Some inspiration for those cooking Thanksgiving meals today! A full-scale and exactingly detailed kitchen encrusted in a rainbow of glistening beads, Liza Lou’s monumental installation took five years to make. After researching kitchen design manuals as well as historical tracts about the lives of nineteenth-century women, the artist made drawings and three-dimensional models to achieve a loose outline of Kitchen’s floor plan. Lou then fashioned the objects out of paper mâché, painted them, and applied the beads in a mosaic of surface pattern.
[Liza Lou (b. 1969), Kitchen, 1991–95. Beads, plaster, wood, and found objects. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Peter Norton]
Sixteen years ago, Chicago-based artist Jim Bachor traveled to Ravenna, Italy, to learn the ancient art of creating mosaics. “The permanence of the art form is what drew me to it first. Marble and glass do not fade,” he says. Since that transformative moment, he’s devoted his work to expanding people’s ideas of what a mosaic can be. “Using the same materials, tools, and methods of archaic craftsmen, I create mosaics that speak of modern things in an ancient voice,” he says. “From junk food to coffee to breakfast cereal, my work permanently locks into mortar unexpected concepts drawn from the present.”
In 2013, Bachor took this innovative project even further. He decided to use his craft to address a pressing need in his city: filling potholes on the streets of Chicago. He’s experimented with many themes: mosaics that proclaim the potholes as authentic “Chicago-style” potholes, mosaics of flowers and popsicles. In 2015, he was even able to install three such pieces in Jyväskylä, Finland with the help of 109 backers on Kickstarter.
Pothole season will soon be upon us, and Bachor is hoping to fund his next run of mosaics and installations. Help him out right here.
The ‘Triumph of Orthodoxy’, an icon painted in Constantinople. c. 1400. It is a copy of an earlier icon that commemorated the restoration of icon veneration in 843. On the upper level, Empress Theodora and her young son Michael III and Patriarch Methodios and priests flank an image of the Virgin and Child. Below stand a group of iconophile martyrs and holy figures.
The 8th and 9th centuries saw the Byzantine Empire rocked by the religious controversy over the veneration of icons, known today as iconoclasm. The sudden onslaught of the Arab invaders in the 600s AD, and resulting loss of over half of the empire’s territories, prompted many to speculate that Divine Favour had turned against the Christian Empire. The reverence shown to icons of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and various saints and holy martyrs was quickly pointed out as the most likely cause of God’s displeasure, as it so easily mirrored the practice of idolatry, that is, the worshipping of false gods in place of the one true God (as proscribed by the Third Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…”). Added weight was given to this argument as the invading Muslims were noted for their refusal to allow depictions of either God or his prophet Muhammad.
In two separate periods, 730-787 and 814-842 AD, iconoclast Emperors and their heirs ordered the removal and destruction of various icons from the Empire’s many churches and the persecution of their many venerators and creators, as well as installing vast mosaics of the Cross in the removed icons instead (the Cross being a most potent symbol of Christ’s power).
Interestingly, both of these phases of religiously motivated destruction were brought to an end by women wielding imperial power. The Empresses Irene and Theodora, ruling in the name of their infant sons, called for Ecumenical Councils of the Christian Church, inviting representatives from the four major Patriarchates in Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, where they denounced iconoclasm as an unwelcome innovation in Christian tradition (arguing that God’s decision to shape his one and only Son in the image of a mortal man allowed for the representing of Christ, his mother, and countless other holy figures, in paint and wood) and restoring the Orthodox adoration of icons.
Help the Stephen Gaynor School in New York put solar on their roof.
For every 50 people who donate, Mosaic will pledge $100 to Stephen Gaynor School to go solar, along with a free quote from a trusted Mosaic installer. What a great project to get involved with. Click here to donate: https://joinmosaic.com/solar/new-york/new-york/stephen-gaynor-school-153772
There’s an interesting story behind this mosaic. Are you ready? [Takes deep breath] Here goes. In 1910, the area around Seventh Avenue & Christopher Street was being widened by the City, which declared eminent domain and razed about 300 buildings. Among them was an apartment building owned by a man named David Hess. Hess fought the City and eventually lost, and this small triangle was all that was left of his former property. Instead of shrugging his shoulders and giving it to the City as asked, Hess installed this mosaic on his property—the date was July 27, 1922. The property essentially became part of the sidewalk used by the public anyway, but technically it is private property. Hess sold the triangle in 1938 to the cigar store it can be found in front of. See it today in front of Village Cigars near the Christopher Street 1 train station. It reads, “Property of the Hess estate, which has never been dedicated for public purpose.”