Some of my paintings were featured in the annual Creations Art Show at Our Savior’s Atonement Lutheran Church in Washington Heights. The show ran from Sept. 27th to Oct. 5th and the submitted work all related to the theme of “Mercy” in some way. The four of mine are reflections on my experience at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore and the feelings I felt when I was there.
It’s all about mosaics for me lately! I have been collecting tile all year for a mosaic project with youth in Free Arts NYC programs. The vast majority of the tile came from Our World Neighborhood Charter School next to my church, Trinity Lutheran, in Queens. Two posts ago, I mentioned using some of that tile in some of my personal pieces that were later exhibited at Materials for the Arts, also in Queens. Well, now it’s really coming back full circle! After we finished the project at Free Arts (see my previous post), Trinity took the leftover tile back so that we could implement a project with the church community!
In March, a group from Trinity traveled to Israel on a Lenten pilgrimage, and I was fortunate to be able to go with them. While we were there, we saw mosaic after mosaic!
Ancient mosaics floors…
Mosaics in churches…
Mosaics made by kids…
And a mosaic that I helped coordinate through my last job at CITYarts in NYC…
As we were brainstorming what project to do with our tiles, the church gardener mentioned it would be really neat to make benches for the garden. I definitely agreed, but said we would need a cement bench to add a mosaic to – I had no experience building forms out of cement (though it would be neat to learn!) A week or so later, Our World Neighborhood Charter School asked us if we wanted three cement benches – the school had no use for them. It’s times like these I don’t really believe in coincidence. God basically tossed what we needed in our laps, and the Trinity Mosaic Bench Project began.
I have received so much support from my church family with this project. Maritza, the woman in charge of the Sunday School, helped me brainstorm how we could connect the project to community outreach. Pastor Paul kept announcements about it in the bulletin and offered church funding for supplies. Chris, our gardener, helped me set up the space. Kelsey, my co-worker at Free Arts grouted them with me. We had 9 people come to learn how to do mosaics and they did an amazing job on the designs, especially considering they had to keep the tiles level so the benches would still be comfortable to sit on! Artists teamed up into 3 groups of 3 for each bench:
Lisa, Maritza and Hilda worked on the Trinity Bench. The symbol in the middle represents our Christian faith and the mystery of God being 3-in-1. The bridges of different colors coming from each corner represent people gathering from all walks of life.
Susan, Hawa and Kelsey worked on the Cross Bench. The cross is anchored in rock (this one is actually made of all stone tile instead of ceramic) and the large stones in each corner represent our mission to spread the message of God’s love to the four corners of the world. It’s currently being used as the altar for the outside services held each Tuesday in the summer.
Rebecca, Hinston and Margaret worked on the Unity Bench. They were inspired by our church’s nickname, “The Welcome Place” and included a Muslim crescent, Jewish star, Christian cross, and another symbol used to represent the Trinity. It goes back to our trip to Israel, our original inspiration for this project. There, the 3 monotheistic religions rarely get along. In a place as diverse as Queens, we’re proud to welcome anyone and everyone into our family and hope that the benches help show that.
After all of that work, we still have tiles left! It’s like the feeding of the 5000…we seem to have a never-ending supply that looks like more than what we started with. Between an excess of tile and the success of this project, we’ve started work on another mosaic that involves children in the congregation. More news on that later!
We at Free Arts NYC held our annual Art from the Heart student exhibit in June at the Bronx Art Museum. There were 400 youth and families in attendance! The exhibition showcased work by youth in all four of the programs. I was thrilled to be able to exhibit some of the mosaics created by Arts Mentoring Program (AMP) students – they worked together to put together a mosaic of mosiacs! We featured it as a floor installation – I love how the middle spells out “Free Arts Rocks!”
I recently finished 4 new mosaics that were accepted into a gallery called Reuse Remixed: Small Works at Materials for the Arts in Queens! Materials for the Arts is a warehouse run by NYC where non-profit organizations and schools can receive donated materials from other NYC organizations. http://www.materialsforthearts.org/smallworks/
The mosaics I created are made from recycled tile, stone and glass. Some of the tile was donated from Trinity Lutheran Church (also in Queens) and their next-door neighbor, Our World Neighborhood Charter School. Thanks to them!
The mosaics are my representations of the four elements and are each 7×7″ so they fit the “small works” requirement. At the gallery opening, I saw a teen take a picture of the “Fire” mosaic, which is quite a compliment! Another woman really liked “Water” and compared it to mosaics by Isaiah Zagar, a well-known mosaic artist in Philadelphia who I took a workshop with in 2010. The mosaics are unframed, making it easier to see the height differences in the tile/glass from the side. In fact, I think I’m most proud of the difference in height and how it creates a sensation of depth or relief. One man noticed it particularly in “Earth.” Even though no one commented on “Air” that night, I think it’s my favorite – using the iridescent glass was fun.
To check them out in person, you can visit Materials for the Arts at 33-00 Northern Blvd. 3rd Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101 between the hours of 10am-4pm Monday-Friday. The show will be up until May 9th. If you can’t visit, photos are below:
This post got delayed by the art exhibit my painting was featured in… In August, my friend Kelsey and I finished a baby quilt for Mary, our Free Arts NYC co-worker who was expecting a baby girl. Finally, on Oct. 1st she had the baby! Congratulations on your new bundle of joy, Mary – we hope you get a lot of use out the quilt.
