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Inward and outward

I'm one of 10 members of Cascadia Mosaic Collective, a group of Pacific Northwest professional mosaic artists (and friends) who create work for gallery exhibitions. This week, our new show "Portals" opened at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, WA.

Every couple years, we agree upon a theme for an upcoming exhibit that is at once specific and broad enough to spark interest and embrace our diverse styles. We work in many different kinds of material and use techniques that are sometimes modern and often hearken back to ancient mosaic tradition. Subject matter is extremely varied, with some artists working in abstraction and others creating representations of familiar imagery.

My work is focused on the natural world around me, in part because it transports me to another place. When I'm creating a tidepool or landscape in mosaic, my mind often wanders to the perspective of non-human inhabitants. How their human neighbors are making a mark on their habitat. What mysteries are held there, in communities of plants and animals we pass by without a second thought. Sometimes I imagine what it must have been like for other people to experience the same landscape years before our modern, human-built environment.

For the exhibit I created two pieces, inspired by familiar Oregon landscapes I visited in 2021. The first is a look outward at the natural world, from behind an iconic waterfall at Silver Falls State Park, North Falls. This unique place offers the chance to pause behind the water from the relative protection of a stone cavern, carved away by hundreds of years of erosion. To be in that space is mesmerizing and offers a truly special portal through which to see the world.

The second is a look deeply inward, again through water. This time our eyes are cast down into the startling turquoise waters of Little Crater Lake, a tiny body of water with the same coloration as its larger namesake. This one is located in Mt. Hood National Forest, on a popular short trail heading to more ambitious ones. The temperature and mineral content keeps this small lake so clear one can see all the way to its infinite depths, again transporting us to another place we cannot visit except in the imagination.

Opening Reception for the Portals exhibit is Saturday, May 14, 2022 from 5 to 7pm, with many of the artists present. More details here on how to visit the show on this and other dates.


'Cavern' (top) and 'Clarity' - smalti (glass) on tile backer with tinted mortar, 12"h x 12.5"w


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