Mosaic: A Place for Our Broken Pieces

Posted on Oct 2, 2013

P1160274 - Version 2This past weekend I took the Wheel of Creativity to the British Association of Modern Mosaic symposium at Kings College in London. One of my most gifted clients invited me to come share my work with her community. I have always felt that mosaic art is a metaphor for life, but I had no idea how deep that feeling could go.

The Truth of Consequences 

I think I was 40 years old when I began to realize that I was living the consequences of choices I made in my 20s and 30s. I went through a dark time then, knowing for the first time that I couldn’t go back and change those choices; I had to live their consequences. “Woulda/coulda/shoulda” thinking was a waste of time. When the dust of disappointment settles we are left with a new choice: “What am I going to do with this now?”

At the BAMM symposium I listened to visionary artists from Chile, South Africa, America and Great Britain speak about their creative adventures. Each, in his or her own way, spoke straight to my heart. And I made a few notes:

  • “Always respect your materials; it’s the most important thing,” said UK artist Andrew Logan. I believe your circumstances are the raw materials of your life – the individual pieces you’re given to make your life with. They all have value. Honor them. Play with them. Use them. (Check out his Cosmic Egg at the American Visionary Art Museum here.)
  • “Even if you think you’ve come to know the meaning, the meaning’s going to change on you,” advised Tulsa-based artist Sonia King. “The longer I work in mosaics, the more I realize I have no idea where I’m going.” That’s the whole point, I say. Notice her exploration of space in Coded Message.
  • “We all have a deep need to feel connection. Here we see what we have in common more than what separates us.” US artist and scholar Lillian Sizemore revealed the sacred geometry of the enormous, near-perfect LOD 2 mosaic from 3rd century CE. There is logic in the design of the universe down to the very forms of matter; it links us all and we all have a place in it. In Sizemore’s words, “It is a journey into the center, imbuing the work with spirit and meaning and revealing patterns repeated in nature. We feel it and they have a resonance for us.”

More Than you Are

They all spoke of the power of collaboration – becoming more than you are by yourself. Particularly…

  • Chilean artist Isidora Paz López spoke of the power of collaborative public art to restore self-esteem to an entire city and the individuals who live there. Her massive urban mosaic project brought 32 people together to tile 84 pillars of the metro station in Puente Alto, outside Santiago. After her talk, she told me how Puente Alto has gone from a poor and crime-ridden area to one that surrounding towns want to emulate.
  • In South Africa Liana van der Westhuizen started and manages the Spier Arts Academy, training first-time African mosaic artists to build and run their own businesses as professional mosaicists, through a three-year sponsored employment-based program. I am planning to offer a Wheel of Creativity workshop there later this year.

Whole v Sum

Image - Version 2

Mosaic Egg by Liz de Ath

Mosaic is not just an art form. And it’s not just a metaphor for life. It is a way of seeing and creating the whole of which we are all a part.

Through the lens of The Wheel of Creativity, living life creatively means taking the individual pieces of your life and making something new with them. What you do with the shards of your life – your broken places, your disappointments, your losses and lacks – determines the future of and the quality of your life.

Whether it’s an event you wish you’d bypassed or a town that’s lost faith in itself, it is (we are) all connected to the whole.

And perhaps this is why the symposium spoke to me so deeply, because each person there is using the materials they have to  change their lives, change their communities and create the future out of the broken pieces.

The broken pieces of our lives are not to be wasted. The creative journey is one we’re all on. Not only do we heal our own lives through that process, we heal our communities as well.

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