Friday, January 22, 2010

Why blog?

I've taken part in a number of forums and discussion sites about mosaics. I've discussed and debated every aspect of the art with other mosaicists. It has certainly been highly satisfying. But these discussions spin in a circle. We preach to the choir. In my ideal scenario, this blog would indeed be read by fellow mosaicists, but also by non mosaicists. I would like it to be visited by art lovers who wish to enhance their ability to appreciate and enjoy mosaics by understanding what goes into them.

Maybe this is wishful thinking. Cyberspace is teeming with blogs on every imaginable subject and I doubt that anyone would wake up one bright morning and say "Oh, today, I really need to find out more about mosaics." A more likely scenario would be someone's chance encounter with contemporary mosaics. The occasion may be a show, a gallery, public art, a radio talk like the series launched by George Fishman (thank you George for a wonderful initiative), a TV program, a visit to an archaeological site, a fleeting image on the web, or even a panel hanging on the wall in a friend's living room. But it would start with exposure to the art. Only then is there a chance that anyone may seek more information, A web search may lead that person to a few sites and blogs and open for them the world of mosaics

In other words, neither creating mosaics nor writing about them is enough. What the mosaic community needs is more exposure. Mosaics shows are an excellent venue, and fortunately, they are more and more frequent; but they are not enough. One has to be already interested in mosaics to go to a mosaic show. In my ideal scenario, mosaics should figure in any art event, be it a show, a gallery a book, a catalog, etc. This is not to say that there is not room for mosaic shows. On the contrary, they may even be the ultimate goal. But mosaics should not be segregated, as if they did not belong in the general world of art.

Recently I reconnected with a friend from my distant past. I mentioned to him that I am about to shorten my university career to be a mosaicist. This friend is what we would call a renaissance man: highly educated, and generally interested in the arts (very proud of his daughter's art degree). His email signature includes the line homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto, which translate roughly -- my Latin is rusty-- as I am a man, nothing human is alien to me. He takes part in literary discussions groups and is currently toying with the idea of opening an art gallery. And still, when I told him that my mosaics were not necessarily intended for the kitchen or the bathroom, he snapped :What do you mean? Where else? You cannot put them on your living room wall like a painting!"

Well, I can and I do. And he can too. Anyone can.

We are up against this ingrained perception of mosaics as purely utilitarian, or, at best, merely decorative. Mosaics lends themselves to it, since they can go and last where few other art form can: outdoors in all kind of weather, in shower stalls, in swimming pools, on backsplashes... but they can also go in living rooms, in galleries, and in museums of contemporary art.

Their ubiquity and their utilitarian aspect should be an asset, not a liability.

In short, we need to better reach out to the public.

And that's where I hope this blog becomes a project of the like-minded... what can we all do to share this art form we love so much with the world? Ideas?


  1. Hello Ora
    I am not a mosaicist but I do love and collect abstract art (mostly contemporary prints). Your comments on how mosaics are perceived by the general as well as educated public caught my eye. That was also the case 30 years ago for abstract art, until the notions of texture and layering in painting became understood and accepted. It would be interesting if you were to approach mosaics from the same angle since mosaics depend very much on the materials used (i.e. another form of texture).I would also welcome a discussion on the differences you perceive in texture between mosaics and contemporary paintings.

  2. Hello, Josue
    You are so right. But do we really need to wait 30 years in this age of communication? Anyway, I am planning a series of posts comparing painting and mosaics. Among the point of comparison the issue of materials, layering, and texture will be paramount. Stay tune and I would be very interested in your comments when I publish those posts