July 29, 2010

Distressed Mosaics

Fuel and Fodder: Using Grief and Anger to Put Passion into Art
The mosaic work above and the detail to the right was created out of necessity as a cathartic tool for releasing excessive grief and anger. The title of the work, "Three Intruding Fanatics: One Throwing a Rock," aptly reflects both personal and, hopefully, universal fears. The piece was recently a part of the faculty exhibition at McDaniel College held in conjunction with the Common Ground on the Hill Summer Arts and Music program. Before that it was part of the group exhibition, "Locations/Dislocations: Abandoned Houses and Unsheltered Souls."
Like most of my mosaic art, this work grew slowly, piece by piece and was built as a bas relief sculpture working from the bottom up. I started with the central figure - a man with hands over his ears to shut out excess noise. The doorway to his right was made from a rusted break pad and bears two small tiles which read, in Chinese seal script "Without a Home" and "With a Home." The mosaic started out as a message about circumstances beyond one’s control and the theme of Homes and Homelessness that I was working on for the first exhibition. But midway through making this piece, I lost a loved one who had been a large part of my life for the past thirty years and another family member became seriously ill. Although there is never a particularly good time for these things, at that time I was also dealing with some rather aggressively vocal people with dogmatic religious views. Not wanting to deal with them directly any longer for fear of saying something that I could never take back, I put the raw feelings about three of them into this mosaic in the form of the three "intruders." Interestingly, for viewers of this piece the three fanatics came to take on the more universal three great religious teachings, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and the grief associated with fanatical manifestations of these.
Ironically, after finishing this piece, I found that my anger significantly dissipated and even started myself laughing at the central figure throwing a rock three times her size.
Perhaps strong emotion is in fact good fuel for creativity. At that time two months ago, my poetry strengthened as well - so much so that I was able to finish a chapbook. And all this was accomplished without severed relationships, broken ties, or bad memories. Indeed, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of art sometimes is to maintain humanity within conflict and adversity.

1 comment:

Mosaic Geek said...

Thanks for your explanation of the elements in this piece - it's fascinating! I also agree with your thoughts on emotion fueling art, and art as a healthy catharsis. Well stated! Thanks for this post.