American Mosaic Summit 2015 Recap

Last week we traveled backwards in time (it always seems that way, anyway, traveling north from Richmond) to the breezy cold of Philadelphia. We went for the annual American Mosaic Summit hosted by the Society of American Mosaic Artists, our first time attending this event. This is the closest the summit has come to Richmond in the time we've known about it, so we knew we couldn't miss it this year. What a fantastic conference, packed full of mosaic community and inspiration! While Johannah attended classes and workshops, Kyle and the kids explored the wonders of the city.


On our first full day in town, I spent the day in Kelley Knickerbocker and Erin Pankratz-Smith's "Ready, Set, (Thin)Set, Go!" workshop. This enthusiastic class was chock full of information, and the beautiful sample pieces each student received are a great source of both aesthetic and practical inspiration. I can't wait to put all the great tips Kelley and Erin shared into action!

The next day I spent a few hours working on the annual Mosaic Marathon. Each year for the conference, a local mosaic artist designs a mural for a deserving local institution. The mosaic is completed by conference participants. This year the artists were Jessica Liddell and Claire Brill, and five mosaic panels were installed at a local elementary school. In many ways, the Mosaic Marathon is the heart of the conference: making mosaics, working as a community, bringing art into the world for a good cause.

Later that afternoon I met up with Kyle and the kids to see the sights. We stopped by Philadelphia City Hall to see the mosaic exhibition Fragments, Shards, & Pieces hosted by the Mosaic Society of Philadelphia. Pieces shown here are by Claire Brill, Ann Shaver, and Sharon Ritz.

City Hall is a magnificent building and made an appearance in many of our photos from this trip! Other highlights from our sightseeing tours include the Liberty Bell and Independance Hall, Reading Terminal Market, and large scale public mosaics, all within blocks of our hotel. We loved leaving our car parked in the garage and exploring this historic area on foot.

My last evening at the conference included talks by the legendary Isaiah Zagar, creator of Philadelphia Magic Gardens, and Rachel Sager, as well as a roundtable discussion on modern mosaic-making. It added fuel to my mosaic fires to hear the story of a body of work 40 years in the making, as well as the thoughts and musings of some my favorite  younger mosaic artists. So much of what they shared resonated with my own mosaic journey. I know these talks in particular will feed my inner conversation for many months to come. 

On our way out of town the next day, we stopped by the Magic Gardens for a peek of this spectacular folk environment. All in all, a wonderful working vacation packed full of mosaics and Philadelphia history and culture!