In this, our third year of offering beginner and advanced workshops, we are really starting to take off! Because we bring the most popular teachers to Cape Cod every summer, the mosaic world is noticing. Students are signing up at a record pace. As a matter of fact, one of our teachers, Yulia Hanansen has a full workshop with a waiting list developing already - and it's only March!
Sonia King and Lynne Chinn are always pleased to come back to the Cape and so are their students. Many have signed up already, but there are still a few slots available. We are very excited and pleased to see that Laurie Mika and Susan Wechsler have such a big following. Their enrollments are very high, too.
The message in all if this is to act now and sign up today. If you snooze, you loose as they say. :) And we want everyone to be a winner !
We are so excited to share our list of teachers who have signed on to teach this year. It will be great to see old friends Sonia King, Lynne Chinn and Yulia Hanansen, who have taught here in the past. New teachers this year are Susan Weschler and Laurie Mika. If you know their work, I'm sure you are anxious to meet them, too.
The workshops will be held this summer in the month of July. Cape Cod is the place to be in July. Drive down the highway and you'll see the SUV's are packed to the roof with beach toys and coolers heading to the summer cottage. The sandy beaches are chock full with blankets and umbrellas as the kids play in our warm salty water. In the evenings, couples walk arm in arm walking along Main Street, peeking into the many shops and deciding which of the dozen or so trendy restaurants to explore.
What a great time for you to plan your summer vacation. And how could it get any better to take a mosaic workshop and then spend a few days seeing the sites?
Be sure to look in your email box in January for all the details of the workshops including class descriptions and prices. And sign up early, because these workshops always sell out fast!
A wonderful time was had by all of the 15 participants of Yulia Hanansen's workshop this week. Her mosaic students, some of whom had little or no experiance, accomplished some magnificent mosaics under her tutelage. Yulia taught her signature method of nipping class and setting it so that the tesserea would flow perfectly. The lovely colors of the glass allowed the students to graduate tones of shading as each flower developed on the substrate. The results were that each student felt they had accomplished a beautiful mosaic flower. In the end, Yulia promised to return to teach a landscape workshop next summer to the delight of her students.
To see more photos visit the "Photo Gallery" page.
I am honored to have Cape Cod Magazine write a feature article in the "Artist Spotlight" section this month
All the Little Pieces
Mosaic artist Jim Bowen’s skills for creating works of this ancient art require an understanding of how each part makes the universe whole.
Jim Bowen introduced an interesting art analogy to local elementary school students , with whom he is constructing a large mosaic tree that will be presented to the principal, an art teacher himself, as a retirement present. Each student will fashion a leaf for the tree and embellish it with some sort of personal token.
He first asked the students not if they knew what a mosaic was, but what the word community meant to them. Tiny hands darted up. Their answers were what you might expect from first graders—slightly correct in concept, but humorously misconstrued. “A community is made up of all different people,” he explained. “Each are of different colors, shapes, and sizes, and each have different stories and backgrounds. When all of the individuals come together as a whole to share their differences, a community is formed. It’s the same with mosaics.”
Even after fourteen years of practicing this 3,000-year-old art, (the first mosaics were said to be in the form of bullet-shaped clay attached to the columns of a building in ancient Iran), Bowen’s career as a mosaic artist and teacher is just at its beginning.
“I’ve done painting, print-making, pencil, oil and even some pottery, but I have never felt like I found the right medium for me,” says Bowen. After one day in the late nineties, when he started piecing together bits of china onto furniture (a new artistic fad at the time, one that his wife saw at a local workshop), making mosaics became his newfound joy.
“I liked the messiness of it. Here you are, breaking up china and making something beautiful again,” he says. “It’s like a broken person who becomes healed.”
In Haiti, it healed an entire community. After the devastating earthquake in 2010, fellow mosaic artist Laurel True from New Orleans went down to help raise spirits through artwork. Gathering up locals, many who had lost family members and every possession ever owned, True helped the people make beautiful mosaic leaves out of broken household remains like dishes, glassware, and mirrors. Bowen, inspired by her efforts, is planning a trip to Malawi in Africa in the next year or two to lead a mosaic mural project at a school that is being built by a Massachusetts couple.
