Mosaic Elevates Recycling to an Art Form

The Monumental Mattie mosaic art installation at the Salt Palace Convention Center puts equal rights, local history, and the power of repurposing on full display.

Author: Casey Gale       

Monumental Mattie mosaic in Salt Palace Convention Center

Monumental Mattie, which hangs in the Salt Palace Convention Center rotunda, is made entirely of carpet samples repurposed from a carpet trade show.

Hanging high in the main rotunda of Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center is a 20-foot mosaic wall hanging of a genial woman’s face that welcomes visitors while serving as a bridge to local history and the center’s future-forward focus.

Monumental Mattie, created by local artist Chad Farnes in 2018, depicts Martha Hughes Cannon, a Salt Lake City physician and suffragist who became the first female state senator elected in the United States in 1896. But it’s not just Cannon’s pioneering achievements, or the size of the piece, that make this installation so monumental. It’s how the materials used for this art installation were ingeniously repurposed from what is traditionally viewed as single-use, convention scrap. Mattie is made entirely of carpet samples (4,200 of them, to be exact), donated by CCA Global after they were used in the 2017 Carpet One Floor & Home and Flooring America trade show.

Monumental Mattie mosaic in Salt Palace Convention Center

Salt Lake City artist Chad Farnes pieced together 4,200 carpet samples to create his depiction of Martha Hughes Cannon, who in 1896 became the first female state senator elected in the U.S.

According to Floor Covering Weekly, Sharon Schenk, the event planner from CCA Global Partners, and David Willis, a project manager for the event’s decorating partner, MC2, joined forces with the Green Team Committee from Salt Palace, Mountain America Expo, Visit Salt Lake, Utah Food Services, and PSAV (now Encore) to reduce landfill contributions and the trade show’s carbon footprint. The carpet samples donated to a local art program amounted to 2,600 pounds for the project, which took more than 200 hours to complete.

Monumental Mattie is an example of our community-impact program where we donate leftover event material that was originally destined for the landfill to community partners — local nonprofits, schools, art and theater programs, and small businesses,” McKell Nelson, sustainable events coordinator for ASM Global, Salt Lake, told Convene. “The materials we donate to our community partners help build and improve their operations. Because many of our community partners are nonprofit organizations and schools, this impact can be felt even further across the community than what we could do alone. Monumental Mattie is an important example of this program because it shows what can be done with materials that might otherwise be viewed as ‘trash.’”

On Monumental Mattie’s art plaque can be found Farnes’ desire as the artist for his work to have lasting impact: “My hope is that viewers will interpret this project and further evaluate the importance of individual actions when creating a sustainable environment.”

Casey Gale is managing editor of Convene.

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