LCAD Instructor Wins Prestigious Prize

Tavonatti’s winning mosaic draws a crowd in Michigan.

Mia Tavonatti, a part-time mural instructor at Laguna College of Art and Design, won the $250,000 top award at Michigan’s Art Prize, for her 13-foot tall stained glass mosaic of the crucifixion of Christ.


Originally commissioned by the St. Killian Catholic Church in Mission Viejo, “The Crucifixion,” was crafted from small, hand-cut stained glass tiles, but due to construction delays Tavonatti had retained the piece. “The Art Prize Foundation owns the piece now, and I have to come up with a new altar piece for the church,” said Tavonnati, of Santa Ana.


The recognition by popular vote was Tavonatti’s second consecutive win at the De Vos Place in Grand Rapids. Last year, she took second place and received a $100,000 award. Due to that recognition, organizers invited her back this year.


Tavonatti’s work garnered close to 400,000 votes, she said. The competition drew artists from 39 countries and 43 U.S. states and included diverse mediums and genres ranging from traditional to contemporary.


Tavonatti was scheduled to teach a mural painting class at LCAD this fall, whose objective was replacing the mural obliterated last March by the Huber brothers, proprietors of the Laguna Canyon Winery. The class and project were postponed. “The Laguna Winery has not yet come up with its financial share for the mural’s replacement,” she said.


Examples of Tavonatti’s mosaic works can be seen outside the Laguna Drugstore on Broadway Street and at the Mozambique restaurant and bar, and on her website




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