Motawi Tileworks mural installed in the University Center

September 13, 2012

Tile Celebration

DEARBORN/September 13, 2012 - What started as a way to represent the international nature of the UM-Dearborn community turned into a permanent museum-quality work of art. The Flags of the United Nations mural, designed by Motawi Tileworks, was unveiled to the university community on Tuesday, September 11, in the University Center.

“This project truly represents the cultural richness of our campus,” said Stanley E. Henderson, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student life. “The richness of where students come from and what they bring to campus was something we wished to recognize.”

The mural, which spans 22 feet long by 5 feet tall, consists of ceramic tile flags of 193 United Nations member states and one larger United States Flag. The handmade ceramic tiles include all of the intricate details and colors found on the original flags of the represented countries.

When looking for a partner to work with on this large project, Motawi was quickly identified as the right choice. For more than 20 years, the artisans at Motawi Tileworks, led by founder Nawal Motawi, have hand-crafted art tile in their Ann Arbor, Michigan, studio. These distinctive tiles are known for their rich glazes and uniquely American designs, inspired by nature, art and architecture. “This was such a great undertaking for our staff; everyone had a role in the design and rendering of all of these amazing tiles,” said Motawi. “While this is your mural it will always be our baby.”

The project was commissioned to honor the retirement of Bob Behrens, former vice chancellor for business affairs, and was funded in part by a gift from Barnes & Noble Bookstore.


Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The University more than 9,100 students pursuing more than 100 bachelor's, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business and education.  A top-ranked university with a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.



Beth Marmarelli