Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mosaic Tree of Life for the Unitarian Church of Berkeley, CA

I want to share this project with you all because it is 
very sweet and profound. 
I am in the process of creating a mosaic tree for the Unitarian Church in Berkeley. They contacted me last Spring with an idea - to have their congregation create a mosaic together. The ministers there are Barbara and Bill Hamilton-Holway. 
Their idea for this mosaic started with these thoughts:
"Unitarian Universalism brings together pieces of wisdom from world religions, science, poetry, personal experience to create a whole that is beautiful. Each person contributes their unique piece to add to the whole. Out of our broken pieces, together we create beauty."

Starting in June, Barbara led a series of sermons about the nature of healing our own and each others brokenness through love within a community. In this project, each person would hold people's "broken pieces" in their hands and create a whole new work of art with them - symbolizing the healing we can offer each other.
The congregants were asked to bring pieces for the mosaic tree - things that symbolized their lives, their loves, their wins and losses and just anything else they wanted to share with the group. They brought pottery, jewelry, plates, mugs, etc. I processed these offerings, broke everything down and all of the pieces were put into communal bins. 

We organized three mosaic workshops - on June 17, 24 and August 14 - where each person would make a mosaic leaf. Well the response was overwhelming! The first week 62 leaves were made. The second week, 72. The third week, 93! I actually ran out of substrates the second and third weeks. What a great group of people! Here are some of the many leaves they made.

I took the leaves home to let them dry on their mesh backing, then cut them out and repaired any non-sticking areas, then carefully packed them up. 

At the same time, in my studio, I created sections of the trunk using other, larger and not-appropriate-for-leaves pieces. For example I used these small, old and delicate porcelain horses whole because I felt it would have been a shame to break them up for tessarae for the leaves.

I began the installation of the mural at the beginning of August . By this time I was very eager to begin! 

I decided on a Weeping Willow shape for the tree - a graceful, drooping shape that also reminded me of fireworks. So I used long, thin pieces of mirror to delineate a "falling" flow to the branches.

This is only about halfway done now. I will work on it every day until it's complete. Stay tuned for more pictures as the work progresses! This tree is approximately 8 feet tall.
The dedication will coincide with the church's anniversary on September 30, 2011.

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