Artes y Artesanias

Healing through the Arts

Mosaics – Building from Broken-ness

In 2010, about a dozen of my neighbors gathered to brainstorm about an empty lot created when the city knocked down a dilapidated house.  Some of us wanted a community garden.  Some wanted a safer place for the handful of six-to-ten year olds who had turned the space into a summertime touch football field and a wintertime site for snowball forts.  A grant provided by the Mayor’s Advisory Board made it possible for us to do both.  Thus was born Prospect Place Gardening & Gathering Space (PPGGS) at a corner joining two neighborhoods within the boundaries of the Eastside of Lansing, Michigan.

Perennial Garden Stepping Stones

Perennial Garden Stepping Stones

Gaudi Bench

Gaudi Bench

Shoots & Ladders Game Table

Shoots & Ladders Game Table

Remembering an experience making mosaic stepping stones for nearby Hunter Park back in 2009 and inspired by Gaudi’s benches in Barcelona, I proposed what turned out to be an overly ambitious plan to place four-foot long stone benches at the front of PPGGS.

Neighbors were invited to donate broken bits of pottery, ceramics, knickknacks, and so on with a goal of creating a design that would show growth above and below the soil.  It was a great idea that broke apart as we discovered we lacked the skills to release the large bench pieces from their molds.  The creation of mosaic game tables mounted on huge wooden spool donated by our local electric company were a greater success. Children and adults enjoyed using them, but we still struggle to figure out how to keep them from disintegrating during Michigan’s harsh winters.

PPGGS Entryway Stone

PPGGS Entryway Stone

My more modest entryway plaque, mounted on a piece of broken concrete unearthed during our initial laying out of the garden, incorporates some of the original broken pottery.  Installed during our Summer 2014’s fourth season, it welcomes us to continue to grow community together in spite of earlier failures.

Eyes Wide Open Exhibit, January 2015.  The decision to create a mosque-like structure for the to hold the names of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan presented challenges as I worried about my limited skills in mosaic art.  Yet, it was clear that this representative sample of the thousands who died needed to be honored within an art form prevalent in their home communities.

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