Chartres les 3Rs, the organization which produces the biennial Les Recontres des Internationales de Mosaïque de Chartres (International Mosaic Encounters in Chartres), has announced the winners of the 2014 Prix Picassiette Prizes. With its self-selecting categories of Professional, Amateur Initiés (Advanced), Amateur and Youth & Groups, the event is a marvelous mash-up that places accomplished masters next to enthusiastic newcomers in the sublimely beautiful Chapelle du Lycée Fulbert.
This year, the Prix was supplemented by two satellite exhibits: Selected works by members of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) and a tribute to the incomparable Ines Morigi Berti of Ravenna at Chapelle Saint-Éman which runs through January 18. Sadly, Morigi Berti, who was a revered teacher and famed mosaicist, passed away at the age of 100 on October 26th.
The Association is an extraordinarily unique organization whose 3Rs stand for Rénovar,Restaurer,Réhabiliter (Renovate, Restore, Rehabilitate). Founder Patrick Macquaire and the 3R staff are dedicated to carrying on the mosaic tradition of “The Father” of picassiette, Raymond Isidore (1900-1964) and creating an economic revival for the Chartres area. Earlier this month, Macquire spoke at BAMM’s annual Forum about the exhibition and his organization – you can see a video of his presentation here.
We thank Marquaire for providing us with the professional images of the winners seen here and send a special shout-out to the talented Stefan Wolters for his “atmospheric” photographic contributions.
- 1st Prize: Karen Ami (USA) Dialogues (above)
- 2nd Prize: Ariane Blanquet (France) Moon
- 3rd Prize: Delphine Legal Quemener (France) Pierre and Patience
- Special Mention: Dugald MacInnes (UK) Fragile Earth
Amateurs Initiés (Advanced)
- 1st Prize: Elisabeth Foucher (France) Le Poinçonneur de Lilas
- 2nd Prize: Annie Dunlop (France) Contraste
- 3rd Prize: Angela Sanders (UK) Ice
- Special Mention: Monique Duteil (France) Ko
- Special Mention: Marie-Odile Laurent (France) La Poule Aux Ouefs D’Or Musifs
- 1st Prize: Dina Angistriotu (Belgium) Mur Non Entravant
- 2nd Prize: Joelle Laudy (France) Le Migrateur
- 3rd Prize: Rosa Coupe (France) Clin d’Oeil a La Belle Dame Ancestrale Dominant La Beauce
- Special Mention: Marianne Fiette (France) Zebres Urbains
- 1st Prize: Christine Dalibert (France) “Vague”
- 2nd Prize: Gary Drostle (UK) “Shrapnel 1914 – War Is A Gun With A Worker At Each End”
- 3rd Prize: François Thibault (France) “Autoportrait D’Apres Van Gogh”
- Special Mention: Nathalie Vin (UK) “Multiverse”
Youth and Groups
- 1st Prize: Centre d’Accueil De Jour D’Yzeure Envol La Femme A La Fleur, Hommage A Pablo Picasso
- 2nd Prize: Le colectif “Projet Theodora” D’Albi-Mosaïque Projet Theodora“
- 3rd Prize (tie): A.I.P.E.I. Empro Edelweiss Empreinte
- 3rd Prize (tie): Espace de Proximite Cite Marcel Cochin RomainVille L’Asteromainville
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association 3R and the 18th anniversary of Les Recontres des Internationales de Mosaïque de Chartres, the jurors gave prizes to two ground-breaking mosaic artists, Giovanna Galli and Gerard Brand, for their noteworthy bodies of work and personal contributions to the development of mosaic.
PREVIOUSLY ON MAN
- Following the Light: Prix Picassiette 2012 by Rosetta Berardi
- Prix Picassiette 2012 Winners Announced
- Judgement at Chartres: North American Mosaicists Win at Prix Picassiette 2010
- More Mosaics from Prix Picassiette 2010
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges
Surely, Book Paradise will look something like this . . .