After taking his first mosaic class at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill in 1998, Bowen discovered a natural teaching ability that he never knew he had. He went on to teach a class of his own at Castle Hill, then to students at Cape Cod Community College, where he began the mosaic program there and has been instructing a mosaic course off and on for the last decade. Drawn to stained glass, he teaches the students to cut it, grind it, mount it, grout it, and get invested in what they’re making.
Bowen has led the creation of a half dozen large mosaic murals on-and off-Cape, such as the one seen at the newly opened Falmouth Dog Park and under a bridge along the Shining Sea Bikeway, also in Falmouth. During the weekend of the National Mosaic Exhibition at Highfield Hall last August, students helped Bowen, artist Linda Dadek, and illustrator Erica Szuplat (who designed the original image) create the mural. Depicted is the land’s strawberry fields in the background, while dogs and a boy are at play in the park. Back in 2010, the same three artists led a group of volunteers, both experienced and first-time mosaic makers, to put together the bikeway’s mural. Bowen guided the novices in their first go at a large-scale project. Cutting and placing together (one at a time) more than 20,000 tile pieces to make one show-stopping image is not easy work even for an experienced artist. Though the actual design is quite simplistic, each individual piece makes a statement and provides definition to the entirety of the work.
In Bowen’s home studio is a mosaic of Jesus Christ, his eyes of glistening brown glass which look as if they have the power to communicate. “If you can capture emotion with just one tiny piece of glass or tile, it really just fascinates people,” says Bowen, who won “best in show” at the 2009 Falmouth Guild Fall Juried Show for his mosaic of a woman in Peru on her way to the market. This one now hangs in the Artisan Salon which he co-owns with another artist (he has been cutting hair for 35 years).
Following last year’s National Mosaic Exhibition at Highfield Hall, which was co-curated by Bowen and featured workshops led by renowned mosaic artists, he and his wife began their own school called Cape Cod Mosaic Workshops at Highfield Hall, one of only three other mosaic schools in the nation (and the only one in New England). Each workshop is led by a visiting artist or resident artist including Bowen and cater to both novice and advanced students (another National Mosaic Exhibition is planned for 2013).
His two children grown, his salon still thriving, and his teaching a re-emerging trade, there couldn’t be a better time for Bowen to dig his hands into another fun educational project—a children’s book, told through mosaics. Bowen isn’t always a realist with his work; he also enjoys creating abstract mosaics, ones that come together through imagination as the artwork is being assembled. But many of his most proud works are inspired by emotion and expression and often hold deeper meaning—just like the word “community.”
Learn more about Jim Bowen and Cape Cod Mosaic Workshops atwww.capecodmosaicworkshops.com
June 10&11 was a special time at Highfield Hall as I taught a workshop entitled, "Create a Mosaic Memory Mirror".Pique Assiette translates to "broken plates" and this is the style of art that we created. Many of the students brought items that had special meaning from home such as a wedding invitation, religious cross and beach glass and sea shells which they had painstakingly collected from local shores and beyond.
We discussed all the ways to gather china and what-nots. Antigue stores, thrift shops, and ebay were some of the ideas that we shared. After completing the mirror, some had time to work on a clay pot as an extra bonus.
I was so impressed with this group of anxious ladies who dived right in without fear to their first exeriance at mosaic art. Even Barbara, a writer from Primetime Magazine who was there to report on the workshop, got her hands into it, creating a flashy white pot with an unexpected shock of bright red.
Visit the "photo gallery" to see more pictures.
I love teaching! That is all there is to it. Some artists prefer to stayed in their studios and work in solitarity. Others really enjoy the comradery of working together at an art center like the Falmouth Art Center here in Falmouth. They go out in groups on location every Monday and work on a scene. Me? My greatest joy is leading a class of eager students who haver never picked up a pair of glass cutters or mixed gooey grout in a bowl. I really enjoy telling them about the history of mosaics and how they began thousands of years ago. I honor then for taking this class and carrying on the tradition of this ancient art form because they will be able to show their work on to others as well.
When I teach, I want to get the students working as quickly as possible, so I save more lecturing for later- after all they didn't come to hear me blabber. They want to create!
In future blogs I will talk about my teaching style and share some thoughts on this subject. For now, please enjoy these photos of last weekend's workshop and more that I have placed in our "Photo Gallery"