonzalo San Martín & Hector Velozo

It has been over six months since we lasted visited what is quickly becoming the mosaic Mecca of South America, Puente Alto Chile, in “A Natural History Museum in Mosaic Rises in Chile: Isidora Paz López.”

Isidora Paz López

Since then, under the continued direction of Ms. López, a team of up to 60 artists has applied a total of over 3,100 square meters of mosaic to the concrete jungle of a light rail system that bifurcates the town even as it links it to the capital city of Santiago.

Sótero de Rio Station

What was once three drab metro stations and 84 eye-numbing track support columns is now a shimmering, vibrant, visually stunning celebration of the area’s flora, fauna and history. And, thanks to the city’s unparalleled commitment to mosaic, it is continuing to grow in exciting new ways.  More on that later.

In this article, we’ll update you on what is happening in Puente Alto and pay homage to the incredible team that Ms. López continually praises for their artistic and personal contributions to the project. 

The 2013 Puente Alto Mosaic Team

But first a brief history (which is by no means a substitute for the original article here). In 2011, Ms. López, an artist trained in ceramic and new to mosaic, took on a project to mosaic the external walls of Puente Alto’s sports stadium. The results were so well received that the city’s mayor, Manuel José Ossandón approached López with a new challenge – the metro stations and pillars – and a deadline – completion by the end of Ossandón’s tenure – a little over one year.

Daunted but inspired, López dreamed a very big dream – to use this space to “wake up” the people of Puente Alto to their precious natural and historical heritages. The pillars would become an outdoor natural museum. The station walls would tell compelling stories of Puente Alto’s history.  

While the deadline was missed (by just a few weeks) López’ goal of inspiring a community has been met – so much so that new challenges have been given her. But we’ll get to that a little later. Let’s get on with that update.

The Pillars

Arguably the most captivating portion of the metro mosaics project, each of the pillars is a work of art in and of itself. López and her team developed a visual language and structured palette that links the 84 pillars together.  Each starts with a photograph which is then translated into a drawing applied directly to the pillar.

Gonzalo San Martín & Nicolas Chacón

Guiña "Leopardus guigna" and Palqui "Cestrum parqui" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Gonzalo San Martín & Nicolás Chacón

The smallest cat in the Americas, the guiña has been classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature because of its rapidly vanishing numbers.  Here we see the project’s commitment to educating the town’s residents about what López refers to as “the treasure” of the region.

Lopez: "We like to start with the eyes."

Tricahue/Burrowing Parrot "Cyanoliseus patagonus" Design: Javiera Melo. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Javiera melo. Execution principal figures: Sabrina Morgado & Soledad Fuentealba

A thick black line of grout around the principal figures gives a visual “pop” that pulls them forward to the viewer.

Vizcacha "Lagidium viscacia" & Pachy "Pachyaena atriplicifolia" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Javiera Melo. Execution principle figures: Javiera Melo & Maurix Gutierrez

As you can see from the captions, a creative hierarchy has been developed that closely mirrors the way the ancient Romans worked.  The labor is divided between artists responsible for design, the more skilled artisans who complete the principal figures and finally the mighty background artists whose work can often make or break a mosaic.

Pichi/Armadillo "Zaedyus pichiy" & Mariposita de la Cordillera/Butterfly Flower "Schizanthus coccineus" Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Paulo Meyer: Pillar Director: Javiera Melo. Execution of principal figures: Javiera Melo & Soledad Fuentealba

The work is so fine and so exacting, that it is difficult to believe that everything is done on site – rain, shine or snow – using simple nippers and often standing on platforms.

Mariposa del Chagual "Castnia psittacus" & Chagual "Puya berteroniana" Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Valeria Merino. Execution principal figures: Cesar Ariel Cadiz & Mario Sobarzo

Gonzalo San Martín & Catalina Larraín

Mariposa/Butterfly "Pseodolucia chilensis" & Orquidea/Orchid "Orchidaceae chloraeinae" Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Gonzalo San Martín & Catalina Larraín

There are so many beautiful pillars, we found it difficult to pick which ones to show in the limited space here. Before we move along to the splendid stations, here are two more that we found particularly charming . . .

Skunk/Chingue "Conepatus chinga" & Clavel del campo "Muticia subulata" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing. Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Cesar Ariel Cadiz & Nicolás Chacon

Sapo Quatro Ojos/Four-eyed Toad "Pleurodema taul" & Berro Amarillo/Monkeyflower "Mimulus luteus" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar director: Valeria Merino: Execution principal figures: Isabel Cristina Gonzales & Bernarda Quezada

The Three Stations

It all started with the Elisa Correa Station, the first metro stop in Puente Alto.  Here, López chose to capture the grandeur of the Andes mountains. One side of the station is devoted to sunrise on the snowcapped peaks, the other to sunset.

