The Timeless Craft of Mosaic Art : A Contemporary Take by 5 Mosaic Artists
Step into the world of Mosaic Art – a timeless craft dating back at least 4,000 years that has been captivating audiences for centuries. From ancient Mesopotamia to the modern-day, mosaic art has stood the test of time and continues to inspire contemporary artists around the world.
Mosaic Art is a form of art that involves arranging fragments of colorful tiles or glass into intricate patterns, pictures, and decorative motifs. The pieces are held together with grout or adhesive, creating a unique texture and a mesmerizing visual effect. Artists use a variety of materials to create their masterpieces, including glass, ceramic tiles, and stones.
But this ancient art form is not stuck in the past. In fact, many contemporary artists are reimagining mosaic art and pushing the boundaries of their chosen materials. From putting a modern spin on the styles of the past to creating their own medium by combining sculpture, installation, and even digital art, these artists are breathing new life into mosaic art.
In this week’s of ‘Women in Arts’, we will be exploring the innovative works of five female mosaic artists who are redefining the world of mosaic. Prepare to be amazed by their stunning creations and inspired by their passion for this timeless craft.
1. Gila Rayberg
Gila Rayberg arrived at the visual arts after a successful freelance musician and educator career.
After earning her master’s degree in music from Arizona State University in 1989, Gila moved to San Francisco and quickly became involved with a community of improvisational musicians, composers and artists. Her love of travel led to a life of performing and teaching instrumental music at a newly established University in Borneo, East Malaysia. From there, she travelled extensively throughout South East Asia, collecting art, textiles, and musical instruments, representative of local cultures. With each excursion, Gila became increasingly fascinated by indigenous art.
On returning to the United States, Gila landed in New Orleans, spending her first year practising jazz standards on the street for tips. She then joined the horn section of Deacon John & the Ivories, which kept her gigging steadily until Hurricane Katrina changed everything in 2005. At that point, while evacuating, Gila focused on creating mosaics full-time.
Soon after switching to visual arts, Gila became active with an international online group, “Julia Kay’s Portrait Party.” The series this group inspired has now grown to 69 mosaics, and hundreds of works on paper.
In the summer of 2018, Gila was one of nine artists from seven countries invited to the third Contemporary Mosaic Art Symposium in Sardinia, Italy, to create a substantial work in a renovated 15th-century convent & planned site of a Museum of Contemporary Mosaic Art.
Gila embraced the isolation of Covid as an opportunity to spend quality time in her studio, having plenty of time to experiment with new ideas and techniques.
Gila travels extensively around the US & internationally, giving workshops. She has received numerous awards for her unique portraits and has been widely published. Additionally, she is highly honoured to be the US representative, of 13 invited artists, to participate in the first International Mosaic Symposium in Patagonia held in Trevelin, Argentina November 2022.
2. Gözde Tolan
Tolan grew up in Istanbul and completed her master’s degree in Industrial Psychology. She started creating mosaics as a hobby in 2012 during her successful career, which later became a passion. Over the years, she attended various pieces of training in this field and experimented with different techniques. In 2015, Tolan furthered her mosaic education at the Mosaic Art School in Ravenna, Italy, one of the most prestigious schools in the field. Like other arts, she realized that mosaic art also has a positive effect on our minds and provided a significant benefit, so she decided to dedicate herself entirely to production and opened her own workshop in 2016.
For Tolan, “The production process is a unique journey which I can experience every season and each stage contains different flavours.” Since 2020, she has been creating works called “mixed mosaics”, mainly with different art forms or materials inspired by mosaic art. In other words, she produces works evaluated as “mixed techniques” inspired by mosaic art.
I also consider it essential for the creation process to give a comfortable and natural feeling during the combination of different materials and techniques.
Tolan has exhibited her work at “Beginning”, Bursa, 2023, “Miami Art Fair”, USA, 2021, and “Myndos 2” Match Art Gallery”, Bodrum, 2021, to name a few.
