Mosaic: A picture or pattern produced by arranging together small colored pieces of hard materials such as stone, tile, or glass. It is a name of English origin meaning pattern of pieces. A combination of many different parts forming one thing.

Mosaics have a long history dating back 5,000 years. The earliest known examples appear in Mesopotamia. These early examples were primarily floors and pavements made using ivory, seashells, and stones. In the Byzantine era, mosaics covered the ceilings and walls of most churches. The glass tesserae created the illusion of a painting. Both of these historical examples were decorative, and the materials were used for their permanent long lasting qualities. 

Craft vs. Art is a topic that is often debated. Looking back into the history of visual decoration or functional objects, there was a distinction between the two. Art tended to be paintings and sculpture. Today, the line is blurring, and art can be almost anything. Mosaics that were once primarily made from glass, stones, and various natural objects installed onto 2 dimensional flat planes are now pushing the boundaries with a host of materials being used including: postage stamps, found objects, apples, trash, and even toasted bread slices imitating digitalized images.  These modern mosaics can cover three dimensional forms creating sculptures and other three dimensional objects. 

Two of the rule breaking 20th century artists that inspired me to work in mosaic are Antoni Gaudi and Niki de Saint Phalle. Gaudi was a Catalan Architect and artist. He created architectural mosaic facades.  Parc Guell, in Barcelona, Spain is one of his masterpiece environments. It is a mosaic paradise, with animals, benches, and buildings clad in broken ceramic tiles. Saint Phalle created her Tarot Garden in the southeastern region of Tuscany, Italy. It is also a garden of fantastic, monumental mosaics. Like many mosaics, these works are site specific and not portable. 

The works I chose for this exhibition are portable pieces that range in material use and explore a more modern approach to the mosaic medium. Creating a mosaic is like solving a puzzle. They involve design and a mastery of skills.

Thank you to the Bascom for letting me share my love of mosaic with you. I hope you enjoy the show. - Paula Smith, Guest Organizer 


Exhibiting Artists:

  • Pam Goode
  • Ashley Knight + Central Piedmont Community College Students
  • Paula Smith
  • Grace Stott 
  • Tom Thoune
  • Susan Wechsler
  • Laurie Beth Zuckerman