MU’s Tiger Spot mosaic near Ellis Library is an easily recognizable landmark — not because of its artistic value but because of the large red-and-white tent that has covered it for most of its existence.
Weather damage and vandalism destroyed part of the glass mosaic shortly after it was unveiled in October 2001. Reconstructive efforts started soon after, but no specific date is set for completion.
“We’re working all the time,” said Paul Jackson, a Columbia artist who designed the project.
The reconstruction involves tedious work and only three people in the state are qualified for it, Jackson said. The tent covers the mosaic, which is 30 feet in diameter, to protect it from further damage, causing some discomfort to students walking through Lowry Mall.
“It makes it a little inconvenient to get into the library,” said Eleanor Taylor, a junior at MU.
She added that, while it is a nice design, there are more important renovations that need to be done on campus.
Jackson said he wanted to create the mosaic to promote a sense of “Tiger spirit” on campus and hopes those who see it take away a feeling of pride. Katelin Grover, a junior at MU, thinks the mosaic will add to the overall beauty of the campus, once people are able to enjoy it.
“It will be great to look at once it’s finished,” she said.
Once the restoration is complete, Campus Construction will install bricks commemorating those who gave money for the project, said MU spokesman Christian Basi. This will require cutting and replacing some of the Lowry Mall paving brick and repairing the ground where the tent pegs have stood.
The Tiger Spot is funded by alumni and people who have an interest in the unique nature of the piece. Since fund-raising began, about $207,500 has been donated, Basi said. This includes the original cost of the project, which was $180,000.
While the repairs are extensive and have taken much longer than expected, Jackson hopes people will remain patient and realize the time and effort are worth the finished product.
“I spend thousands of hours on my stomach until my hands bleed,” he said.
“We’re getting real close.”