This mosaic from Pompeii is more than “spooky.” Its potent symbolism centers around mortality. Here is a description from Wikipedia:
The skull speaks. It says “Et in Arcadia ego” or simply “Vanitas.” In a first-century mosaic tabletop from a Pompeiian triclinium (now in Naples), the skull is crowned with a carpenter’s square and plumb-bob, which dangles before its empty eyesockets (Death as the great leveller), while below is an image of the ephemeral and changeable nature of life: a butterfly atop a wheel—a table for a philosopher’s symposium.
One can only imagine the conversations that were inspired by this tabletop. And since when did skulls have ears? We find that more than a little spooky.
Then there is this lovely little guy, also from Pompeii . . .
First-century AD mosaic from Pompeii of a skeleton with two wine jugs, illustrating the Epicurean philosophy which Horace called “carpe diem” (enjoy today while you can). It seems that bronze miniature jointed skeletons were handed out as gifts at dinner-parties. (VRoma: National Archaeological Museum, Naples: Barbara McManus)
Now THAT’s our kind of trick or treat!
We asked MAN followers to send us photos of their spooky creations and have these two to share:
For a completely different Halloween take, we were charmed by the mosaic below.
Goin’ Batty by Neida Mora-Maus
10″ x 12″ Perdomo smalti
14″ x 18″
History, pathos, mysticism, ancient Chinese ideograms form the layers of innuendo in Janet Kozachek’s multi-dimensional art. Working in ceramic relief, pique assiette and handmade tiles, each mosaic represents a journey into the landscape of Kozachek’s brilliant mind. She says that her recent “Archaeology” series is “an observation on the limits of memory, preservation, and on the vagaries of human conquest, both physical and ideological”.
Inspired by her travels to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ostia Antica and Xian, China, each mosaic is an excavation that unearths naked figures surrounded by fragments both literal and spiritual. Assembled spontaneously, Kozachek relies largely on “serendipity for source material in both theme and object.” The individual tesserae in Kozachek’s art are humble in origin, bone fragments, rocks, rummaged junk and salvaged material from roadside walks. Each intact figure is sculpted in white earthenware clay. Miniature tiles are inscribed in Zhuan, the 2,000 year old form of Chinese calligraphy.
As a graduate student at the Beijing Central Art Academy, Kozachek discovered the art of stone seal carving. She explains, “The ancient seals were printed on paintings to indicate mood, ownership and authorship however they also have a history in apotropaic powers of magic.” (That is the power to ward off evil.)
Each seal carving in her mosaics is created with a slip inlay technique called mishima, and translates into a phrase of enigmatic poetry, perhaps unintentionally inserted to banish any evil spirits that might be lurking amongst the shards.
An elongated oval tile in “Kneeling Woman” refers to Kozachek’s personal origins. It reads, Life From a Swamp. In Chinese, New Jersey is translated roughly as New Swamp Land. This is where she took her first breath; a concept declared in the second tile nestled in supportive proximity to the small of the woman’s back.
A tile reading Belief In The Spirit inspires the title for “Hovering Spirit”. The repeated faceless white fragments represent a powerful, inscrutable presence, as in “Three Intruding Fanatics: One Throwing a Rock”.
The central figure with his hands over his ears is doing his best to deflect the violence of dogma and the rock aimed right at his head. His home is nearby with shuttered paradoxical windows that read in Zhuan script, Without A Home and To Have A Home. The original idea was homes and homelessness, but the mosaic evolved into Kozachek’s own material defense against aggressive religious views that she wanted to deflect through her art. Her conclusion was “that the purpose of art sometimes is to maintain humanity within conflict and adversity”.
