Mosaics at the Art Center

The Art Center of the Bluegrass is facilitating a community exploration of mosaic artwork this fall, including community classes, workshops with local students, an interactive exhibit of mosaic art, and a public art installation. Check out our Facebook album for photo documentation of the project, provided by Nick Lacy Photography. We’ll be adding pictures throughout the fall!

Mosaics are one of the oldest art forms in the world, with examples dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE. Popular in the Greek and Roman world, mosaics can be found in catholic basilicas from the 4th century through the Renaissance, in early Islamic architecture (7th and 8th centuries), and in the Byzantine art of the Middle Ages. Through several projects this fall, we will explore how this ancient art form remains relevant today.

The Art Center has engaged Louisville artist Tracy Pennington of Madcap Mosaics as guest artist for the project. She is a member of the Louisville Visual Artisans guild and is a member of the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artist Directory. Tracy has recently completed several high-profile mosaic commissions in Kentucky, including creation of two wall murals for Makers Mark distillery.

Pennington will lead a series of workshops with students from the Kentucky School for the Deaf over the next several weeks. Students will design and create a mosaic mural that will be installed on the side elevation of the 4th street entrance ramp to the Art Center. Kinkade says that the mural will not be representational, but rather will feature colors and patterns. “We are excited to once again partner with the Kentucky School for the Deaf,” says Kinkade. “We’ve gotten to know many of the KSD students over the past few years through our free field trip program and we look forward to seeing their creative talents shine through this project.”

Kinkade says that one of the goals of the project is to help foster a sense of “place” for KSD students. “The Kentucky School for the Deaf plays such an important role in Danville’s identity and history,” says Kinkade. “We wanted their students to be able to participate in the ongoing beautification of our downtown in a very visible, tangible way. Being able to point to a piece of public art and say – ‘I made that!’ – forges a powerful sense of community connection.”

In addition to the student workshops, Pennington is teaching three community mosaic workshops and also gave a public lecture on the history and enduring appeal of the art form. Later in the fall, the Art Center will host an interactive mosaic exhibit that features both professional and student artwork and also provides hands-on opportunities for the public to contribute to a temporary mosaic installation inside the Art Center.

The primary funding for the mosaic project is coming from the National Endowment for the Arts via their Challenge America grant program, which offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations — those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

Once this initial grant was secured, the Art Center was able to leverage additional funding for the project. The project was selected from a national pool of applicants for an AARP Community Challenge Grant and also received funding from the LG&E-KU Arts in the Bluegrass grant program via LexArts. “This project really resonated with our funding partners,” says Kinkade. “We’re very grateful for their support.”