WORTHINGTON -- Each tile was an individual work of art. But when all 200 pieces were put together, they created a masterpiece.
Two mosaic murals -- each composed of 200 six-inch masonite squares -- were created and assembled over the weekend at Sailboard Beach. The project, conceived by the local AOK (Art-Optimist-Kiwanis) Club, was funded through a grant from Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council and created under the supervision of professional artists Nick and Nicole Fisher of Aberdeen, S.D.
The Fischers, who are married and have three children, have done similar projects, most often with high school age students. The Worthington project, however, was purposefully multigenerational.
The first mural -- which eventually took the form of a giant turtle -- was painted Friday night and assembled Saturday morning. The Fischers had previously sketched out the design and shaded the tiles in three different values -- light, medium and dark colors -- and numbered each piece. The community artisans were then able to put their creative spins on the individual tiles.
"When somebody paints a tile, they don't know what they're painting," explained Nicole. "When we get them all put together, it creates a design."
On the turtle's shell, designs emerged that were also representative of the area: windsurfers, wind turbines, fish, feathers.
"(AOK advisor) Gail Holinka described the town and said the lake is the heart of Worthington," Nicole said about how the designs were formulated. "We used that as our inspiration. We wanted to stick with a nature theme to keep it all cohesive."
During Friday night's painting session, most of the participants were children, which added to the challenge.
"I was a little worried with the age group, which was probably 90 percent under the age of 10," said Nick. "But it turned out really well."
From the second mural, painted on Saturday, a windsurfer emerged.
"Before this, we didn't even know people windsurfed in the Midwest," said Nicole as she gazed out at the sails out on the lake.
The Fischers also brought tiles to create a third panel, a turkey to signify King Turkey Day. Due to the weather conditions, that mural will be left to be completed at a later date. Holinka envisions painting it at some KTD-related event.
The two completed panels were mounted on a wood base, using construction cement, and varnished. They will form a two-sided freestanding mural that can travel around to various locations in the city, although Holinka hopes to eventually find it a permanent home.
"I thought maybe it could be in Chautauqua Park for the summer band concerts, maybe go down to the Beach Nook area at Centennial Park, out to Olson Park," she said. "But we don't want to be moving it around forever."
Wherever it ends up, the people who participated in the mural will be able to find their individual square and know they played a part in creating a unique work of art.