Move over, Invader. There’s a new kid in Santiago, Chile who is taking mosaic street art to a whole new level. Exploring the intersection of art and technology, Jorge Campos, who likes to be known as Pixel, shares his images of cultural heroes and riffs on art icons with the people of Santiago where they live – in their own neighborhoods.
Here is what the artist has to say about himself:
Pixel is an artist from Santiago, Chile, who started his design career when it was still hard to think that visual design will evolve towards technologies, as it prevails today. Today, the use of technology is not only an obligation, but a responsibility, as it allows us to record our history and improve our design and artistic tools.
Street art has been a main inspiration in Pixel’s artistic development. For two years, he worked in Paris taking photos of the explosive art found on the streets, capturing works by great artists like Blek Le Rat, Jef Aérosol, Miss. Tic, Lézarts Biévre. More from the artist:
In Paris, he learned firsthand of the work of Space Invader who inspired him to research pixel and mosaic techniques. Subsequently, he studied the religious and decorative mosaics of Mesopotamia, Greece and Byzantium. He began to explore the use of the pixel to create simplified images that synthesized color and form to its limit. Now, he has reached a cohesion between photography, mosaic, and dominant technological tools to create his own signature technique.
Today, the artist is on a mission to make art easily accessible to the people of Santiago. He calls his installations “interventions” and believes that his mosaic images will inspire people to become engaged with art. And it appears to be working.
We asked the artist what the reaction has been to the mosaics:
At first, people think they are facing a painting. Approaching and touching, they realize they are in fact facing a mosaic. Then, they wonder if it was really hand made. They also play with distance to appreciate the work in detail, take photos, and when the image is revealed perfect and detailed on the small screens of their smartphones, they fall for it!
All of Pixel’s interventions include a plaque with a QR code that will take the viewer to his online portfolio. There, people can see how he makes the mosaics and find other works of his across the city.
We like Jorge Campos and what he is doing on the streets of Santiago. Bravo!
Enjoy – Nancie
Having broken through the modern mosaic barrier at the Victoria and Albert Museum with a four-wheeled, two-ton protest against the death penalty, (Entering Through the Gift Shop: Carrie Reichardt’s “Tiki Love Truck” at the V&A” ), craftivist Carrie Reichardt was given the extraordinary opportunity to expand her role in the museum’s ground-breaking Disobedient Objects exhibit (July 25, 2014 – February 1, 2015) with a project that would transform the front of that venerable institution.
Asked by the V&A’s Director and Curators to create something “playful, provocative and sincere”, Reichardt designed a full-frontal installation comprising two panels and the risers of the steps leading up to the front doors of the museum.
It was a brilliant stroke by the V&A, really. Some exhibits are promoted with banners. Others with posters. With Reichardt’s mosaics, the Disobedient Objects exhibit literally spilled out of the galleries and onto the museum’s front steps. According to Curator Catherine Flood, the final visitor figures were 417,000 making Disobedient Objects the most visited exhibition at the V&A since “Britain Can Make It” in 1946.
While many of objects inside the exhibit were artifacts, The Disobedient Mosaic Intervention was artful political activism live.
The design of the two panels was a collaborative process that included the curators for Disobedient Objects, Gavin Grindon and Catherine Flood, each of whom selected a quote for one of the panels.
Reichardt’s use of digital transfers to create custom tiles for each of her mosaics is at the core of her activist aesthetic. She blends the profane and prosaic to enormous effect in these two panels. The British pound note with the visage of the Queen fills the visor of a baton-wielding riot policeman, surveillance cameras loom and England’s ubiquitous poppies bloom. At the bottom of each panel, a “groundswell” of protest from the people; at the top energy based on the conflict below radiates outward.
We love Reichardt’s idea to use the risers on the steps of the museum to display some of her favorite quotes. The format immediately calls to mind how ticker tapes and thin strips of paper attached to carrier pigeons were once used to transmit urgent news about disasters, conflicts and possibilities.
“Think for yourself – act for others” is what has driven Carrie Reichardt to take her message of art as empowerment to disenfranchised communities in Mexico, Chile, Romania and into the marginal neighborhoods of the UK. Kudos to the V&A for giving this artist and the Treatment Rooms Collective the opportunity to turn the facade of the museum into a modern day “Speakers Corner” as part of their Disobedient Objects exhibit.
Mosaic Intervention at the V&A (2014) Made by the Treatment Rooms Collective: Luke Allen, Gary Drostle, Mark Drostle, Eoghan Ebrill, Linda Griffiths, Gabrielle Harvey-Smith, Liam Heyhow, Peter Henham, Kevin O’Donohue, Carrie Reichardt, Thayen Rich, Sian Wonnish Smith, Cerdic Thomas, Liam Thomas, Karen Wydler, Mark Wydler.
