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Mosaic

Virginia Rose Torrence

Rose ceramicsVirginia Rose Torrence’s mosaics are constructed entirely from found objects, principally the content of several bins of hoarded ceramic shards saved over the course of three decades by an adjunct ceramics professor at Marygrove College, where Crissman just finished his term as a professor (due to the closure of the undergraduate program).

“I’ve been working there all summer,” said Torrence, “because it’s a really beautiful space and because the whole upstairs was abandoned, and we got to do whatever we wanted. I was on a walk and I all of a sudden just realized that that was amazing free material.” The resulting body of work playfully reframes elements of classic portraiture and Dutch still life painting, drawing together figurative and abstract compositions that level the hierarchy between fine art and literal trash, including fruit rinds and bottle shards found on the her weekly walks at the nearby Belle Isle Park.

“I’m encapsulating all those materials under one skin of plastic — and that’s a really satisfying action, to stop the decay of something, and try to unify them and bring them all into the same space,” said Torrence. The image of a once-living fruit incorporated into a tile mosaic is jarring and, just as the symbology of Dutch still life presented notions of desire and memento mori, these ceramics subtly struggle with the ultimate futility of art to stop time, try as it might.


The Next Big Art Movement - Mosaics and the Artists Breaking the Mold

By George Tibbett, curator

Perhaps even more exciting than the opening of the anxiously anticipated extension of the Q subway line along 2nd Avenue in Manhattan was the mosaic art in each new station. Many NYC subway stations have some mosaics but these new stations bring it to a new artistic level with artwork by Sarah Sze, Chuck Close and Vik Muniz all translated into large mosaics.

So will this push the art of mosaics into greater acceptance in the established art world?  Mosaics as with ceramics, has long been relegated to crafts rather than fine art. But this may be changing. Established ceramicists, such as Betty Woodman, have had solo shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Emerging ceramicists like Lulu Yee have been the toast of Bushwick Open Studios. So as go ceramics, so go mosaics?

Mosaics should mean more than just a jigsaw puzzle of pieces that form an image. Great mosaic art should expand the range of the medium. Here is a list of the top five ground-breaking mosaic artists working today:

Jorge camposJorge Campos aka Pixel

Pixel, is a Santiago street artist whose mosaic work pixelates cultural heroes such as Nicanor Parra, artists such as Van Gogh, and iconic artwork like from Roy Lichtenstein. Pixel brings his mosaics to the streets where his work blends with other forms of street art for people to enjoy on the streets of Santiago. According to MosaicArtNow, Pixel explains the relationship of his art with the public. He says, “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!”

 

Sonia kingSonia King

Using a range of different materials, King’s mosaics are complex compilations that, as her website states, stimulate the imagination. Some of her work is described as coded messages. She asserts, “These mosaics explore the dynamic tension created when familiar organic shapes can be seen as both macro and micro visions of our landscape. Shapes that are simultaneously at rest and moving, pulling the tesserae together into a complex composition while exploring the interaction of each element and the mystery of the spaces between.”

 

IMG_9330-croppedCharlene Weisler

Weisler describes herself as an urban artist with an interest in decaying and discarded objects. First starting in photography, Weisler was captivated by decaying, peeling and eroding street art. From there, she gravitated to collecting and assembling discarded and broken objects to not only capture their inherent beauty and mystery but also to create new mosaic images. She explains, “My mosaics are often unplanned and are created organically as the pieces come together to tell their story. A broken mug, a piece of shattered plate or a discarded misshapen object are all important elements in my work.”

 

 

 

 

 

Isiaih zagarIsaiah Zagar

Isaiah Zagar might be best known for one of his greatest achievements – The Magic Garden in Philadelphia, which is essentially a full house and side yard of compiled mosaic art.  As described by Lonely Planet, “Think of all the things you have thrown away this week – an old shoe, a broken mirror, a loose button, an empty bottle of wine. Then picture all of it broken apart, artfully cobbled together with quirky objects like antique tiles and hand-carved Mexican dolls, and applied to a wall with cement, clay, paint and glue to form a gloriously colorful mural. This is the work of septuagenarian Philadelphia-born Isaiah Zagar: mosaic artist, world traveler, visionary, dumpster diver.”