. . . the stunning National Library of Latvia in Riga designed by Gunnar Birkerts, current home of BiblioMosaico, a collection of mosaics devoted to The Book created by some of the medium’s modern masters.
Bibliomosaico is the brainchild of Rosetta Berardi, editor at Edizioni del Girasole, a specialty publisher of art books based in Ravenna, Italy. Berardi conceived the exhibit in 2009 in conjunction with the first RavennaMosaico, the International Festival of Contemporary Mosaics. That year, Berardi invited nine artists to “reflect on the form of books, on the representation of a book as an object that wants to be looked at but not read, a book that is ‘not a book’, a book which may have lots its words but gained a specific conceptional meaning as an open work of art.”
Since then, over 50 artists have participated in Bibliomosaico and now 34 of their works are scattered throughout the Riga Library where visitors will discover them hidden in the stacks, reclining on book trolleys and displayed on shelves.
Some of the mosaics are quite literal, like Verdiano Marzi’s Pinocchi or Sophie Drouin’s Censure. Others, like Gerard Brand’s Six Pages in Lace and Samantha Holmes’ Absence pay homage to Ravenna’s Byzantine mosaic heritage in new and intriguing ways.
This current showing of Bibliomosaico is part of a larger mosaic-centered exchange between Riga, the current Cultural Capital for the European Union and Ravenna, which is vying for the title in 2019. Also on display in the Library are large-scale reproductions of some of Ravenna’s most iconic Byzantine treasures.
We were first charmed and delighted by Bibliomosaico during RavennaMosaico in 2011 and found it to be one of our top three favorite exhibitions for RavennaMosaico 2013.
One of our favorites from 2011 was Raniero Bittante’s Bubble Gum Italia. Three copies of the Italian constitution encrusted with red, white and green smalti adhered with used wads of bubblegum were accompanied by a video of Italians blowing bubbles. This work turned out to be far more literal than we thought at first glance. Bittante is reflecting on the 150 years of Italy’s political unity in a classical mosaic sense – each individual, regardless of race or ethnicity, is part of the whole – like the tesserae of a mosaic. Bubble gum as the “mortar” or glue that holds it together? Of course. Just think of the DNA contained in a wad of used bubble gum. Brilliant.
We think BiblioMosaico is an absolutely splendid representation of how the medium can be used to convey powerful themes and individual expression. We are going to leave you here with images from all three editions of BiblioMosaico and commentary by curator Berardi. The exhibit runs through August 30th. All photos unless noted were taken by Berardi who is also a professional photographer. Enjoy – Nancie (And don’t forget to click to enlarge)
The artist’s book denies itself nothing, it can even dare to be unreadable. Every artist gives a personal interpretation of the book using the force of substance, the plasticity of structure, the diversity of materials and bringing into play his or her own sensitivity. The results are poetical objects that challenge the writing and concentrate on technique, form and harmony.
Viewers are encouraged to watch the artwork and read it on the basis of a visual grammar. The meaning of the book is expressed without words. The book, depository of the written word, changes its function: it is no longer meant to be read, but rather looked at to.
A creative exercise that involves both young and experienced artists, who engage in the production of artworks conceived for being displayed among paper books, like jewels set in a ring.
The exhibition was originally designed to give a look of precious elegance to a space that communicates and interacts with the works in an exemplary way.
Mosaics fascinate us, and the subject of the book makes them even more enchanting. – Rosetta Berardi
When we were first approached by the Mosaic Society of Philadelphia and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens to jury a regional exhibit, we asked the organizers – Carol Shelkin, President of MSoP, and Ellen Owens, PMG’s Executive Director – what they wanted the show to accomplish. The title of the exhibit, Shattering Expectations: Mosaic 2014 is a direct reflection of their goal to shine a light on makers who use the medium to create art that is timely, relevant and engaging and, in doing so, break through some old assumptions about mosaic.