“Subclinical Harpies” illustrates the artist’s process. Kozachek’s accidentally broken handcrafted ocarina became two oval tiles. Their shapes reminded her of quail, so she created ceramic feet and heads to adorn their plump bodies. Stumbling upon a broken porcelain doll, the feminine birds sprouted arms. The square seal script tile reads, In All The World There Is No Other. Kozachek explains, “It is a line from a beloved Beijing opera sung by a soldier taking large self assured steps toward the audience while proclaiming his uniqueness in the world and reminding us all of the miracle of individuality.”
If Kozachek ever creates a tile emblematic of herself and her art, it should bear exactly the same passage: In All The World There Is No Other.
Janet Kozachek’s art is currently being exhibited in “Partnership in Social Justice” at the Stanback Museum, South Carolina. http://scsucrash.blogspot.com/2010/10/partnership-in-social-justice-featuring.html
“Tileista” is a monthly column that explores the beauty of artisan tile. JoAnn Locktov is the author of two books (Mosaic Art and Style, The Art of Mosaic Design) and numerous articles on contemporary mosaics. Her public relations firm Bella Figura Communications represents individuals and businesses in the visual and literary arts. Follow her musings on design, tile and Italy on Twitter:
|Lumen, 2010 Glass, composite, concrete, steel
4′h x 16′w x 16′d
MAN 2010 cover artist Ann Gardner (see above right hand column) recently installed her latest sculpture, “Lumen”, in the San Antonio International Airport. The mosaic-surfaced work was commissioned by the City of San Antonio.
Lumen: A measure of the power of light as perceived by the human eye
Visitors ascending the escalators at the east end of the airport’s new Terminal B will encounter a shimmering glass sculpture suspended overhead entitled “Lumen” by Seattle-based artist Ann Gardner. The sculpture is a large, sun-like circular coil that is 16 feet in diameter and comprised of a series of spiraling loops. The surface is made from thousands of small, hand-cut pieces of glass, each one backed with metal leaf to reflect the light. The glass is laid on the composite/fiberglass coil and then grouted. Gardner designed this piece to take advantage of the light emanating from the terminal skylights while using simple imagery, the sun, to honor San Antonio’s wonderful climate.
One of the things that makes Gardner unique among sculptors using mosaic is that she often makes her own tesserae, carefully selecting color, reflectivity and texture for maximum effect for each individual design. The results are always dynamic.
By her own admission, making tesserae is a tedious and time consuming task for Gardner. But the ability to design and create her own materials pays off hugely for an artist who has told MAN:
Cut into small squares with each piece placed at a slightly different angle, my glass mosaic catches light in a unique way, adding texture and complexity to a surface — it creates a shimmering skin.
|Click on any image for a larger view.|
As for inspiration, here is what Ms. Gardner told us in her MAN 2010 article:
Whether I create a sculpture for a private or a public commission, I am intersted in the same issues: I want my work to elicit an emotional response such as celebration, quietness, or calm and to facilitate a connection to that response for the viewer.
Our response: This metaphor for the sun warms up an otherwise linear and spare environment exquisitely.
To learn more about Ms. Gardner, visit her website: www.anngardner.net
To see a March 2010 MAN blog entry about Ms. Gardner’s work “Convergence”, click here
Our thanks to Lisa Jacoby for the update and photographs.
Enjoy — Nancie
Bill’s dedication to the art of mosaic took a great range of enduring forms. He created the Mosaic Atlas, allowing a world-wide community of mosiac artists and enthusiasts to share their creations and discoveries.
Somerville Museum, Somerville MA Bill Buckingham, Margaret Ryan, Evelyn Battinelli (director of the Somerville Museum), and Denise Provost (State Representative) The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The House of Representatives
Thank You, Everyone
We have been very touched by all of your kind words and thoughts in the past couple of days. It feels quite wonderful to know that the mosaic world — and we mean that literally — thinks so highly of what we knew was a very special human being.