 

Domingo zapataDomingo Zapata

Better known as a painter, Zapata had a chance encounter when he walked into Koko Mosaico in Ravenna, Italy.  It was there that he saw the potential of mosaics to translate his paintings into formative artwork. “With these pieces, I wanted to create great contrast and pay tribute to the history of art.  I find taking a painting done in graffiti and recreating it using these ancient techniques helps me to understand the contemporary moment. These works represent to me where we have been and where we are going – they derive their strength from this duality,” he states on MosaicArtNow.


Michael Mapes

Michael MapesWhether one categorizes Michael Mapes as a mosaic artist, assemblage artist or reconstructionist, what remains when viewing his work is his sense of artistic destiny created from smalll shards, detritis, bit of photographs and other assorted found items.

His latest series of work is inspired by Dutch Master portraiture. In a method consistent with earlier work, subjects are examined through a pseudo scientific method specifically working with materials and processes signifying entomological, biological and forensic science.

 

"My work suggests the meta-relationship of the subject content, which is to say, it creates a dimensional collage of a painting of a person. In doing so, I consider ways in which to reconstruct the original subject to suggest new meanings. Along with thousands of dissected photos of the original painting, I add a mix of other contrived materials ranging from hair samples to recent photos to costume jewelry. The finished “collections” become dimensional collages within the realm of contemporary portraiture of 17th century subjects."

The result is grand art based on microscopic elements.


Stephanie Hirsch

Stephanie HirschThrough her use of beads, sequins and embroidery, Stephanie Hirsch's canvases are literally 'illuminated' with phrases of enlightenment and hope. Continuing her personal investigations into individual development through text, Hirsch ups the ante by removing the "easy access" of familiar graphic elements inspired by iconic punk-rock album covers and adding a recognizable figurative element. The use of the figurative element humanizes her compositions and is based upon self-portraits driven by her fascination on the whole social media "selfie" craze.  Wanting to delve deeper into how "selfies" create an image of how we want to be portrayed in the world rather than who we actually are, she shot her "selfies" while saying and feeling the emotional content in the compositions.  Hirsch states, "I was also inspired by Cindy Sherman's work titled 'Aging Socialite.' Sherman perfectly executed the daunting look in the eyes that spoke of insecurity and fear of a life no longer lived.  My fear of just existing while living promoted my 'selfie' study as well.  I am also profoundly influenced by Barbara Kruger whose text based work questions autonomy and desire, which I yearn and struggle for within myself."

 

The journey of how Hirsch struggles with her external and internal self creates a unique entry point for the artwork.  The viewer can identify and reflect upon their own personal experiences by simply reading the words and connecting with the visage.  This simple, yet profound shift creates the intimate and introspective underpinning to the work allowing the viewer to oscillate between the beauty of the materials and the message implied. Using insights like "I'd Rather Die on My Feet than Live on My Knees," "I Was Not Built to Break," "We All Find Our Way," and "It's Never Too Late," Hirsch weaves a story of overcoming one's personal adversity and building an inner spirituality that hopefully filters out into the world.

 

Stephanie Hirsch has shown in exhibitions in New York, the Hamptons, Miami and San Francisco. She was a featured artist in Miami Design District's Art Walk (2012) and showcased in the Mercedes Benz VIP lounge at Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week (2012).  Hirsch was among 30 artists commissioned to create a unique commemorative crown for display in Harrods (London) in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (2012). Hirsch is the founder of Inca resort wear and author of "Mother Nurture," published by William Morrow (2008).  She lives and works in New York City.

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

Thomas Lanigan-SchmidtA pop-cultural connoisseur with a magpie’s eye for what shimmers and shines, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt has been using plastic wrap, reflective foil, colored beads, pipe cleaners, glitter, staples and photographs for more than 40 years to create shrines to saints, sacred and secular, emblematic of queer identity. He includes himself among the elect in an early collage titled “Twinky as a Prima Ballerina (Self-Portrait),” completed in 1969, the year of the Stonewall Rebellion, in which he participated.

