Reflections of Surprise - CODAworx

Reflections of Surprise

Client: City of Surprise

Location: Surprise, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2008

Artwork budget: $50,000

Project Team


Niki Glen

Niki Glen Studios

Project Site

Northwest Regional Library

City of Surprise


Designed by Glen in 2008, Reflections of Surprise depicts the history and community of Surprise, Arizona. The large bas-relief mosaic that spans the outer west wall of the Northwest Regional Library incorporates mixed media mosaic, colorful clay and glass tiles, metal, and stone.
Size: 12’ x 78’. The potential past, present, and future of the community is reflected and the mural represents the positive energy of art that truly makes a difference by enhancing the community and bringing personal introspection and reflection.


The mural incorporates clay renditions of Native American baskets, petroglyphs, and local agricultural elements such as roses, citrus, and cotton; reflected outward are the White Tank Mountains, sports and recreation elements, and an aerial view of the area. Agricultural work, our connection with nature, a rich history including the American Indians from the region, and the importance of education and reading were some of the concepts included in the imagery.
The artwork enhances the existing architectural structure by adding beauty and attracting the public, building relationships and creating community.
The goal of the mural was to enhance an existing space, inviting people to gather by transitioning from the library experience of a silent world outward into a rich, colorful community plaza, linking the interior and the exterior.
The library, the created gathering place, and the art mural are the elements that provoke a back and forth phenomenon between a personal introspection and a social experience.


Reflections of Surprise is a result of the Surprise Community Art Project. Niki Glen along with a team of generous volunteer residents and local artisans worked together to design and make the clay, glass, and metal pieces that compromise the mural and tell the story of the City of Surprise.
As part of her creative process, Glen hosted community meetings to generate ideas and mosaic-making workshops to create clay pieces for the mural. Over one hundred residents participated along with the Grand Clay Club, a local clay art group, The Historical Museum, The Heard Museum, and various community experts.
Volunteers designed, created, glazed and worked on the installation. Camaraderie developed between the people who were volunteering, bringing awareness of a new sense of community.
Residents of all ages contributed ideas, images and gave their time, experience, and expertise during a whole year to make this project possible.
This mixed media project shows Glen’s approach to public art as process of evolution through public discussion and participation, brainstorming with the community to get their ideas and learn about their needs, visions and dreams.