Before I Was An Artist, #10 / by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Today, there are painters, roofers, and a drywall crew working both outside and inside. Managing the various aspects of our renovation does help keep me busy, but not too busy to miss having a studio and things to make. 

So, I'll busy myself by going back in time to the year 2007 or so in my mosaic career. Having returned from a very rewarding Orsoni master class experience the previous year, I decided to take the step from hobby to art, and I started making art. Intrigued and inspired by Maestro Orsoni's directive to Think Mosaic, which I talked about in this post, I started down a path—although not fully conscious of it at the time—to explore what I have come to think of as work that is essentially mosaic.

Etude, detail (2007) My first attempt to Think Mosaic!

What do I mean by essentially mosaic?  Well, there are three happenings that helped form my idea of work that is essentially mosaic:

1. The first of the three happenings was when Maestro Orsoni said Think Mosaic, and expounded on what was not mosaic (again, refer to this post).

L'entrata, detail

2. The next happening was in 2008 at the SAMA conference in Miami, I believe, and I met Ilana Shafir and her daughter, Leah Zahavi.

I was sitting with a few other mosaic artists in the hotel restaurant when Ilana Shafir and Leah came in and sat down at the table next to us. Maestra Shafir saw that I had a small portfolio of my work with me and she asked to see it. I quite nervously handed it to her. When she saw a photo of L'entrata (left), she said something like If you want to do this kind of thing, you should just paint it! Then, as she viewed a couple of other small, abstract attempts, she said This is honest work. 

3. Finally, I read something Gary Drostle had written about a mosaic in a Mosaic Art Now magazine. I think that it was a juror's choice kind of thing and he was explaining why he chose the particular work. He said something to the effect that it was an excellent example of a work that was essentially mosaic—a work that would not have been as successful in any other medium. 

As a bit of a disclaimer, I'm not heavily invested in the term essentially mosaic or the characterizing adjective of essential. I've only seen it mentioned by Gary Drostle, which either points to my lack of exposure or to a lack of the term's use. As another bit of disclaimer, when I talk about work that is essentially mosaic, I am not referring to a quality characterization, but primarily a type. Work that is essentially mosaic is not necessarily better or more valid that any other kind of mosaic. This is my view.

I'll end this post at this point and let you ponder the idea of essential mosaic, as I have come to understand it based on my recollection of the comments of Orsoni, Shafir, and Drostle.