Video of Reichard’s presentation on the Intervention at The British Association for Modern Mosaic’s 2015 Forum
- Previous stories about Carrie Reichardt on MAN
- Carrie Reichardt
- Disobedient Objects Exhibit (which will be traveling to Australia later this year)
Video walk-through of the Disobedient Objects Exhibit with Curator Gavin Grindon
- February 2016 interview by Rosie Osborne on Free Spirit Homes here
Entering Through The Gift Shop: Carrie Reichardt’s “Tiki Love Truck” in the V&A’s “Disobedient Objects”
In October of 2012, we were part of a lively debate at the British Association for Modern Mosaic’s annual symposium about what it would take to get contemporary mosaic art into the hallowed halls of the Art Establishment – meaning institutions very much like the venue for that meeting – the venerable Victoria and Albert Museum.
Almost two years later, “renegade potter” and craftivist Carrie Reichardt’s two-ton mosaic protest against the death penalty, The Tiki Love Truck, literally went right through the front door AND the gift shop and then over the opus criminale mosaic floors of the V&A to become a highlight of the museum’s groundbreaking exhibit Disobedient Objects (July 20, 2014-February 1, 2015).
Disobedient Objects is “the first exhibition to explore objects of art and design from around the world that have been created by grassroots social movements as tools of social change.” Curated by Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon, the collection of 99 objects includes Suffragette teapots, hand-sewn Chilean wall hangings commemorating missing loved ones, and life-size puppets by the radical Vermont Bread and Puppets Theater.
In 2007, Reichardt was commissioned by Walk the Plank to create mosaic The Tiki Love Truck for an art car parade in Manchester. The work’s purpose changed radically when Reichardt received word that John Joe ‘Ash’ Amador, an inmate in a Texas prison Reichardt with whom Reichardt had been corresponding with for years, was scheduled to be executed. Amador asked Reichardt to witness the event and Reichardt subsequently travelled to Texas from London bringing with her sculptor Nick Reynolds. With the approval and assistance of the family, Reynolds made a death mask of Amador.
Upon returning to the UK, Reichardt dedicated the Love Truck to Amador, giving the mask pride of place on the front of the work. The artist continues to advocate strongly against the death penalty and solitary confinement of prisoners in the US.
Between October 31 and November 2nd, Reichardt turned the Tiki Love Truck into a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Shrine dedicated to the memory of her mother, Jill Richards, Luis Ramirez, Herman Wallace, John “Ash” Amador, and Khristian Oliver. With the disappearance of the 43 students in September in Iguala, Mexico, the shrine was given a second, more urgent focus.
As we write this article, it is Martin Luther King Day here in the US, and we are reminded of this quote:
The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.
Disobedient Objects has proven to be a great success for the V&A – blasting away at its image of being “England’s Attic” by showcasing works of great heart, creativity and ingenuity that are potent demands for change and, in the process, garnering strong critical acclaim for the effort (below). It is not surprising that Disobedient Objects is already slated for at least one additional international showing at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum October 30 2015 through February 14, 2016.
And Reichardt? Well, after getting through the front door of the V&A, she was asked by the curators to mosaic it. We’ll be back later this week with Reichardt’s award-winning Intervention.
UPDATE: According to Curator Catherine Flood, the final visitor figures for Disobedient Objects was 417,000 making it the most visited exhibition at the V&A since “Britain Can Make It” in 1946.
- Disobedient Objects at the V&A Exhibit — Ends February 1, 2015
- Carrie Reichardt
- Reichardt previously on MAN
- Review of Disobedient Objects from The Guardian
- Great walk-through of exhibit with Curator Gavin Grindon
- February 2016 interview by Rosie Osborne on Free Spirit Home here
We want them all. The Leopard. The Hippo. The Bear. The Llama . . . We want the whole zoological catalogue in stone by Melissa Moliterno and Andrea Poma of Aneme Mosaico.
Animals have always been the subject of mosaics.
But, Aneme Mosaico’s enchanting images were something completely new to us. Their fresh, unique approach to the subject matter immediately brought to mind the exquisite watercolor illustrations of the 1700s and 1800s.
And indeed, according to the duo . . .
“Our works are based on the careful study of the materials and colors, on the the ability to synthesize ancient mosaic techniques with the zoological catalogues of the 19th century.”
Moliterno (Cosenza, Italy 1988) and Poma (Parese, Italy, 1989) met while studying at the Ravenna Fine Arts Academy in Italy. They have both shown extensively, with Poma taking the prestigious Experimental Prize at GAEM 2013 for his innovative work Impressioni. We found this work to be a highlight of RavennaMosaico 2013. (Previous story on MAN here.)
Their collaboration in creating these glorious critters began in 2013. In 2014, they presented this body of work as Animalario in an exhibition in Ravenna. (You will want to click twice to see the large versions of these photos.)