This is the finished quilt we made (click to enlarge):
Kelsey was really the brains behind this operation – she had a great idea to make this special gift, and she has experience making quilts. I learned a lot from her!
It turns out quilting is like stained glass, which I have experience in, when it comes to cutting the pieces. It’s like mosaics in that you’re combining a lot of different pieces together but it’s less haphazard and more methodical. It was good there were two of us to double check our math!
We knew that the baby’s room was going to be designed around a tree house theme, so we went with different shades of green fabric. Then, each person on staff at Free Arts NYC decorated a quilt square – they’re all beautiful!
The Baby Beluga one was my square – I loved that book and song as a child! (And still do)
In my opinion, the hardest part of this was project was the actual “quilting” – the decorative designs that are sewn on top of the entire quilt to hold it together. Kelsey had just taught me how to sew straight lines on the sewing machine (quite the accomplishment) and then she decided to change the “foot” to do a “free-motion” design. It sounded really neat because it would basically be drawing with thread using the machine. However, it was a whole lot harder than it sounded and would have taken tons of practice. She had some very awesome, detailed ideas, but in the end, I’m glad we stuck to something simple and kept the straight lines, adding them in on diagonals. It provides a constant since all of the squares look different.
I love how Kelsey and I are both appropriately wearing green in these two pictures. Definitely not planned!
All in all, a great learning experience, and an even better gift.
One of my paintings is going to be in the Creations Art Show at Our Savior’s Atonement Lutheran Church in Washington Heights this weekend! If you’re in NYC, check out this document for a list of times the show is open to the public Sept. 27th-Oct. 6th: Creations Art Show Flyer
The theme of the exhibit is GRACE: What does it mean? Where can we experience moments of grace? What makes it so amazing? Artists were challenged to depict what grace means to them in any type of art – dance, music, theater, visual art…and then to write about the moment that inspired them.
The moment that spoke to me occurred at the appropriately named Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Baltimore, MD. The church is located in Middle East Baltimore, a neighborhood suffering from poverty, crime, injustice, racism and displacement. I witnessed the people at that church fight back against the negativity through their faith and their optimism spread throughout the community. Each person had a powerful story about trials they faced and how they overcame them thanks to God’s Great Grace.
When I was there in 2008-09, I made these sketches inspired by the congregation’s moving rendition of the song “Amazing Grace”, their namesake:
When sung by this group of strong, passionate, God-loving Christians, the song was transformed from a simple, popular hymn to one of great meaning:
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
We have already come
‘Twas grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home
We. Us. I will never forget how they changed the words to show that we were all in this together. Everyone had something they were facing, but God’s undeserved grace was going to lead us through it as a family and a community. This grace empowered them to support each other, help each other and build each other up. At that time in my life, I desperately needed their support and encouragement.
I have wanted to go back and re-create this image of a dove hovering over the skyline of Baltimore and the red brick church and this exhibit gave me a reason to open up that chapter of my life again. This is the final 12″ x 36″ painting I submitted (click to see it enlarged):
Now that I’m in NYC, I can’t help but think of that skyline as any city – not just Baltimore. I wasn’t sure if the dove was dropping the song of grace down on the world or taking it up along with the prayers and burdens of a group of people singing together in solidarity. Maybe it’s a little of both. In the end, it’s a tribute to some of the most hopeful, peaceful and grace-full people I’ve ever met.
I went to my 5 year reunion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA this weekend. It felt good to be back on campus and to see the changes that have taken place. The dining hall is the biggest change! It reminds me of a combination between a ski lodge and Hogwarts. My friends and I walked down “Academic Row” as the bells rang on the hour and saw a bunch familiar faces. It felt just like old days!
This is the ‘Berg logo I painted in the Student Council Suite back in 2008. Due to the changes in that building it’s not there anymore, so I’m adding it here. Go Mules!
I was even able to meet up with a couple of my art professors at the Center for the Arts (or, the CA) where I spent a lot of my time in the painting, printmaking, drawing and photography studios. There were some late nights spent there! The campus security officer who locked up at 1am got to know me and my friend Anneliese by name. He always let us stay as long as we needed.
There was an Alumni Art Exhibition the same weekend and Anneliese submitted one of her illustrations called “Old Friends”. She was a talented illustrator back in college and has only gotten better! Check out her work: www.anneliesejuergensen.com. I wasn’t able to submit anything this year but I’ll have to make sure I do for the next reunion.
At night, my friend Jackie and I were able to drive through Bethlehem, PA – a place known for their festivals and their “Christmas town” nickname as well as being the home of the Peeps Factory and the Banana Factory. The Banana Factory used to be a place that distributed bananas, but it was transformed into a community arts center called “Linny’s Place” only the name never stuck. The Muhlenberg Art Association started going there on “First Fridays” when all of the artists studios were opened to the public, and then in 2007 I was offered a summer job working with the B-Smart art education program. This job inspired my career to work in non-profit art organizations and helped give me the foundation to be where I am now. I owe them a lot! It was good to hear they’re growing – the Banana Factory is part of ArtsQuest and they’re expanding their campus in Bethlehem.
Even though my website has been up for a while, this is the first time I’m using it as a blog as well as a place to maintain my portfolio. So, what will I be posting about? Since I’m currently working at Free Arts NYC, an arts and mentoring non-profit, as well as teaching and making art myself, topics might range from the NYC art world to arts education and advocacy, to what projects I’m working on now. Comments are encouraged! Feel free to drop me a line.
Thanks for taking this journey with me!