Shattering Expectations: Mosaic 2014 would place fine art mosaics within the belly of Isaiah Zagar’s massive visionary mosaic environment, The Magic Gardens of South Philadelphia. Zagar has mosaicked the interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and floors of nearly half a block of real estate to create what is, at its core, a 40 year personal diary that began as a response to a nervous breakdown. We found it a no less an all-encompassing experience than the cathedral of San Vitale in Ravenna; it is every bit as overwhelming, inspiring, transporting and, in its own way, sacred.
For the exhibiting artists to “hold their own” in the gallery space within Zagar’s Gardens, they would have to have very strong voices of their own. And they do. We selected Invited Artists Karen Kettering Dimit, Samantha Holmes and Brooks Tower and Juried Artists Yakov Hanansen, Yulia Hanansen, Rachel Sager, Carol Talkov, and Carol Stirton-Broad because their concepts and visions are as strong as their mastery of mosaic techniques. This is a group of highly-accomplished artists, most of whom have multiple award-winning works in their portfolios.
Climate change, technology, feminism, self-discovery, science, history, popular culture, beauty and the nature of mosaic itself are all explored within Shattering Expectations. With multiple works from each artist and the extremely thoughtful staging by Owens the exhibit works beautifully.
During the opening attended by 400 people – the largest opening of any PMG exhibition to date – we were delighted to watch visitors become strongly engaged with the art on the walls. It was just plain noisy in there! People pointed, got nose-close and selfied next to favorite works. The tech-savvy scanned the QR codes provided on the info panels to listen to prerecorded interviews with the artists.
For the artists, all of whom were there, it was a rare and personally rewarding opportunity to interact one-on-one with viewers. Marvelous moments of serendipity ensued – “That’s Jupiter!” exclaimed a gentleman upon spying Yulia Hanansen’s Great Red Spot. A subsequent conversation with the artist revealed that the man was connected with the Physics Department at the University of Pennsylvania. Much to Hanansen’s delight, he extended an invitation for a private tour of the school’s Rittenhouse Observatory.
Glorious spring weather the opening weekend brought over 1,100 visitors to the Gardens, some of whom participated in a workshop held beneath work by Yakov Hanansen.
Equally important, on Saturday March 8, there was a private showing of the exhibit for a group of 47 art collectors from the James Renwick Alliance (JRA) of Washington DC. JRA supports the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery with education programs on American craft and also makes acquisitions for the museum’s collection. A presentation on the mosaic renaissance occuring in the US and a walkthrough of the exhibit with the artists was the beginning of what we hope will be an ongoing conversation about modern mosaic with this important art institution.
With those 400 people at the opening, another 1,100 the first weekend and 6 sales since Shattering Expectations: Mosaic 2014 opened on March 7th we would have to say that Philadelphia is definitely a mosaic kind of town. The exhibit runs through April 20th, so there is still time to experience some great modern mosaics within one of the world’s most extraordinary mosaic environments. What follows is a brief look at work from each of the 8 artists in the exhibit.
Karen Kettering Dimit, Invited Artist
We have long appreciated Dimit’s in-depth mosaic exploration of themes that have great meaning for her. She is marvelous at exploiting the natural attributes and cultural associations of her materials to create imagery that can be haunting, thought provoking and delightful.
In her Subway Goddesses series, Dimit juxtaposes ancient female archetypes with the “goddesses” of today to examine how cultural stereotypes have impacted her own sense of self esteem. In Miss Willendorf 2008, we see the “Venus of Willendorf “ c. 28,000 B.C.E. – 25,000 B.C.E. recast in designer jeans, Spandex t-shirt and lovelorn tattoos.
A second series is devoted to the silent sentinels of New York City – its iconic water towers. Using natural stone and minerals, Dimit paints an apocalyptic sky in NYC Watertower XII; another example of her masterly use of materials. A similar work exhibited, NYC Watertower IX, has recently been sold to a mother with an autistic child who “became strongly engaged” with the work. No higher praise . . .
Yakov Hanansen, Juried Artist
If there were ever an example of how a photograph does not do a mosaic justice, it would be any image taken of Yakov Hanansen’s stunning work Brain.
