To date, Mount Vernon Unitarian Church has had two artists to display their work since the Spring 2015. First there was our member Kara Larabee who displayed some of her work earlier this year as this idea began to take shape. Some of you may know Kara due to her involvement with the preschool and others due to her work with the Book Sale and all the Art work displays. In addition, she designed the beautiful butterfly designed walls in the bathroom off of the nursery in the Meeting House. After the last Book Sale, some of her work was displayed on the walls around the fireplace. Visually this space came alive. In addition to her work in the Commons, the walls of the bathrooms have become visual reminders of the beauty we live with every day around us.
As our accidental initiative continues, we have a second artist in residence, member Nina Tisara. Some of us know long-time member Nina Tisara for her past work as our church rental events coordinator. Some know her as a photographer. And some know her as the founder and former director of Living Legends of Alexandria, the non-profit project to identify, honor and chronicle the people making current history in the City of Alexandria.
Most of us don’t know there is another facet to Nina. She is an artist who several years ago started creating intricate mosaics of porcelain tile, sometimes adding bits of colored glass and stones.
In the words of critic Trudi Van Dyke, “Each small tile is shaped perfectly to convey the ‘painterly’ intent of the piece. The color palette seems endless as she arranges pieces to flow into shapes and shades.” Nina uses the double reverse process taught by her former teacher and mentor Gene Sterud, a retired archaeologist and master of the process. She says she likes the process because it enables her to change shapes and colors as she goes. “If I don’t think something is quite right, I take up the tiles, and redo them. Sometimes I do that several times until it feels right to me. It’s like working in clay rather than stone.”
Nina majored in sculpture at the High School of Music and Art in New York City. Although she hasn’t counted all the time it takes to complete a piece, she estimates over 50 hours of intense work on a 15×15 artwork. Photos of Nina’s mosaics, both those that are available and those that have been “adopted,” can be seen at www.NinaTisara.com. Nina says, “Just as you can’t walk in the same river twice or read the same book twice, I can’t make the same mosaic twice. But if you like a mosaic that has been sold, I can create a similar piece for you.”
Please stop by and see Nina’s work and feel free to ask her about it when you see her. This exhibit entitled “Intricacies” is part of an evolving initiative to showcase the work of members. A percentage of all sales will be donated to the church.