3. Simona Proto
Simona Proto was born in Naples, a city rich in history, art and culture. Always passionate about art in all its facets, she graduated from classical high school, which laid the foundations of her curiosity towards mythology, history, literature and ancient art. Thus, she continued her training by enrolling in the degree course in Archaeology and History of the Arts at the Federico II University in Naples, where she graduated with honors in 2007. At the end of this course, however, she felt that her theoretical training was missing something: she wanted to enter into the substance, to understand deeply how the works she admired were made and their deep structure. For this reason, she decided to continue her studies by enrolling in the degree course in Diagnostics and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, graduating with honors in 2009.
During those years of study, she was able to “get her hands” physically on ancient works, removing encrustations left by time, containing damages made by previous interventions, mixing natural adhesives, filling her eyes with the varied color of pigments, seeing the flourishing of the original beauty of forgotten objects. Among the different experiences gained in those years, one of them really changed her life: the restoration intervention on a mosaic floor in the Archaeological Area of Pompeii. She was completely enchanted to think that, behind all this, there had been the skillful hand of a craftsman who had decided how precisely to cut that stone, to create a certain shape, that had chosen wisely the different types of marble to create shades. So she began to study the mosaic technique, first as a self-taught, and then attending the Venetian workshops, feeling an incredible emotion in finding that the mosaic instruments have never changed: everything is still realized today with a simple hammer, at most with knippers, and with the ability, matured over time, to “measure” with the eyes the size and shape of the small pieces that you want to make, before giving the shot that will break the material irremediably.
In Venice she got to know the Italian smalti, an incredible material, capable of giving life to works that change completely according to how the light is reflected on the tiles. Since then, she has started her artistic journey, recognizing in the mosaic a powerful tool of investigation of colors and shapes of reality. Thinking about it, looking back, it seems that nothing happens by chance: the mosaic is in a sense very similar to the work that is carried out in the pictorial integrations during the restoration.
Seeing any of her works, there will never be a tile next to the other of the same color, as well as easily you will find unexpected tones, especially in the flesh tones, which are for her a continuous challenge. During these years, her works have been highly appreciated by the community of international mosaic artists for their realism and the personal use of colors. Recently she has worked in the religious mosaic decoration field, as the work of about 30 square meters,conceived, designed and built for the Sanctuary of San Gerardo Majella of Caposele. Via (https://artelaguna.world/artist/proto-simona/)
Read more about the artist on her Instagram.
4. Julie Mazzoni
Mosaic artist Julie Mazzoni has a Bachelor of Architecture from Kansas State University and has always enjoyed artwork. Julie created children’s murals for six years before moving to watercolors and acrylics. In 2009, Julie discovered the joy of mosaic art and completed her first piece.
For me, the tactile pleasure of working with the materials is in competition with the visual delight of the eye candy aspect of the tessarae. Similarly, each piece competes against the entire mosaic. I must carefully consider the design elements of each piece’s placement, shape, color, and texture and of the whole composition. The juxtaposition keeps pulling at me until I find a satisfactory balance. Each piece laid offers a whole host of parallel ideas for future projects.
Working on mosaics wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.
Julie feels, “Mosaic is a clear reflection of life.” Made of many components, there are infinite possibilities. The struggle is to decide which materials and compositions merit the time needed to create. Once the goal has been determined, then it is a joy to labour towards that end. And when one mosaic is completed, the process starts anew. Working on mosaics wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.
5. Gill Aitken
Gill is a mosaic artist & painter based in Lancaster, UK. She creates fine art mosaics, mosaics for homes and gardens and public art mosaics.
My interest in mosaics was awakened by a love of colour. But I am also captivated by the meditative process of cutting and laying the tiles – I can become fairly obsessive about it! I would love to see a revival of the ancient art of mosaics – it’s the perfect adornment for our urban environment, bringing colour and cheer to all the grey around us. My mosaic work is contemporary in style and I use a wide range of materials (but I’m particularly fond of incorporating up-cycled china – it’s such an exciting medium!). I like recycling materials in general – for example, my mosaic work ‘Lino Tree’ was made from the discarded remains of industry: I found the lino poking up through the ground of a former tip.
Mosaic Art, a timeless art form, not only brings joy to the artists but also to the audience who interpret it. These artists have done some marvellous work. You can read more about them by following the link to their profiles. You can read our last week’s article and explore the works of other women artists on our website in the ‘articles and interview‘ section. https://artstoheartsproject.com/category-articles-and-interviews/