Being connected to the world around us, to the people and places that we love, is an innate yearning toward which we continually strive. A relatively recent resurgence in the ancient art of mosaic has provided an inimitable way to connect while reflecting each artist’s individuality. No other form of art affords the opportunity to join disparate pieces of every imaginable kind, resulting in the breathtaking unity in art that mosaic provides.
Mosaic is the art of the hip and cool crowd and of the geriatric set as well. Children can make it, as can adults that are unable to draw the simplest stick figure. It is the art of the wealthy and of the disenfranchised. Master artists spend months and years at a time applying one piece after another to create their mosaics. School youth in Haiti have picked up the wind-ravaged remains of the hurricanes that swept through their islands, and have poured their souls into instilling newfound hope reflected in the happy mosaics that have sprung up everywhere.
Using simple materials or complex, mosaics can help you articulate a closeness to your own world unlike any other medium. As you trace your story, your thoughts or your emotions, mosaics can preserve memories or document hopes for the future. Make them colorful or tone them down. Give them texture or make them smooth. It only takes about an hour to learn how to make them. What happens after that is completely up to the artist.
Renegade artist, Isaiah Zagar, plasters the sides of entire skyscrapers in Philadelphia with broken tile and shiny mirrors, transforming blighted buildings into gigantic sculptures. Internationally known mosaic artist, Stacy Alexander, uses found objects that would ordinarily be destined for landfills, to create her unique mosaic designs. Children in a London primary school embed colorful tesserae into the wall surrounding the school to leave permanent self-portraits. Mothers in Ghana, Africa create mosaics from rocks to record their experiences in the bush.
We can view mosaics in relationship to those times in life when we feel most scattered. The idea of combining broken pieces to create something wonderful and new is a symbolic way of imparting personal strength and connectedness. Mosaic signifies hope for all, and a reminder that the broken pieces of our lives can be rejoined to become a whole new beginning.
More people are discovering the joys of mosaic art every day. Entire mosaic associations are forming across the globe and the trend is growing by leaps and bounds. Mosaics can be made from virtually anything, and provide a comforting, repetitive motion that results in something real, something solid that is beautiful. Mosaics can be subversive or conservative, simple or elaborate. They can be made from discarded cosmetic containers or from 14 carat gold. Mosaics defy economic barriers and a lack of skill. Anyone can make them, even those that consider themselves to be without talent. Mosaics give us the unity and connectedness we crave.