MosaicGloucester is a large-scale community mosaic mural, which will be installed on the Americold building at 69 Rogers Street in Gloucester, MA. For a detailed description of the project, please read further.
I am working on creating something new:
Gloucester, Massachusetts, is located on and covers most of Cape Ann, 31 miles northeast of Boston. I have been a partial resident of Gloucester all my life. Gloucester—infused with America’s history and its own—is surrounded by ocean, and, for the time being, it remains a very authentic place. On the way to nowhere, except by water, Gloucester is preserved from the overwhelming homogenization of our age. Strongly influenced by its Italian and Portuguese residents, Gloucester is a historic fishing town; however, due to the depleting of our limited oceans, there have been increased restrictions on fishing, profoundly impacting the local economy. Gloucester is at risk of being diluted, changed, turned from a vibrant real community to a place like too many others.
I want to make a visual representation of Gloucester’s oral history, to tell its layered tales —through its citizens— in a lasting, accessible, and engaging way. There are monuments and plaques throughout town, but they might engage only the history-geek among us. I want to make a sculptural piece of mosaic art in a public location that people of all ages could enjoy, interact with, learn from, and own, a draw for residents and visitors. It would be a permanent installation that viewers walk around and through.
Tiles will have texture: concave impressions, convex protrusions, embossed text. These varied textured tiles collaborate to create the fabric of the mosaic, adding dimensionality to the story the mosaic is making with its larger, more graphic images. The work can be read on two levels: micro -- the surface of the tiles; macro -- the images made up by the tiles. The whole is enhanced by twinkly pieces of mirror, which both catch the light, and reflect the viewer into the work. The content will be driven by interviews of Gloucester citizens, information from historical records, and references to the local geography.
As for me, I created a series of large-scale community mosaic murals while living in West Palm Beach, Florida. The largest, on the side of the Armory Art Center, measures about 1,000 square feet, and was built during two years involving over 400 young people who participated at various levels of engagement. I also created mosaic murals at various elementary schools, working with the faculty and the students to make work that brought art together with curriculum to create a series of images on the walls of the school, both decorative and informative.
Stage one of the Gloucester project is fieldwork: going out into the community to gather information. I will start with my own hypotheses but will explore, document, chronicle, map out what I discover about boatbuilding, fishermen and their families, the fish-processing industry, cultural groups and immigration, Gloucester’s particular past, illustrating topics within topics. Stage two: as designer and facilitator I will synthesize my discoveries into imagery on two levels: the form of the structure to be tiled, and the images illustrated thereupon. Stage three: making tiles. A portion of the tiles will be created in the community through workshops with sites in the community: senior centers, clubs, students in the schools. Stage four: bringing it all together -- adhering tiles to the surface of the sculptural walls, finishing with grout.
I believe I am singularly suited for this project because of my background, both with the medium and with the subject. First of all, I have the vision and skills to create this particular work. My ties to Gloucester will help me be a compassionate and effective information-gatherer. My personal history with the city fuels my passion for the project. My previous projects help me be prepared for the scale and planning the undertaking requires.
Our world is moving so quickly, we sometimes don’t pause to reflect on what is getting diluted around us, or take time to remember what came before. I am excited to be a conduit, synthesizing information into a visual oral history, bringing the past out of the archives and onto the street. I want to harness the accessibility of mosaic’s folk-art qualities, but with a contemporary approach, utilizing dynamic concepts and materials so that the finished work is interactive and experiential, to show where Gloucester has been, and to provide hope for where it’s going.