Thursday, May 31, 2012

Approaching the finish line!

I don't know how many of my fellow SAMA members are following this, but I've been feeling as if I am leading a mosaic marathon, except that it is a month long and the people working on it are not SAMA members.  Most have never done mosaic before and are not familiar with terms like "andamento."

But, they are dedicated and enthusiastic, and they have stuck with the project all the way to the end - and we are almost there!

Last week, I felt very frustrated.  I mentioned it in a post on facebook, and was surprised how many people were incensed to learn that damage had been done to the work.  The information went a little bit viral, and I was concerned that I had inadvertently created more controversy.  But, I realize now that the result was very positive.  More people came by during this past week just to say thank you, and to express their commitment to protecting the mosaic.  One friend brought a bag of snacks last weekend, and I'm convinced that my volunteers would have run out of steam without that extra boost.  They all stayed until 6:30pm both Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
It was a party!
Best of all, no one has removed our plastic coverings at night and there has been no tampering at all.  In less than a week, we have nearly finished adhering mosaic on the biggest and last part of the project.

There is nothing particularly innovative or fantastic about this mosaic, as mosaic goes.  It is a simple design: cartoon-like fish and completely random opus-palladianum mishmash background.  It is an onslaught of color and texture, interspersed with found objects and little surprises.  But, it has been the most meaningful project I've ever done.  I had no idea, starting out, how important this would be to the community.  First, I was very moved by the reactions of people at the fish-making event when they learned that they were invited to contribute to something that would become a permanent fixture in the City.  It was surprisingly emotional.

Never before have I allowed anyone else to work on a paid commission with me.  The first day that two volunteers showed up to help, I was scheduled for a photo shoot for a local magazine.  I had to hurry and mix thinset and give basic instructions.  I left Lisandro in charge of supervising and took off with the photographer.  Driving away felt so strange!

Slowly, more people were showing up, and anyone passing by could join us to put on one piece, or work for half the day, as they chose.  There has been so much surprise and delight in this mosaic.

One of the most dedicated volunteers is recovering from very tragic losses in his life.  He is struggling to find work as a graphic designer, but is living on the edge of homelessness.  He says working on this mosaic calms his mind, and he is often waiting in the morning when I arrive.  He mixed some of his girlfriend's ashes into the thinset one day to commemorate her in a permanent way.

Over the next few days, we'll be finishing up the background on the last pillar, and I'll do the last of the grouting.  It will be a huge relief to get back to my studio and garden, but I will also miss working with my lovely volunteers, plus all of the colorful characters who keep me company while I work.

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