In the hands of Asheville mosaic artist and teacher Linda Pannullo, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Ten years ago she got hooked on the ancient art form after taking a week-long workshop. But she wanted to be around others who shared her passion for mosaic, so five years in, she started hosting her own workshops in Asheville. She explains how she uses the “wonderfully tactile” art to forge community.
What’s inspiring about teaching the process of mosaic?
When people make a mosaic, it’s very forgiving, and their creative process is unleashed. They learn to use new tools. It’s a lot of fun to teach and then see people create.
The first mosaics were found at least three millennia BCE. And yet you say it’s a trending genre …
I want to create a mosaic community because I think mosaic is undergoing a renaissance. I do four or five workshops a year, and bring in the best instructors in the world. I’ve created a family of mosaic artists.
Putting the human pieces together to form a social mosaic?
Yeah. I think my life is like a mosaic. I am in this community of tesserae [the technical name for the pieces that comprise a mosaic] and it’s fun to see how all the pieces fit together.
What’s your design approach?
For me, the creative process is pretty organic. Sometimes I just follow my instincts, with no preconceived notions. I like to do abstract compositions sometimes, because then my conscious mind is overridden, and I let my feelings come forward.
Does preparation take more time than execution?
Once you plan your mosaic design, you have to cut the pieces. Sometimes it can be several thousand.
Do you ever break dishes in your kitchen just to get more art supplies?
Maybe not in my kitchen … but one of the things that I love about teaching is that we encourage you to break things.
What about all those sharp edges?
I leave a little of my DNA on every piece.
Linda Pannullo’s mosaics are displayed at Asheville’s K2Studio in the Kress Building (59 College St.) and at Art MoB Studios & Marketplace in Hendersonville (124 4th Ave E). She’s organized a two-day workshop, April 21-22, at Frank Tuuri’s Renaissance Glass Studio (2 Renaissance Place, Alexander, off Leicester Highway). British mosaic artist and author Martin Cheek will teach creative use of glass fusions in mosaic animal portraits. To register or for more information, visit lindapannullomosaics.com.