Elisa correa Station "Sunrise" 130 square meters. Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Collective. Made by: Paulo Meyer, Valeria Merino & Carolina Gonzalez, Hector Velozo, Gonzalo San Martín, Javiera Melo, Alejandra Guzmán, Isidora Paz López

Elisa Correa Station "Sunset" 130 square meters. Design: Carolina Gonzalez. Drawing: Collective. Made by: Paulo Meyer, Valeria Merino, Carolina Gonzalez, Hector Velozo, Gonzalo San Martín, Javiera Melo, Alejandra Guzmán and Isidora Paz López

The design for the Sótero de Rio Station was inspired by metro riders who use this station to access the public hospital nearby. López:

There is a lot of traffic in this station – people going to and from the hospital –  and most of the time they are very sad. We decided to take a deeper look into the mountains and their waters, trying to create a space of peace and healing.  Recently, an ancient bridge – hundreds of years old – was discovered. We included it as a symbol of the passage from life to death – the light at the end of the tunnel.

The third station, Protectora de la Infancia speaks to the town’s agricultural heritage and is also an homage to the House of Orphans, Protectora de la Infancia which for over 100 years has provided for the welfare and education of children in need. Originally run by a group of nuns, the organization continues to thrive today as a non-profit.

Landscape of the valley of "Cajón del Maipo" 120 square meters. Design: Sebastián Garretón. Drawing: Claudio Gacitúa.

Fox made by Paloma Cale

The Team at work.

240 square meters of mosaic were applied to the station.  It was completed in six weeks by a team of 27 people.

The Trinchera Wall

The final portion of the metro mosaics is a long cement wall that follows the point where the metro goes underground.  Appropriately, the Trinchera design pays respect to the Puente Alto’s historical railroad. It also celebrates the “new” Puente Alto with a giant replica of the city’s shield.

One section of Trinchera wall. 80 meters long. Design: Sebastian Garretón & Isidora López. Drawing: Claudio Gacitúa

Shield of the Municipality of Puente Alto

Detail of Shield. Work by Francisco Gonzalez

A City on Fire for Mosaic

Trinchera is still a work in progress but, when complete, will bring the total mosaic surfacing in Puente Alto to over 4,000 square meters – all of it sponsored by and paid for by the Municipality of Puente Alto.

The response from the community has been tremendous. López reports that every day while the crew has been working, residents have stopped by to check on on their progress and comment on how beautiful the mosaics are. Some have even been inspired to gather shards at the end of the day for their own mosaics. A town once discounted as a “poor relation” to Santiago now has a point of pride in “acres” of beautiful art.

Inspired by the project, a woman collects tile shards for her own mosaic pursuits.

Everything about this project has been audacious – from its inception as the first art to be incorporated in a metro station in Chile to its size (it is easily the largest mosaic installation in South America) – from the astonishing development of a group of relative newcomers to mosaic into an art-making machine to its giant, beautiful, beating graphic heart in representing the “treasures” of Puente Alto.

What’s Next

Isidora Paz López , new mayor German Codina, and the City of Puente Alto have more plans for mosaic. In January of 2014, the City will host an international mosaic project.

While details are still being worked out, we can tell you this:

The Municipality of Puente Alto, Chile is commissioning 60 mosaic artists from around the world to come together in January 2014 to transform the city’s town square. The 1st International Mosaic Project is part of Puente Alto’s plan to become the center of contemporary mosaic public art in South America. Selected artists will be paid a stipend ($1,000 US) and will be hosted by the people of Puente Alto. The Project will be directed by Isidora Paz Lopez. 

That is ALL we know at this point; the application process and communications lines are still being developed.  Please watch MAN’s Facebook Page and Twitter feed for updates when we have them. We are definitely counting our frequent flyer miles.

Gracias to Isidora Paz López, her wonderful crew and the City of Puente Alto, Chile for expanding our vision of what public art can and SHOULD be – artful, uplifting, educational and eternal.

Enjoy – Nancie



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  1. Barbara Nancy Richards

    I am amazed at the work of your great team but also for the high quality of the design which is consistently maintained through the entire project. In addition I cannot praise the mayor enough for his visionary idea to transform the town into a world capital of the art of mosaic. I adore Chile and mosaic. I’m a textile artist making art quilts inspired by Nature and find a great inspiration all that you are doing Isidora. Look forward to seeing more on the project!

  2. Daniela

    I’m from Puente Alto, thank you for this wonderful work! It’s really AMAZING! 🙂

  3. leo jimenez

    …un trabajo espectacular…la intervención urbana de cualquier índole y con cualquier intensión es muy bien recibida…y si es con expresión real aun mejor…muchas felicidades por tan hermosa obra para Isidora y todo el equipo…por otra parte quisiera hacer algunas consultas técnicas…si existiera la posibilidad que algún personaje me diera el correo de Isidora se los agradecería!!!!

