|Mary Dignan Mosaics||
Sun Child was a lesson in trusting my tactile sense of design. I used to see just enough to be able to visually verify much of my work, but I don't have enough sight anymore to see most colors, especially pale colors on light backgrounds. I can still see the darker green against the white background, but except for an occasional spot of bright light reflecting off the gems, mirror shards, and stained glass pieces, I had to rely solely on my tactile sense for all the yellow colors. I often felt like I was walking on a tightrope over a deep ravine while I was working on this piece.
It was not until I grouted Sun Child (above) that I could get any visual sense of her rays reaching up, the spaces between the background tiles, and some details in the face and the garden. I don't see much detail in anything anymore, and I rely on sighted help for color verification and quality control, especially when I'm grouting and polishing. But I think Sun Child turned out all right, and so did her companion, Moon Child.
Each of these pieces consumed about 80 hours, plus an additional 8 hours of grouting and polishing time.
Dragonfly Spirit, 2010
Dragonfly Spirit is one of those mosaics with a special story just meant to be shared. It started out as a basic mosaic lesson. I was showing my students in one of my Spirit in the Arts classes how to use wheeled glass nippers to cut up plates with interesting rims, and how to use the tile nippers to nip and shape ceramic tiles.
The plate rim pieces and the tile rounds landed on the table in front of me as I worked.
And a dragonfly flew out.
This is the wondrous thing about the creative muse: the way she sends these lovely happy surprises. And yet, she is more about receiving than she is about sending. The gifts are always there, but one must be perceptive and receptive to the gift in order for it to manifest. I think one of our ultimate Life Lessons is learning how to open ourselves to receive and accept all aspects -- the full wholeness -- of our gifts of love and life.
Because Bread of Life and Spirit in the Arts http://www.breadoflife.org/sita0.aspx. have been such multi-faceted gifts to me, it was just right to give the mosaic to them. As part of their tenth anniversary celebration, they auctioned off the mosaic, and the buyer's story is yet another reflection of special gifts.
Kathy Squires writes:
“It was 9 years ago on Oct. 24th when I held my newborn granddaughter Elyse Rosalinda with her beautiful face, little hands and fingers in my arms. Her lifeless body and the grief of my son and daughter-in-law washed over me with waves of sorrow.
Since that day, every anniversary, we have sought to do something to help us on the journey of remembering, releasing and healing. One year we had a cake and candles to imagine together what it might have been like if she had lived. Another year, each person wrote a note of love to her, tied it to a latex helium balloon and released it into the night sky. Last year we chose to remember the day of her transformation with the symbol of the butterfly.
Every year my daughter-in-law would express her longing to create a little memorial space in her backyard where she could sit and ponder the brief but intimate life of her dearly loved daughter or “have a big cry.”
This year we chose the dragonfly as the symbol of transition and transformation. To the family’s amazement, their dog Buddy brought into the living room a great big dragonfly on Oct. 24th!
When I found out that I still had a chance to place a bid for artist Mary Dignan’s dragonfly mosaic, I had a sense that this might be the year to get the memorial space for Elyse on its way! I am so delighted that Mary’s courageous journey into blindness and her creation of the lively and exquisitely artistic “Dragonfly Spirit” will grace the family’s spirit in its journey of healing and hope.”
Peg Morrison writes:
Dear Ms. Dignan, I found your website on Google, and I love your work. I was wondering if I might display an image of your Bodacious Heart mosaic on HubPages (with credit of course)? I just created an account there, and your image fits some of my introductory text:
"Sometimeslife seems like a mosaic that was torn from the wall and sits in pieces on the floor. Not mmy life in particular....Just Life.
"The engineering genes that run in my family tell me what's wrong with the world. Of course, I didn't get the profitable ones[,] just that eye for what Should Be Different. The spiritual side sees what is creaative and good. The advocate sees the illness and heartbroken smile of someone who's always been left behind.
"So this is me trying to piece it all together."
Thank you for your consideration, Ms. Dignan.
And Mary writes back:
Hi Ms.Morrison: thanks so much for your email. It is always nice when I get kudos for my work, and it's specially nice when I hear how one of my pieces is so pertinent to someone else.
Yes, you may use the Bodacious Heart image, IF in addition to crediting me for making the mosaic, you would please add a "Photo by Anne Chadwick Williams" credit. ... Thanks for getting in touch.
BRAIN TUMOR GECKO, 2010-2013
Brain Tumor Gecko's first life started in 2010, when I used brass and copper cabinet door pulls and knobs and plumbing ferrules to make a magical garden for a ceramic gecko. But when I was getting Gecko Garden ready to include in my SMUD show, it fell and the poor gecko's head smashed to bits.
The piece was ruined, but I couldn't bring myself to dump it. I gathered up and saved all the shards I could, and finally figured out a way to use air-dry clay to mold a new head, and mosaic and grout it. The gecko doesn't look the same, but he's still enjoying his garden. Having gone through brain tumor surgery myself, I know just how he feels to have his head rearranged!
BLACK TREE, 1973
My very first mosaic ever, made for a college art class. I made a small coffee table top shortly after this piece, and did not make another mosaic for 25 years. I don't know what happened to the coffee table.