“Pictures and stones, cement and blank papers are mixed, becoming a single entity. Our materials are chosen according to the shape, to their veining and to their composition. They are no longer regular tesserae, but anatomical ones; stones that become cheeks, paws, and ears.”
Yes, and just when you thought these works couldn’t get any more delightful, there is the panda.
Aneme Mosaico is offering these beautiful mosaics for 250Euro. We are not sure how many are left after the holidays and there are other, smaller works of birds that are equally spectacular. Please contact the artists at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions. (We should probably make it clear that MAN has no financial arrangement with Aneme Mosaico at all.)
Enjoy – Nancie
International award-winning mosaic artist and Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Sofia, Bulgaria Ilya Iliev knows what Rembrandt, Escher, Klee and VanGogh knew about the use of geometry in composing great works of art. (see ‘The Nature, The Geometry & The Materials: Iliya Iliev“) In his latest book, Ornament, Iliev offers a master class on the topic illustrated with meticulous drawings and photographic examples of how he has designed works based on geometric principles.
When we learned that British mosaic artist (and fellow mosaic traveler) Allan Punton had completed a work based on what he learned from studying Ornament we asked him to write a review of the book for MAN. Punton calls the book “a masterpiece.” We agree. Ordering information is at the end of the article. Enjoy – Nancie
Why did I buy this book? Because it was like going to see Bruce Springsteen live at Wembley and then deciding to buy all his albums; you become smitten by the man and his music. Well, it was the same for me with mosaic artist Iliya Iliev.
I was lucky enough to be included in a private view of Iliya’s retrospective exhibit at RavennaMosaico in October of 2013. Iliev was gracious in taking the time to explain each of his works to our group and I could see the sparkle in his eyes when he talked about his art. He is a master of the mosaic art form. So, when I found out about this new book, I had to get a copy.
This is more than a book; it is a cornucopia. This is not a mosaic projects book (hallelujah), nor a “how to cut stuff” tome (again, hallelujah). It is, instead, a masterpiece in explaining compositional form. In that regard it is unique – gloriously unique.
It is written in the first person in such a way that you have a real sense of the personal knowledge and research that Iliya has put into this discourse. It is also clear that his experience as a gifted professor has benefited the clarity of the text and illustrations.
It is a textbook that informs and enables the reader to study the approaches covered as developmental exercises. The more you study the content, the more you learn from the examples shown and the book is crammed full of tessellation studies.
The book’s scope is wide and progresses through the following topics: The Ornamental Motif and its Combinations, Linear Ornament, Surface Ornament, Rhythm Geometric Figures, Polygons and Polygon Grouping.
The introductory section is entitled “Let’s Start With Proportions” and Iliev shows an example of his work where he exploits the Golden Mean to demonstrate its impact on form (figure 8). Purely by coincidence, I had made a piece many years ago effecting the Golden Mean in its design, so I quickly felt that this book was going to be highly relevant to my personal approach to mosaic.
Geometric figures are explored in great detail within the book and Iliya explains their compositional variations very succinctly with examples of his own work – as he does with Snail of snails–Clam of clams (figure 133).
In the section on Polygon grouping, lliya discusses transformation and deformation of tesselation and refers to the work of MC Escher. To illustrate the text on this topic, Iliya includes several examples from Escher’s work such as how Escher turns the equilateral triangle into a tiling bird (figure 268).
I also had done some research on Escher’s approach to composition and created a composition drawn from an Escher sketch by casting glass elements in sand.
The final section of the book includes fourteen pages of Iliev’s own artwork and he has added personal notes on each one.
I am a slow reader and an even slower learner so it took me several weeks for my first journey in absorbing the contents of this book. Inspired to apply some of the book’s concepts, I began to give some thought to a suitable place to start.
A while ago, I had set aside three tree trunk off-cuts that I thought would make for an interesting project. My initial thought had been to create a compositional form sympathetic to the shape of these wooden “shells.” But, I had yet to begin doing anything with them.
As I was reading the book, these off-cuts came to my mind. Why? Because of a key sentence in the book’s Introduction; “If we assume that a square is a blank space – a symbol of unity, inserting another square within it would lead to some diversity while respecting and even underlining the basic motif.”
So, creating a design that would sit within a wood chassis and embrace/echo the form of the chassis was a creative challenge that I set for myself. I chose transparenti dalle de verre as my material for several reasons. First, because I felt that it worked well with the theme of “Inner Light”. In addition, faceting the glass would echo the texture of the thick bark of the wood chassis. And finally, with these materials I knew I could create tesserae of a size that would work well within the tessellated pattern I had in mind. I chose to use the same tonal range for the cuts within the primary pattern so that the light generated would highlight the form without distracting from the richness of colour.
