"Those that don't believe in magic will never find it"
- Roald Dahl
Well, I am really excited to share this news. Finally, I am going to create a public art mosaic in my hometown of Orillia!
When I first moved back home to the Orillia-area three years ago, I told everyone that I wanted to do a public art mosaic. I publically/formally even pitched it twice, showing photos of the mosaic walls that I had done before, telling all the stories of how they came together and the incredible feeling of community that they evoke....and well....nothing happened.
Mind you, a pandemic happened. But to be honest, I had kind of given up on the idea, or at least shelved it.
Something that felt totally separate, was that I was invited to do another public art project with the fun folks in the Community Village at the Mariposa Folk Festival again this year. I decided to do something wacky...we would make ceramic tiles of ourselves, our faces, but with no idea where they would end up. In a way, this open-ended idea is actually very similar to how I created the aWEsoME wall in downtown Kitchener....kind of like that 72' wall in that in the beginning, I had just said that I "wanted to tile a wall", with no clear idea on how or where, and somehow magically, the wall appeared, along with 300+ people to help me.
This time, I had the public make 150 tiles, with absolutely no clue what I would do with them. A wing and a prayer....my favourite kind of plan.
Understand this though, it's not totally groundless...Something in me totally believes that if something is a good idea, it will fly.
So, I tested this theory again. At the Mariposa Folk Festival over the course of 3 days, with 3 fabulous helpers, I taught about 150 people how to make a tile of their face. We brought my studio table and rugs and we made signs and flags and got all the materials ready, and it was a lot of work, but it was a huge success. So many happy faces.
I told all the people, "I like open-ended projects. Projects that don't have a defined ending, so that there is some room for it to evolve organically on it's own...."
I can tell you that this idea is typically met with one of two reactions. Reaction one is a reaction of skepticism. I see their face and I hear their inner voice loud and clear saying, "This lady is having me and all these people make tiles and she has no clue why!" or, reaction two: I get a look of happy disbelief....I can see their inner child as excited as mine to play with this gentle idea....I hear their inner voice saying, "Wow, that is cool. I like that idea."
Me, I have loved this idea because it removes my need to try to control everything. Also it makes the project bigger and better than my limited ideas of what is possible ever could. In a way, it also protects the project from stress. Like, when someone presses for details on where and when, I say confidently,
"I honestly don't know, let's see what happens."
So, I came home from Mariposa happily exhausted with all these face-tiles. I bisque-fired them in the kiln. It took 3 rounds. Then, they sat in my basement, greeting me for a month every time I came down to do laundry.
Then, one magical day a few weeks ago, I was at the Orillia Museum of Art & History. The Executive Director tells me to come and take a look at something at the front of the building. The concrete had been crumbling on the fascade of the stairs, so they'd had a gentleman install concrete board.
I could not believe my eyes.
"Do you know what works amazing on concrete board?" I asked, hardly able to contain my joy...."Tile!"
And with that, the dots connected.
This week I am madly glazing and firing the faces, and with help from a few more fabulous volunteers, we will install 150 'my_ceramic_selfie' face tiles from Mariposa 2022 outside of the Orillia Museum of Art & History.
“The universe is always speaking to us. ... Sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more.”
― Nancy Thayer