We loved this in a jpeg, but in person it was just a knock out. There were worlds within worlds composed of smalti, the rims of ceramic plates, and exquisitely hand-sculpted tesserae in this mosaic. Light is manipulated through relief, reflection, texture and shape. Shadows are everything. “White is the compilation of all colors,” Hanansen told us. “The brain is a universe that we are still exploring.” We could easily have spent hours exploring this work which proved to be magnetic for everyone who came within three feet of it. Something about the intricacy and symmetry in Brain is enormously compelling. Hanansen is very much a mosaic philosopher and his work stands at the intersection of science, cosmology and art.
Hanansen was classically trained as a mosaic muralist in Russia but now maintains a studio and school with his wife, Angele, in New York City. While his commission work for architectural installations is often very vivid, since the 1980s his personal work has all been in white. Hanansen is also the father of stained glass mosaic artist Yulia Hanansen, whose work is noteworthy for her marvelous, painterly use of color. An article by Philadelphia writer Paul Anater about this father daughter mosaic duo appeared in the 2010 edition of Mosaic Art NOW.
Yulia Hanansen, Juried Artist
Even as she is the daughter of a mosaicist trained in the classical European tradition, Yulia Hanansen is a thoroughly American mosaic artist blazing artistic trails in a material generally eschewed by the Europeans – stained glass. Her “layered mosaic” technique is an innovation she created to add the mosaic element of “relief” to a material that traditionalists find too flat. When she points this technique and her artistic training on the astronomical and ecological themes that are her inspiration, the result, as we noted above with Great Red Spot, draws the viewer in instantly.
It can take Hanansen as long as three years to accumulate the materials for a mosaic she has planned. This patience and care is often rewarded; Great Red Spot was selected as Best in Show in the Society of Mosaic Artist’s Mosaic Arts International 2011.
Displaced Hurricane is part of a series Hanansen is doing on global warming and potential disruptions to water supplies across the planet. In this work, we have a satellite’s view of a hurricane system devastating crop circles.
Samantha Holmes, Invited Artist
Samantha Holmes academic credentials provide clues to what drives her as artist working in mosaic; she holds a BA from Harvard and was recently awarded an MFA in Experimental Mosaic from the Academia di Belli Arti in Ravenna. She is passionate about bringing intelligence and relevancy to modern mosaic and has put that passion into action with great success; the American artist has already represented Italy in an exhibit in Paris and won several prestigious European mosaic prizes including the Innovation Award for the Young Artists & Mosaic Competition in Ravenna. Holmes’ work combines the most essential elements of the mosaic language – foundational attributes such as individual tesserae, andamento, interstice, permanence, etc. – with the exploration of the ambiguities of modern life such as the true meaning of “home”, thwarted communications and the nature of faith.
In Aperiodic Asymmetry, the site-specific work she created for Shattering Expectations, Holmes riffs off the traditional Islamic tile patterns designed to express Divine order in houses of worship. “Aperiodic Asymmetry deals with the disparity between this notion of Divine order and the chaos of the human experience, the perfection of the underlying geometry and the inaccuracy of the individual hand” explains Holmes. Indeed, if you look closely at this mosaic, you will see how one small bit of imperfection, if allowed to grow, quickly breaks down any opportunity for unity. Aperiodioc Asymmetry looked absolutely marvelous in its Garden setting.
Rachel Sager, Juried Artist
Pennsylvania-based artist Rachel Sager is well-known for digging into the earth to source materials for her mosaics. In the four works shown in Shattering Expectations, Sager looks at the earth – and the world as she knows it – through the lens of cartography to explore personal and societal conundrums.
In Here Be Dragons, Sager compares the unknown lands depicted as danger zones filled with beastly perils by 17th century cartographers with the newly-minted cyber-lands of Facebook and Twitter. While we all flock to these new lands with their promises of connectivity and opportunity are we making ourselves vulnerable to perils yet to be discovered?
