ALEA III salutes Lukas Foss, an American master, on Wednesday, March 20,
at 8 p.m., at the Tsai Performance Center
Week of 15 March 2002 · Vol. V, No. 26


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A put-together look
Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2000. Vitreous glass, porcelain, and gold-leaf smalti, 5' x 3'.

The ancient, painstaking art of the mosaic, revived briefly in the 1960s, has made a comeback in the past decade. It's a favorite medium for College of Fine Arts alumni officer Karla Cinquanta, whose multifaceted portrait of Hillary Clinton will be pictured in The World Book of Mosaics (Sterling Publishers, 2002), a color tabletop book that features an international selection of work by contemporary mosaicists.

An award-winning photographer, Cinquanta took a mosaic workshop six years ago. Enchanted by the art form, she put aside her camera and began creating mosaic wall hangings and boxes in her Brookline studio. Hundreds of tesserae, or bits of marble, ceramic, glass, and porcelain, go into each of her works, and she hand-cuts every piece.

"Making mosaics is really meticulous and challenging, but I love it because it's also very Zenlike, a very relaxing process," says Cinquanta, who belongs to the Society of American Mosaic Artists, a 125-member organization founded in 1999. "It's amazing how one misplaced tile can affect the whole mood of the piece. You can spend easily eight hours just working on one small section."

Centuries ago Greco-Roman artists commonly depicted senators in mosaic, and Cinquanta's portrait of Clinton striking a classical pose updates this concept. "The image shows Mrs. Clinton as a powerful and stately figure," she says. "The wild grass at her feet symbolizes the entanglement of controversy surrounding her public image. The figure appears to rise above the entwined grass, and the blossoming flowers signify potential, growth, and promise."

Now working on a series of smaller portraits, Cinquanta hopes to have her first exhibition within two years. "Mosaics are sublime," she says. "I love the ancient feel of them. It's not such a common practice among artists because it takes a real investment of time. But that's what I like about it."


15 March 2002
Boston University
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