What Mosaics Can Teach Us
by Miriam Gottlieb
When I started giving mosaic workshops none of the lessons of mosaics had occurred to me yet. I just enjoyed this hobby and found it was a great way to be artistic without knowing or being able to draw even a straight line. I enjoyed the variety of results and the opportunity to meet new people and learn more about them.
Over the 4 years that I have been running these workshops, the world has changed, our lives have taken some very unexpected turns and I have had to adapt quickly to keep my business alive. This is an extremely valuable lesson.
To keep afloat, we have to be flexible and adapt to what the world sends our way. Of course, that is a lot easier said than done and sometimes it takes a little while and a little grief and processing time before we can even consider new ideas and adaptations.
One of the things that has become clear to me as I work with families and individuals on their mosaic projects is that while you are working it is difficult to see the picture or letters as anything but a bit of a mess. When you are working closely, it looks like a mishmash of broken pieces. Often people say they cannot imagine it looking like what they intended. What I do after hearing this is take a picture of their work in progress.
With the modern technology of our phones, everything is a quick click and you can see what it looks like right away. When showing participants these photos, the reaction is almost always the same. “Wow”. I have previously assured them, maybe after making some small adjustments in their tile placement, that it actually looks like what they intended. It usually takes seeing it for themselves in a photo to believe me.
The lesson I share with clients is that as in life, when you look at things very closely you can see every crack, blemish, or imperfection but when you take a step back and look at the whole picture it is most often WAY more beautiful.
In these difficult times, with so many people being evacuated from their homes, and having so many families separated by war, the biggest takeaway from mosaics is how they are made. The way I make most of my mosaic projects is by using ceramic tile that is shattered with hammers to make randomly shaped and sized pieces.
That is approximately what happened to the lives of thousands of people in Israel on October 7th. They were forcibly shattered unexpectedly. The families are in pieces that were not planned or measured in advance.
Like when making mosaic art, we as a nation are taking these small broken pieces and putting them together in new formations to make something new, beautiful, and enjoyable to experience. Yes, it will take a long time for it to feel right and most of us will be changed forever but we hope those changes will bring something new and beautiful along with them.
For some, it might be the connection we have to our homeland or our fellow Jews, for others it might be empathy for what others are experiencing or learning to make the best of a seemingly impossible situation and appreciating our resilience. Whatever it might be for each person I deeply hope that as a nation we come out of this stronger and more beautiful than the sum of our broken parts.
And maybe make a mosaic to mark this point in our nation’s, and your family’s history. Lots of little broken pieces can be rebuilt into a beautiful, meaningful, renewed “whole”.
Miriam Gottlieb started doing mosaic art as a hobby and turned it into a business providing custom art and workshops. Mosaics by Miriam now offers workshops and kits for all ages, from families to full communities across Israel. She is a proud partner of the Healing Arts Mosaics program.