A crowd favorite at the exhibition was Printlandia, a work that was the product of a feud between Sager and her long malfunctioning printer which culminated in her demolishing the machine and having a final revenge by repurposing its carcass into a mosaic map.
Beyond what we admire about Sager’s personal art, we also have a great appreciation for the incredible work she is doing to promote the mosaic medium; organizing exhibitions, teaching classes, speaking at geological conferences and, most recently, assisting the Touchstone Center for Craft in creating a mosaic curriculum for its 2014 season. Brava.
Carol Stirton-Broad, Juried Artist
Carol Stirton-Broad is a Philadelphia artist and teacher who has explored a number of mediums from photography to fiber. Mosaic has become a major focus for her and she has studied with some of the medium’s most rigorous instructors in Italy and the US. That training enabled her to transform the mundane into the sublime in two of the works selected for Shattering Expectations, From My Sister’s Garden #1 and From My Sister’s Garden #3.
Using classical mosaic techniques and materials, Stirton-Broad has given elegance and grace to cow and deer teeth that were unearthed in her sister’s rural garden. These two works are just plain beautiful. We can’t wait to see more from Stirton-Broad in the future.
Carol Talkov, Juried Artist
Carol Talkov was a successful costume and interior furnishings fabricator before turning her life to mosaic. One can easily see how the love of the materials she works with continues in this new medium. In fact, she believes that the glass, stone, minerals and gems she works with have stories within them that can be seen when when they are placed in the right relationship with one another.
Plume agate, petrified wood, agate, geode, chalcedony, mica, travertine, smalti and sea urchin spines are just a few of the materials Talkov sourced and carefully selected to use in these dynamic works. Visitors found these works enormously appealing, often getting extraordinarily close to investigate each individual tesserae. They are delicious.
Brooks Tower, Invited Artist
We have come to think of award-winning artist Brooks Tower as a mosaic poet. Instead of using a pen or keyboard, Tower employs the heavy duty industrial tools called wet saws and band saws in his modern interpretation of an ancient mosaic technique known as opus sectile. Sometimes, his mosaics can be a limerick, as in I Told Your Sister, where a split second of street life and tension is caught in stone and tile.
Other times, Tower’s work can be likened to psyche-disturbing doggerel as in his cartoon-like No Pants, a poem with a punch line that is any performer’s greatest nightmare.
Often, though, Tower’s work are heart-tugging sonnets to the beauty of every day life, as in Quaking Oats, inspired by a simple scene at his breakfast table.
We think that Tower is one of America’s finest mosaic artists and were very pleased to have his work in this exhibit. In addition to Shattering Expectations, he is also showing work in Tulsa Oklahoma’s beautiful new Hardesty Center in a show entitled Art in Mosaic.
Shattering Expectations: Mosaic 2014 continues through April 20, 2014 at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Again, we want to thank Carol Shelkin and the Mosaic Society of Philadelphia for giving us the opportunity to play in the Gardens, Ellen Owens and the staff at the Gardens for mounting a beautiful exhibit, and Isaiah Zagar and his wife Julia for their phenomenal hospitality. Can we do this again, please?
- Karen Kettering Dimit website; see more of her work on MAN
- Yakov Hanansen website; see more of his work on MAN
- Yulia Hanansen website; see more of her work on MAN
- Samantha Holmes website; see more of her work on MAN
- Rachel Sager website: see more of her work on MAN
- Carol Stirton-Broad website
- Carol Talkov website
- Brooks Tower website; see more of his work on on MAN
- Photos of Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens, murals throughout South Philadelphia and home in an extensive gallery by Gabe Kirchheimer here
- More photos of Shattering Expectations Opening by Anabella Wewer here
Photos are provided by the artists and the author unless otherwise noted.