Lanigan-Schmidt began by exhibiting his art in his own apartment; an early major exhibit in 1969 was titled The Sacristy of the Hamptons. Another home exhibit was titled The Summer Palace of Czarina Tatlina.  In these early home exhibits, and also in at least one later recreation of an early exhibit, he guided visitors through the exhibit in drag in character as art collector Ethel Dull.

While Lanigan Schmidt's art is not widely known, he has received critical acclaim.

Reasons for Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt's art not reaching a wider audience totally elude me. This is major, major work, reflecting and augmenting today's dialogue in a unique and commanding voice. Many artists, including a generation of Lanigan-Schmidt's students, have been repeatedly amazed, inspired and guided by its panache, rapier-sharp wit, subversiveness and opulent beauty.

—Robert Kushner, Art in America

 

 


El Anatsui

IMG_0287 IMG_0287There is something wonderful, mystical and very satisfying about the sculputral work of El Anatsui who uses found objects and throwaway trash to construct is ever flowing and changing sculptures.

El Anatsui was born in Anyanko, Ghana in 1944. Many of Anatsui’s sculptures are mutable in form, conceived to be so free and flexible that they can be shaped in any way and altered in appearance for each installation. Working with wood, clay, metal, and—most recently—the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art. The colorful and densely patterned fields of the works assembled from discarded liquor-bottle caps also trace a broader story of colonial and postcolonial economic and cultural exchange in Africa, told in the history of cast-off materials. The sculptures in wood and ceramics introduce ideas about the function of objects (their destruction, transformation, and regeneration) in everyday life, and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols.

El Anatsui received a BA from the College of Art, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (1969) and since 1975 has taught at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His works are in the public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Indianapolis Museum of Art; British Museum, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among many others. Major exhibitions of his work have appeared at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown (2011); Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2010); National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka (2010); Rice University Art Gallery, Houston (2010); Venice Biennale (2007); and the Biennale of African Art, Senegal (2006). El Anatsui lives and works in Nsukka, Nigeria.


Jan Huling

Jan huling Jan Huling is an artist who uses fantastic bead work in her art.

She says - In a recent review, the New York Times dubbed my work “oddball assemblages,” and aptly so. Have fun and make beautiful art by gluing seed beads, ball chain and other stuff to boxes or any other solid object that tickles your fancy! Clean out your junk drawer before you come and bring all of those buttons that were just too pretty to pitch, souvenir pins that no one wears but bring back such nice memories, lira you forgot to forgot to spend in Italy - anything that you might want to glue down and decorate. Take a look at my web site (www.janhuling.com) to get an idea of what it is that I do and then join me for five days of laughs and glue. Oh, and don't forget your reading glasses!

Jan Schwab Huling was born in Chicago and raised in St. Louis. After attending the Kansas City Art Institute she started her career in greeting card design. She has since made her way working in New York City as a product designer, children’s book author and beadist. The spectrum of Jan’s beadwork is diverse, from her first beaded kazoo to whole table tops. She is liable to bead just about anything that stands still. Sorry Mr. Van der Rohe, less is not more when we are talking about the scintillating qualities of beadwork. Not a nudist nor a Buddhist, Jan is a BEADIST practicing a labor of love within her home studio in Hoboken, NJ.

Feel inspired? Try it yourself and possibly find your muse in The Art of Bead Embroidery: Techniques, Designs & Inspirations


Tom Bevan

Tom bevans Tom Bevan is an assemblage mosaic artist who works out of Brooklyn in New York City. His sculptures and household objects remind me of the work of the 20th Century collagist Kurt Schwitters who used found objects to create his art. Bevan uses pieces of broken crockery, small objects and tiles and embeds them in plaster. For many years he worked out of the Crane Artist Studios which was part of 5 Pointz in Long Island City, Queens, New York.

Bevan is a Belfast native who has been the recipient of many foundation grants and several prestigious residencies. Bevan travels overseas to exhibitions where his work is showing. “I’m trying to connect more with Ireland,” he said. “I’m better known there because of the work I do about the Troubles.”

Bevan, who does assemblage sculptures from found materials, spends periods living and working in a rented house in Glencar, County Down in Ireland, that has no indoor running water or electricity. He first came to New York as a resident in the P.S. 1 International Studio Program.