February 3, 2013

Mosaic Work

The Sacrifice of Gaza, 2010, hand cut glass, paper pulp, wood, 20"x10"x26"

I had started this piece in Taos, and when I started working on it again in Portland it was just an unfinished paper pulp deer. Previously I'd place different objects on its back, then I'd change my mind and saw them off again. It reminds me of how in flux I was at the time with my work, how dissatisfied I was and how much I would work to try to make it right, including making big structural changes.

By the time I began creating it as a mosaic piece, I had learned a lot of the technique through trial, error, and finally a class that I took at PNCA (and where I made Glass Giraffe). I found a separate space from my apartment that I rented temporarily and worked on it diligently for six months. It was incredibly precise and focused work, hand cutting small tiles to specific angles and placing Tham very close together, but I had a natural feel for it and the process was familiar and enjoyable to me.
I started working on it in 2008 and I planned to just make a straightforward mosaic piece. I was well into the design when Israel began operation 'Cast Lead', its three-week bombing campaign of Gaza. I had gradually been learning about Israel's settler colonial project outside of the mainstream media's propaganda, and Palestine had captured my imagination and my heart. I decided to make the piece about Gaza in reaction to the bombardment and ongoing siege. It was easy in terms of the image itself: the deer as a sacrificial creature and the common geometric design that I'd begun is found in Islamic art. Ancient and stunning mosaics have a large presence in Palestine and Gaza as well. I added the Arabic word for Gaza on the deer's head and a rocket image on its back. 

In 2008 the US gave Israel 8.5 million in tax dollars a day. Now it's closer to 11 million. As Israel, directly supported by US tax dollars, continues its illegal and inhuman siege, including bombardments, of Gaza, The Sacrifice of Gaza remains even more relevant today.

The Sacrifice of Gaza, detail

Glass Giraffe
hand cut fused glass, cast glass, paper pulp
18" x 3" x 11"

I made Glass Giraffe in a class that I took at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) in 2008 when I lived in Portland. I wanted to learn some techniques for making glass tile mosaics and the class also covered intro to kiln glass and casting. I made the paper pulp body, then applied and grouted the fused glass tiles that I made using a kiln. The head and legs are cast glass, which is a very challenging process because it involves precise calculations and it was ambitious for my first time trying it even though I didn't know it before I started! 

This piece fits in very well with the themes of this show - giraffes are endangered species, and I like the material and title, 'glass' that adds to the idea of fragility. It's also a transition piece that was the result of searching for new ways to work and materials to work with. I remember that making it was a joy, and that I was very motivated and inspired.

paper pulp, hand-cut glass, wood
13" x 3" x 2"

paper pulp, hand cut glass
8" x 4" x 13"

paper pulp, hand cut glass, wood
17" x 6" x 4"