By Frances Figart
The art of mosaics stretches back over 5,000 years and its appeal is as strong in modern times as ever. Fine art, enduring public pieces and garden objects only scratch the surface of the contemporary mosaic world today.
For the past three years, Linda Pannullo Mosaics and Workshops has been hosting the best mosaic instructors in the world right here in Western North Carolina. “It used to be ‘the best in the USA,’ but in 2016 I brought in an artist from Canada and this April we will have a British master,” Pannullo says. “They teach all over the states and some internationally and they are recognized by the Society of American Mosaic Artists.”
Pannullo is a self-described ‘hands-on’ person. Having been a massage therapist for the past 28 years, she still practices and teaches at the Center for Massage and Natural Health. “I have always had a creative streak and my interest in mosaics began when I took a five-day workshop from Sherri Warner Hunter at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, in 2006,” she says. “Since then, mosaics have become a huge part of my life.”
Meet the Instructors
Dianne Sonnenberg – March 11–12
An internationally recognized mosaic artist from Austin, TX, Dianne Sonnenberg is known for her large-scale works as well as her fascination with sacred geometry and mandala art. Incorporating these techniques, she will teach participants to use stained glass to create mosaic designs on old recycled windowpanes. “I am happy to be returning to teach again in Asheville,” she says, “because I love the creative, invigorating and friendly personality of the city, as well as the opportunity to explore the wide variety of really great restaurants.”
Martin Cheek – April 8–9
Well-known British author Martin Cheek is a versatile mosaic artist who invented an original technique to incorporate glass fusions into his mosaics. In so doing, he essentially transformed the art and added unique textural interest to his work. The intricately detailed glass fusions, which will be shared with participants in this workshop, take mosaics to another dimension, adding varying degrees of reflectivity and energy, something not easily obtained using traditional mosaic materials.
Laura Rendlen – June 24–25
A sculptor by trade, Kansas City artist Laura Rendlen arrived at mosaics after spending many years as a painter. “Mosaics combine the tactile construction of sculpture, the vision of painting and the timeless permanence that I had been searching for in art,” she says. “Contemporary mosaics reach for new levels of this ancient art form. For myself and in my workshops, I like to explore nature.” This year her workshops will focus on building gardens using various materials, techniques and textures.
Linda Biggers – JuLy 29–30
Until a couple of decades ago, New York artist Linda Biggers admired mosaic art, “but I had no idea where to begin,” she recalls. “Then one day a cracked eggshell on the counter gave me an idea.” So began Biggers’ journey into eggshell mosaic. Painting eggshells gave her unlimited color combinations and she discovered ways to cut them into shapes to use as tesserae. “Eggshells give my mosaics a painterly quality,” she says. “I enjoy sharing my technique with others and look forward to coming to Asheville to teach a fun-filled workshop.”
Susan Wechsler – August 4–7
Colorado artist Susan Wechsler found her artistic inspiration from her mother. “I have a MFA from NYU in costume design, so it was my mom’s suggestion that I mosaic dresses,” she says. Now teaching others all over the globe how to mosaic small dress forms into professional pieces, Wechsler finds sharing her creative process empowering. “I always have lots of visuals swimming in my head,” she says. “First, I gather my palette from all of my china and discarded treasures, and from there I simply let go to the process and let the piece fly!”
Carol Shelkin – October 28–30
Philadelphia artist Carol Shelkin offers her popular realism in mosaics workshop as the perfect symbolic close to Pannullo’s mosaic instructor series. “Like many artists, I’ve dabbled in many mediums,” she says. “Now, I have found mosaics, combining all my artistic experiences.” When she works with glass creating mosaic art, Shelkin says she senses a harmony and familiarity from her youth. “When I was young my crayons were in rainbow order. Now my glass is in rainbow order.”
Whether you are a novice or an advanced artist, if you are interested in mosaics, there is a workshop for you among this wonderful variety of teachers and techniques.
“After travelling and taking workshops, I realized there was an opportunity to create a mosaic community here since Asheville is a destination city,” says Pannullo, who teaches a regular class at John C. Campbell and at Painter’s Greenhouse in Old Fort. Her popular mosaic switch-plates are at K2 in downtown Asheville, Art MoB in Hendersonville and in the aSHEville Museum.
“The mosaic community is growing—locals and long distance travelers alike have taken workshops,” she says. “Many have come back repeatedly to experience the expertise of the teachers and the Asheville ambiance.”
All workshops take place at Renaissance Glass Studio in Alexander, NC, just 25 minutes west of downtown Asheville. Learn more at lindapannullomosaics.com or by calling 828.337.6749.