Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Featured Work: Lament
From Sourcebook Juried Show Curator Stephen Watson:
Eugenia Sherman Brown’s mosaic is a tribute to the muchness and manyness of unity; how small slivers and shards indispensably compose a larger reality.
Describe your featured work
Lament began in desperation. I had promised a large piece for an upcoming collaborative art exhibit. But distracted by my husband’s brain cancer, I felt paralyzed in my art studio. Pieces of glass and stone sat neglected on my work table. Tools untouched. “Well,” you say, “perhaps you really cannot produce a large mosaic, but maybe you can make a lot of little ones.” I plumbed my anxiety and grief, and designed a large mosaic made of small ones. I constructed one 4″ x 4″ mosaic, then connected it to another. I recalled my slow walk of mourning with my parents’ deaths. Tears. Meanderings. I wondered how long my husband and I had to share meals and laughs and evenings. Dead ends and loose ends. I remembered that old heartbreaks heal so slowly. I embedded the words, “Where sorrows are comforted, and wounds are mended” (inspired by Psalm 137).
Mosaic art involves broken things. After design sketches, I break opaque glass (called smalti) or stone into small pieces. I may add a little letterpress type, shells, or metal bits. Then I begin the re-formation. Setting the lead lines with mortar, one piece at a time, I play with variation of value and color. It is tactile and messy. It is slow art. The “process” is metaphor. My emotional / spiritual journey of decades includes shattered dreams and a broken heart: a re-formed view of myself and of God. It is tactile and messy. It may take a long time….but it is redemption, healing, and beauty.
What are you making now?
Over a year ago, my long-time friend Juana and I agreed to swap pieces of art. She is a painter and novelist in NYC. Juana often paints vessels (not ships at sea, but cups or pitchers or bowls). She fulfilled her part of the agreement by sending me her painting of a chalice. After exploring her vessels online and pondering their metaphorical possibilities, I opted to create a mosaic for her inspired by one of her vessels. I hope to honor the spirit of her work while incorporating my own mosaic style and my “take” on the subject. It is in-process on my work table now.
Why do you belong to CIVA?
Art is spiritual, exploring the depths of our hearts and our longing to love and to be loved. I am a Christian. I believe in God’s overwhelming love for each of us. And I am an artist. I relish the company of those with whom I share one or both of these appellations. Gathering with artistic people sparks my creative impulses. As they share their souls in their art and conversation, they nudge me to deeper crevasses of my heart, and propel me to advance the technical side of my work. I am grateful for CIVA’s big tent approach to faith and the visual arts.
I sprouted in the midst of Appalachian mountains, church, and Mom & Dad. In my 40’s, in the thick of a career as a history professor, I stumbled upon an artist making a mosaic. Standing entranced, I was unaware that I was on the doorstep of a career change. Soon I found my way to the Chicago Mosaic School and later the UW-Madison Art Department. With the encouragement of my late husband and our now-grown son, I shifted to joy-filled days of breaking glass and stone, and forming mosaics.