Please know your words have been of great solace. There are no plans for a service or memorial in the near future; celebrations of Bill’s life will occur when we’ve all had a chance to breathe. If you would like to send a card or note now, please feel free to do so:
Pieces of Bill – A Virtual Exhibit on Facebook
Bill loved nothing more than to see Mosaic Rocks! materials used in contemporary mosaics. We thought that it would be a fine way to honor Bill to create a space where folks could share those mosaics with each other.
Voila! a Facebook Group entitled “Pieces of Bill.” Think of it as the Mosaic Rocks! Virtual Exhibition.
Because we are focused on so many things right now we’ve kept this opportunity simple; hence the use of Facebook. We’re sorry if you are not a member — perhaps you could get someone who is to post your photos for you.
Go. Load up those photos. Tell us who you are and what’s in them. Heck, throw in an artist statement and contact information if you’d like. Bill would love nothing more than to see an artist make a sale because of him.
Just go to Facebook, type in Pieces of Bill and you’re there.
Michael and Nancie
It is with infinite sadness that I share with you the news that Mosaic Art NOW founder Bill Buckingham passed away on Friday, October 8th after a quiet and valiant fight against cancer. His husband Michael Welch was, as always, at his side.
Bill was a special friend to many and an indefatigable supporter of contemporary mosaics and the artists who make them. Artist, entrepreneur, promoter, cheerleader, and merry maker, his shoes will never be filled.
The family is making private arrangements. Please help them get through this difficult time with your love and prayers and send any communications to me, Nancie@mosaicartnow.com.
The operations of Mosaic Art NOW and Mosaic Rocks have been halted at this time. We hope you will understand our need to concentrate on other matters. Look here for updates.
Mystic, CT . . . . “ART IN PIECES” is a contemporary mosaic exhibition of works created by nationally and internationally acclaimed mosaic artists from across the US as well as Serbia, Australia, Morocco and Canada. This will be an unusual celebration of an ancient art form that dates back thousands of years and is enjoying resurgence in popularity today. The style of work has changed considerably but the methods, language and tools are of ancient heritage. The exhibition will be the first of its kind at the Mystic Arts Center and for Southeastern Connecticut. 50 pieces by 40 artists have been selected to be on display. These art works were chosen to convey the breadth and depth of work currently being created on the mosaic frontier.
So begins the press release we received from Deb Aldo of Pietre Dure Designs about the exhibit she has organized to run October 1 through November 13th in the beautiful Mystic Arts Center. Part invitational, part juried exhibit this is a strong collection of works from some of today’s leading contemporary mosaic artists.
Below are some works from the show that were designated as Jurors’ Favorites by the selection committee consisting of Curator and Exhibit Chair Deb Aldo, Juror of Note Jo Braun, Co-Chair and MAC Faculty Member Gwen Basilica, MAC Executive Director Karen Barthelson, and local artist Alison Ives.
Let’s get back to Rachel Sager’s Eclypsis
There is much to explore in this work. An eclectic and thoughtful group of materials weave, collide, fill and divide a number of different planes.
My work continues to explore the spaces where Industry and Nature meet. The city of Pittsburgh, my hometown, has stamped it’s mark on me, and my work reflects the gritty mills, forges, and mines of. What lies beneath, geology in particular, has always fascinated me, and mosaic as a medium enables me to represent those images in an accessible and creative way. What better material to represent the earth than with stone? I weave together disparate materials: wood, metal, stone, and glass, until they begin to be stronger joined than they were apart.
MAC has also scheduled several education events in conjunction with Art in Pieces. Among them are:
Thursday, October 7
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Mosaic Demonstration with Gwen Basilica
Thursday, November 4
6:30 – 7:30PM
Durable, Colorful, Whimsical Lecture with Dr. Kathleen Coleman
Thursday, October 14
6:15 – 7:45 pm
Be a ROCK STAR with Deb Aldo
Master Class in Pebble Mosaics
Saturday and Sunday, November 13 & 14
9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Art in Pieces
October 1 through November 13, 2010 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Mystic Arts Center
9 Water Street, Mystic, CT