Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens has a groundbreaking—or in this case, tile–breaking—new exhibition that is guaranteed to change the way you think about mosaic. “Shattering Expectations: MOSAIC 2014” is an exhibition in partnership with the Mosaic Society of Philadelphia, a non–profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the practice of mosaic art in the city. Featuring the work of some of the most accomplished mosaic artists in the country, “Shattering Expectations” reveals how this unique art form extends far beyond its normal aesthetic conventions.

“The eight artists represented in this exhibit are trailblazers and innovators in the use of a medium too–long regulated to the ‘decorative,’” writes Nancie Mills Pipgras, editor of Mosaic Art NOW and juror of “Shattering Expectations.” “These are makers who find mosaic absolutely necessary to realizing their artistic visions. The texture, color, reflectivity or translucence of the materials inspires them. The meditative, whole body experience of making enthralls them.”

Featured artists include Karen Dimit, Yakov Hanansen, Yulia Hanansen, Samantha Holmes, Rachel Sager, Carol Stirton–Broad, Carol Talkov and Brooks Tower. Their talents range from being entirely self–taught to studying with Italian master mosaicists. Each tackles a different theme, including climate change, technology, feminism, beauty and self–discovery.  All agree, however, that mosaic is their only mode of artistic communication. “I have always viewed the world in pieces,” states Talkov. “Only when all the pieces are assembled do I see the full picture; mosaics give me the language to express this.”

Submissions from Yulia Hanansen’s “Forces of Nature” series are one of the many highlights of “Shattering Expectations.” Inspired by satellite imagery as well as articles on the environment and climate change, Hanansen creates beautifully colored and intricate forms of hurricanes, fires and powers of water and wind.  “The series is a visual exploration of movement, flow of matter and overlap of static views into one dynamic scene,” she explains. “I achieve these effects by overlaying glass tesserae in multiple directions.”  The result is an elegant, shimmering portrayal of what are normally viewed as chaotic elements.

Another artist that stands out in this exhibition is Pittsburgh–native Rachel Sager. Sager explores the ideas of place, travel and the unknown in her artwork, and  mosaic serves as the best medium for her to stretch the boundaries of these themes. Her brightly colored works include a wide range of materials, from naturally unearthed tesserae to pieces of computer printers. More often than not, however, Sager builds her art “literally from the Earth beneath my feet.” She elaborates on this, explaining, “often, that Earth has a story to tell, and I see it as a privilege to have tapped into the knowledge of how to tell those stories in stone. It is important to me to build art that embraces both concept and craft.”

Creative, unconventional and literally down–to–earth, “Shattering Expectations” provides a deeper sense to the art of mosaic, a medium regarded as purely aesthetic. “Chaos, fragmentation, the literal breaking of the constituent elements: there is a violence at the heart of mosaic,” says artist Samantha Holmes. “But it is the connection between this process of destruction and that of creation...that offers a commentary on contemporary living, and a possible way forward.” The exhibit will remain at the Magic Gardens until April 20th.

Friday, March 7 to Sunday, April 20, 2014

1020 South St. 


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