  4. Maria Jose Del Canto

    Hola, Hace mucho tiempo,por casualidad fui introducida al mosaico, y como a la mayoria nos sucede…me fascino. Empece a crear y dentro de poco se transformo en un pequeno negocio (que ayudo para irme a viajar por el mundo) Despues de 12 anos…no he dejado de pensar en volver a hacer mosaicos y ahora que pienso en volver a Chile….mi sueno es aportar a mi pais con este maravilloso arte.
    En Septiembre de este ano(2013) voy a italia a un curso muy interesante de Mosaico,donde aprendere nuevas tecnicas e ideas y buscando informacion de este en Chile..encontre esta pagina.
    Me encantaria participar en el siguiente proyecto de Enero, seria un honor aprender de otros artistas y una experiencia inolvidable.
    Si puedes orientarme donde puedo acercarme,te lo agradeceria un monton!
    Light & Love

    Maria Jose

  5. Silnara Oliveira

    Alguém pode me informar se é fácil pra quem está hospedado em Providencia, ir até Puente Alto ver estas maravilhas?!!! Desde já, agradeço!

  6. veronica ovalle roa

    Orgullosa de ser Puentealtina y de haber tenido un buen alcalde Manuel José Ossandón, que tuvo la idea de esta gran obra de arte que cambia y hermosea nuestra ciudad, al punto de ser reconocida por una revista extranjera.

  7. viviana

    feliz y orgullosa de este lindo trabajo,y que este en puente alto.donde elegí vivir ya hace 16 años.cada vez mas agradezco a DIOS por vivir aquí,y con obras y acontecimientos de este nivel.gracias al ex alcalde don JOSE MANUEL OSSANDON que ha hecho crecer la comuna de puente alto y con esto recorra el mundo.

  8. Rebeca Carrillo

    Realmente desde que lo vi por primera vez me enamore del trabajo maravilloso que estaban haciendo. La verdad es que con solo mirarlo, el dia ya es hermoso. Muchas gracias a quienes hicieron esto posible.

  9. Osca Aranda Espíndola

    Como puentealtino muy orgulloso por la titanica y hermosa obra de arte que realizaron en los pilares y estaciones del metro. Como tambien se debe destacar que esta obra se realizo durante el mandato del mejor alcalde de Chile Don manuel Jose ossandon Irrarazabal quien transformo la comuna de Puente Alto en mas ciudad con grandes progresos.

    • Nancie

      Google Translation: As puentealtino very proud of the titanic and beautiful work of art made ​​in the pillars and underground stations. As well it should be noted that this work was done during the tenure of Chile’s best mayor Don Manuel Jose Ossandon Irrarazabal who transformed the Puente Alto city in more rapid progress.

  10. alejandra espinoza guzman

    Estoy ORGULLOSA de vuestra labor, han puesto una hermosura inigualable en todas las estaciones cada vez que vuelto a Puente Alto me doy una vueltecita para admirar vuestro trabajo por fin salieron los rayados y los afiches que ensuciaban nuestra querida tierra, adolescente camina por donde hoy va el metro de liceo A115 HASTA EL PARADERO 25 DE VICUÑA MACKENNA, larga caminata , pero hoy es un placer ver cada pilar de las estaciones FELICITACIONES !!!!!

    • Nancie

      Google Translation: I’m PROUD of your work, have a beauty unmatched in all seasons whenever Puente Alto again I take a little stroll to admire your work finally came out scratched and posters littered our beloved land, teenager today will walk where lyceum meter A115 UNTIL 25 VICUNA PARADERO MACKENNA, long walk, but today is a pleasure to see each pillar stations CONGRATULATIONS!!

  11. Luisa

    son muy hermosos me siento muy orgullosa de ser puentealtina y cuando viajo no me canso de admirar esta gran obra mis felicitaciones a todos los artistas.

  12. Sian

    Why can’t we do more of this stuff in Toronto!!!!

    Very incredible stuff gyes!!

  13. Jeroen

    This project(and more to come) puts the comunity of Puente Alto eternaly on the global mosaic map!
    Compliments to you Isodora and your great team…IMPRESSIVE !

    • Jeroen Meijer

      Sorry, I mean Isidora of course

    • Isidora

      Thanks a lot Jeroen ! …I will keep your generous words “eternally on the global mosaic map”! Sounds epic ! Thanks!

  14. Viviane wolff

    Un travail exceptionnel, d une grande finesse et d un realisme epoustouflant !!!
    Bravo !

  15. Karen Baker

    Great article, Wonderful mosaic accomplishment by Isidora and her team. Looking forward to seeing Puente Alto mosaic masterpieces in real life!

