The Great Train
2018, Private Commission, The Ruins Project, Perryopolis, PA, USA
McKees Rocks, PA, USA
6′ 11″ x 66′ 9″ x 1″
stained glass, metal objects and ceramic plaques
The site of the mosaic mural is an abandoned coal mine. At the mines entrance many cement walls and ceilings remain. Back in time the mine’s coal was shipped along the Youghiogheny River corridor by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. The railroad line is now a popular bike trail, which sits right next to the mine. The longest wall of the mine site is over 66 feet long and faces east toward the bike trail and the river. This wall is where the mural rests. The mural is a steam locomotive, tender car, coal car, and caboose. The train is the same one that ran mightily years ago carrying coal.
The mural pays homage to the mining, the steel and the railroad industries, and to all the workers that built America into what it is today. The mural is made mostly from stained glass produced locally. Small pieces of coal from the site and metal objects from the past, some rusted, are also used in the mural. There is also another layer of meaning. Built into the mural with small cut tiles of stained glass are the names of the artist’s father and grandfather. Both men were killed as the result of mining accidents.
The mural is dedicated to these two men and all miners. From the bike trail the mural can be seen through a small patch of woods. Some trees were added into the mural by leaving areas of the wall exposed. So, the wall becomes the trees – the mural then respects its surroundings. At the tip of the locomotive a dramatic patch of trees is painted onto the wall. But, remember, most of the trees are the untouched wall. Behind the train and the tress the background is painted in washes of sky blue.