While we were at the SAMA conference this past spring, we had the opportunity to sit down for a long chat with the well known Japanese mosaic artist Toyoharu Kii who is also a leader in his country’s mosaic community. We both agreed that it was high time for better, stronger, more timely communications between the Eastern and Western mosaic worlds. We are excited, therefore, to publish this article by Toyoharu featuring award-winners from this year’s biennale mounted by the Mosaic Art Association in Japan. Here’s hoping for a continued lively exchange of ideas and innovation here on MAN. Enjoy – Nancie
We are happy to share these mosaic works shown at Mosaic Biennale 2013 hosted by the Mosaic Art Association in Japan (MAAJ) this past September 9th through 15th at the Yokohama Civic Gallery in Azamino, Japan. Founded in 1995, MAAJ has been hosting the Biennale since 2007 and it has become an important and valuable place for mosaic lovers to present their work to the public. Both members and non-members are encouraged to submit works. This year’s exhibition was juried by five people including Motohiro Hashimura, a veteran mosaicist, and myself.
In the prize-winning works presented here, you may notice some aspects that are common to all of them. First, marble is highly used. Second, many of the tesserae are square. Third, the grout lines are uniform. Finally, the surfaces are flat. These points indicate that Japanese mosaic artists are not yet free from their longing for Roman mosaics. This is because the information on mosaic trends and innovations from overseas is still not easy for us to obtain.
Since Japan is not physically close to Europe, we do not have the chance to see modern, energetic mosaics in person. Moreover, mosaic news is usually conveyed in English, French or Italian and so there is a language barrier which makes the situation worse. Even with these obstacles, we expect to see more vital works at MAAJ’s future exhibitions which we hope to mount on an annual basis beginning next year.
Grand Prize: Junkichi Miyauchi, Quattro Stagioni
This artist started making mosaics in the 1960s and is one of the pioneers in Japan’s mosaic community. He has departed from the Roman classic mosaic aesthetic but has continued to use basically square tesserae. Miyauchi’s unique characteristic exists in how he carefully shapes his tesserae to have small, rough expressions as if the tesserae had broken up naturally even though they have been cut very purposefully. We very much appreciated the lyrical expression throughout these works.
Second Prize: Nobue Ozaki Flower Goat & Osmunda Bird
Nobue Ozaki uses tesserae in the traditional way but we found a great sense of fun in the forms of her panels and the motifs she used. Most of the works in this year’s exhibition were serious and only a few came from playful minds. In that context, we chose her work.
Third Prize: Hisao Matsuo Don’t Tell What Was Seen in Woods
0.1 inch square marble tesserae are placed densely. We considered that the cumulation of the tesserae in this work is more than that of the mere stone materials that were used to make it and it is like it has been transformed into the image itself. The artist has achieved a highly elaborate expression and so he was awarded a prize.
Honorable Mention: Toshimi Mori AMBIVALENCE 1309
We valued the artist’s experimental attitude using also untraditional materials such as metal plates, woods and etc. not only the traditional ones. We hope other artists also will go beyond their existing standards, trying various ways of expression.
Encouraging Prize: Yoshimi Aizawa Following My Memories of Mt. ASO
This artist has ongoing poor sight and has difficulties in seeing the weak light. She built an image of a mountain scenery with her friend giving her the description of it on the mountain. We can feel her desire by any means to embody and express the things she can see. Also the materials are elaborately selected and made.
Encouraging Work: Kayoko Nakai The Bird Remembers His Life, 44″ H x 44″ W.
We see that this artist is still acquiring skills in working with tile, but appreciate her obvious will to devise new ways to work with this material as well as her sense of freedom and fun.
She has just graduated from university. She experienced mosaic at a workshop in the school and was fascinated began to make by herself. We wanted support her.
Juror’s Work: Motohiro Hashimura The Wind in the Sky
This the maquette of a much larger public work. It has “spreadingness”and is refreshing.
Juror’s Work: Toyoharu Kii, On the Way of Walking
This is my work. Italian marble called Perlino is used. I fear that it was made somewhat too compact and modest. I need more vigorous and wild tesserae.
We beg to differ with Toyoharu about the quality of this work which we see as another wonderful example of his mastery of positive and negative space, rhythm, texture and pattern. Many thanks to the artist for this article, his photographs, and the continued inspiration he provides to artists worldwide.