Overall, I am quite happy with the outcome of this “geometric experiment” born from studying Iliev’s Ornament. It is a long way to Sofia, Bulgaria so I am very appreciative of this hard-bound “master class” that I can refer to any time I want.
Allan Punton, Arto Punto – October 2014
About the Book:
Author: Iliya Iliev
Publisher: Arhimed, 2014
Contents: 183 pages, 289 illustrative figures
Price: 25 EUR Hardcover; 20 EUR Paperback plus shipping
To order: In the US order at Wit’s End here (if out of stock, leave a message on their Contact page) or email the author at: email@example.com
Also by Allan Punton
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
BAMM’s Mosaic of the Year 2014: Tessa Hunkin & the Hackney Mosaic Project Change A Community With Art
The Romans would have approved.
The British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) recently announced that Tessa Hunkin and The Hackney Mosaic Project have received the Mosaic of the Year Award for a stunning body of work that encompasses two public installations in London; Shepherdess Walk and Hoxton Varieties.
(For full view of images, please click to enlarge)
The Jury, which consisted of Dr. Will Wooten, Lecturer in Roman Art at Kings College, Norma Vondee, President of BAMM, and your editor, was in total unison in the decision to shine a a spotlight on a series of works that are not only visually brilliant – they have changed lives.
Dr. Wooten: A Tour de force in the continued refinement of a modern visual vocabulary for figurative mosaic art.
Norma Vondee: Evergreen mosaic master at her height; relentless clarification, determination, curiosity, finish and humanity.
Nancie Mills Pipgras: Brilliant modernization of an ancient aesthetic. Clear, concise, joy-filled imagery made by volunteers. Art that has changed a neighborhood.
Hunkin, an accomplished mosaic maker and author, acted as the designer of the projects, a role the Romans called the pictor imaginarius. Her love and appreciation for the critical design components of ancient mosaics has created a lively, modern aesthetic that delights and resonates. Hunkin’s Hoxton pups are the obvious direct descendants of the hounds of the 1st Century AD.
Equally impressive to the jurors was the fact that these mosaics were all made by volunteers. The Hackney Mosaic Project is comprised of local community members and clients of Lifeline, an organization devoted to helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. These are mosaics made by the people for the people – and they are of astonishing quality.
Signatures of the makers are always included prominently in the design of the mosaics.
Just this week, Hunkin and The Hackney Mosaic Project unveiled their most recent accomplishment – The Hackney Downs Park Pavilion. British comedian Russell Brand positively nails the spirit of the project in this impromptu dedication.
The open-air theater is a mosaic menagerie with charming bugs and beasties of all shapes and sizes.
Another joyous, welcoming environment by Tessa Hunkin and The Hackney Mosaic Project has been added to the London landscape – thanks in great part to the Hackney Council which has funded and promoted the projects. What lackluster space will these mighty mosaic collaborators transform next?
- The Hackney Mosaic Project website
- Tessa Hunkin website
- Excellent article on Shepherdess Walk by Lillian Sizemore here
- Loving local perspective by The Gentle Author on Spitalfieldslife.com
- British Association for Modern Mosaic
- Shepherdess Walk Shepherdess Walk, London N1 7JN (Northeast Corner)
- Hoxton Varieties – Sainsbury’s Local Store, 245 Old Street EC1V 9EY (Corner of Pitfield St)
- Hackney Downs Park
“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
We were honored when the editors of Andamento, the journal of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM), asked us to write a comprehensive article covering the magnificent achievement of Isidora Paz Lopez and her team in creating the mosaic murals of Puente Alto, Chile. With over 30 photographs, the article covers the history, inspiration and methodology of the project as well as the impact the mosaics have had on the citizens of this suburb of Santiago. It is free for you to read right here.
You can read the article by clicking on the link above, but we strongly urge you to purchase a copy of the publication to see all of the Puente Alto illustrations and to get all of the great content the publication has to offer mosaic lovers. Additional articles include:
Dissolving Into Light: The Creative Journey of Elaine M. Goodwin – Elaine M. Goodwin talking to Ilona Jesnick about how the internationally recognized artist was inspired by working with Nek Chand and transformed by an experience in the Basilica of San Vitale. Illuminating.
Tygers Burning Bright – Gregory Edwards looks in depth at two mosaic cycles in London devoted to the work of the writer William Blake; the first a 1920s series by Boris Anrep (a personal favorite) and the second an undertaking of the artists and volunteers of the splendid Southbank Mosaics. Really great reading.
Hodie Mecum Eris In Paradiso – Victorian Arts and Crafts historian Neil Moat has made a marvelous discovery; the origins of the decorative motifs later to be associated with Continental Art Nouveau in the mosaics by Messrs. Rust & Co’s mosaics at St. George’s Church. Fascinating history and beautiful photos.
This issue of Andamento is truly wonderful. Now, go buy one!
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.