    • Isidora

      Thanks Karen! Yes ! This is a great article and a big honor for us !
      I am very happy and grateful… hope to see you in Chile the next summer 😉

  16. Brenda Pettitt

    Truely inspirational, both personally and for what a communty can achieve together. The quality of the mosaics are outstanding. I have seen mosaics done in my community and they are very poor relations compared to this beautiful work. Congratulations to all involved and to the municipality with the foesight to see the many benefits of mosaics, both to the viewers and creators.

    • Nancie

      They are inspirational, aren’t they Brenda? Something I noted in the first article but failed to in the second is that all of the artists working on the mosaics are/were students in the art department at the University of Chile. They have the formal art training that many participating in community mosaics lack.

    • Isidora

      Thanks a lot Brenda! This was a fantastic experience of collective creation and as you say the viewers and creators are very thankful for all what has been done, also the neighbours. In this project everybody winn and what impresses me more is to see that now that the commune of Puente Alto has a new identity with the Mosaics.

      • Debbie Sullivan

        I am in awe! You and your team are simply amazing! Such beautiful work! Just love it. 🙂

  17. Angeles del Pozo

    Es preciosa la cigarra, me encanta como has conseguido la transparencia de las alas. Cuanto aprendo contigo y tu equipo, sois una eterna fuente de inspiración y estímulo. gracias por compartir.

    • Nancie

      Translation via Google Translate: Beautiful cicadas, I love how you got the transparency of the wings. As I learn with you and your team, you are an eternal source of inspiration and encouragement. thanks for sharing.

  18. Lillian Sizemore

    Brava Isidora and Team, i hope your effort in Puento Alto and the upcoming international gathering will serve to inspire and provide a roadmap for other municipalities around the world and tap into the vast amount of talent available in every city, to provide jobs and beautify our urbanized world. I love the Walking stick, the mariposa and the dragonfly…but hard to say…they are all so beautiful. The long landscapes are gorgeous.

    • Isidora

      Thanks Lillian! Yes ! I also hope that this project can highlight how positive is the integration of the art to the city and inspire others municipalities and artists.

  19. Milagros Navarrete

    Felicitaciones a todos los artistas que han trabajado en este maravilloso proyecto al aire libre, así todos podemos recrearnos de la hermosa naturaleza de una parte de Chile. Reitero las felicitaciones, los créditos son de ustedes.¡¡VIVA EL ARTE!!!!

    • Nancie

      Translation courtesy of Google Translate: Congratulations to all the artists who have worked in this wonderful outdoor project, so we can actually enjoy all the beautiful nature of part of Chile. Reiterate the congratulations, the credits are yours. VIVA ART!!

    • Isidora

      Muchas gracias Milagros!

  20. Melanie Watts Mosaics

    What an amazing article … beautiful imagery and descriptions ! Wonderful life transforming Mosaic Art … 🙂 I do small scale work with vulnerable people and see the huge benefits mosaic makes … healing to make and stunning to view ! Keep up the amazing work x

    • Isidora

      Yes ! What an amazing article !!! I am very grateful for this huge recognition that make Mosaic Art Now to our work…is great ! Thanks Melanie !

      • Liliana Daraio

        Envidiable lo que hacen.Yo formo parte de un grupo muy pequeño de mosaico,en una localidad pequeña de la provincia de Buenos aires,Argentina,hemos hecho algunas intervenciones públicas a cargo de la profesora Maria Izurieta.Pero este proyecto es grandioso,los felicito de todo corazon.Cundo pase por Chile no voy a dejar de ir a conocer esos mosaicos.Abrazo

  21. Sé van Weert

    The marvel of Puente Alto cannot be shown enough. People from all over the world are in awe of this magnificent work and willing to come and see it in reality. Me, too!
    Thanks for this great article…..

  22. Angela Kingshott

    I also enjoyed reading the article and looking at the amazing mosaic work – wonderful… the town has been truly blessed and enriched…

  23. Adriana Mufarrege

    Hi from Argentina.
    I’m so pleased, both as a mosaic artist and as a South American, to see this new article about Puentealto. Looking forward to knowing the application rules!

    • Isidora

      Gracias Adriana ! Que lindo que este sea un orgullo compartido, me emociona…

  24. Liliane Jonckheere

    Congratulations to the whole team and to the city for this mighty and wonderful project.

  25. Janet

    I really enjoyed reading both articles about this amazing project. I’m so glad you included all those great photos. Wouldn’t it be something to visit this town and see it all in person????

    • Nancie

      Thanks for the comment, Janet. Truly, it is difficult to limit the number of photos about Puente Alto. So much beautiful work has been done there.

      • Isidora

        Thanks a lot Nancie for this fabolous update!, for us mean a lot, a big reazon of happyness, shared pride for all your words! The gratitud and satisfaction for the recognition of our work grow every time more with all the wonderful comments… Infinite thanks !!!

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