School and work have kept me pretty busy, and unfortunately, writing on my blog seems to be the first thing that falls off of my list. I apologize.
As promised in my last post, here is what I came up with for my first project for Creative Process class.
My choice for this first assignment was driven by several factors. I wanted first to use a medium with which I had no prior experience, and second to make my project one that would engage its audience in a physical manner, as well as offering visual and mental stimulation. I wanted a work that would be widely visible to a large number of students on campus, so I chose the circular fenced space at the entrance to the Pond Student Union building.
Mosaics have always fascinated me. I remember as a child poring through pictures of ancient mosaics in the pages of National Geographic magazines. I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is the capitol of the state, and went on many school field trips to the capitol building, which is filled with amazing examples of mosaics from floors to ceilings. My older sister has made a name for herself in the art world with her mosaics, which she makes from bits of broken pottery and glass washed up on the beaches of New York, Boston, Cape Cod, Ireland, and other locations. Many of her works tie the locations she gleans from into historic maps of the areas, and one of her mosaic maps of the New York waterfront is now a part of the New York City Library map collection. Another huge influence for me is the astounding works of the Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi.
The student union has been a gathering place on the ISU campus for over 50 years. In keeping with the idea of a gathering place, my project involves renovating the circular, fenced area by the main entrance to the union building. The current design is unwelcoming, with heavy, black barred railing enclosing most of the space, reminding one of a prison or cage. The regular, concentric circles in the middle of the space are static and uninteresting, and when one enters the enclosure, the natural instinct is to look for the exits and pass through the space as quickly as possible. I chose to exchange the stark, forboding black railing for inviting benches that curve along the outer edges of the circle, offering students a welcoming place to congregate outside. The circular ground area would curve upward into the benches bases, and the whole would be covered with a continuous mosaic. The backs of the benches would take the place of the iron railing, and the mosaics would spill over their backs to cover the outer wall which faces the steps as well.
The design on the lower wall facing the steps coming up to the building entrance from the direction of the Fine Arts building would be covered with an Idaho mountain scene, with blue, cloud-speckled skies above. In the sky portion of the mosaic would be the quote, “True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day that goes by.”, a reminder for us to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. The gathering theme would be continued in quotes at either of the entrances to the circle. At one entrance would be a quote by the Roman poet, Propertius, “Great is the road I climb, but the garland offered by the easier effort is not worth the gathering.”, and at the other entrance would be the quote, “Education is only the ladder to gather the fruits of the tree of knowledge, not the fruit itself.”
I also wanted to express the diversity of the students gathered on the ISU campus. Sixty-four different countries are represented within the halls of our school, so to express the global “coming together” of people from all over the world, I chose an image of the Earth for the center of the circlular space. In the field around the Earth would be hands of different sizes and colors to represent the different peoples. The top of the wall created by the backs of the benches would not be a straight level line, but would gently undulate, with a solid-colored top to border the design, and rounded tiles to shed rain and snow. The seats of the benches would be angled slightly downward toward the front, so water would not pool on the seats, and the seats themselves would be tiled in smooth, off-white tiles, with various mosaic motifs covering the backrests, similar to the benches in Park Güell in Barcelona.
Because of the huge fluctuations in temperature in the Idaho climate, and the need to be able to withstand harsh weather conditions, high-fire clay would have to be used for the tesserae of the mosaics, and a heavy duty sealant would need to cover the whole to keep moisture out of the grout, in order to avoid expansion and contraction, which would damage the work in the long run. Though I would do the actual work of laying the mosiac, with a hand-selected team of helpers, I would include the student population at large by having students make tracings of their hands for the hand tiles which would surround the Earth in the center of the design, and would have the tracings made into tiles by ceramics students.
Unlike much of the art scattered around the campus, this gathering space would be a work which invites the viewer to touch and interact with it. The mosaic design would welcome minute exploration, and offer the viewer a unique perspective by being able to sit within the work itself. It would be a space where people would want to linger, instead of one to rush through as quickly as possible.
Though this project was only imaginary, it opened my eyes to a bigger view of my art and what I could do. My jewelry making is very small in comparison to the scale of this project, and it was fun and challenging for me to step out of my tiny comfort zone of creativity, and to imagine things in a bigger scope. It is good to think outside the jewelry box now and then.
Thanks for joining me, and letting me share my creative process with you!
Until next time, best regards,