Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour

Mixed-Media Mosaic as Bas-Relief Sculpture

Artist Mollie Seymour’s mosaic plaque is a depiction of a small pueblo of cliff dwellings in a rugged canyon with water and sky rendered in bold andamento. Mollie made this for the mosaic for the courtyard of a condominium. I wanted to share it because it is a good example of using mixed-media mosaic to make a bas-relief sculpture.

The Treachery of Images by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, 1929.
The Treachery of Images by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, 1929. “This Is Not A Pipe.”

MMM: Where a Pipe Really Is a Pipe

Mixed-media mosaic (MMM) is a medium of art where elements of a composition can actually be the item being “depicted.” For example, a mosaic face could be smoking a real pipe. The artist can use a mix of found objects and elements rendered in conventional tile to produce results that engage the mind as both image and symbol all at once.

Using an object to represent itself in a larger image gives the art an added “dimension” that is at the heart of consciousness.

In mathematics and linguistics as well as in art, there is deep discussion about semantics vs syntax, and this aspect of mixed-media mosaic illustrates the problem in a profound way.

Mollie’s Pueblo

Mollie’s Pueblo Cliff Dwellings mosaic uses rough chunks of stone to render the rock face of the canyon wall

Dwellings detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour
Dwellings detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour

The dwellings appear to be made from piece of stone floor tile that was cut up with a wet saw, which is a powered rotary saw used to cut large tiles the same way a table saw is used to make long cuts in plywood.

The large floor tiles made from porcelain or another ceramic of some type textured to look like rough stone could have been used in the same way and probably would have been easier to cut without breaking than most types of stone. Making the doorway cutouts would have been particularly problematic with a more brittle material prone to breaking along invisible fault lines.

Elements like the square-ish dwellings with doorways cut out could have been custom-made and fired in a pottery studio, and that approach is frequently used in mixed media mosaic for certain elements, although it is usually used for something more detailed. (Think things like people and animals and signs with text.)

Dwellings close-up detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour
Dwellings close-up detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour

Rounded white stones were used as clouds. Notice how they are recognizable as clouds. Even though stone was also used for the face of the cliff and the border framing the mosaic, there isn’t any confusion about what the rounded white stones are supposed to be. I suspect many artists would have been afraid to do it that way, but everything about Mollie’s mosaic is bold and enthusiastic. I like very much.

Sun detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour
Sun detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour

About the Artist

Mollie’s most recent email to me said this:

I forgot to add I’m 92 and didn’t start mosaic work until I was 80. I’ve done about 60 pieces since then.

Wow! This mosaic is impressive work for an artist of any age. I can’t wait for Mollie to email me more pictures!

Sky detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour
Sky detail from Mixed-Media Mosaic Plaque by Mollie Seymour

12 thoughts on “Mixed-Media Mosaic as Bas-Relief Sculpture

  1. Karen

    Oh, how I love this! The mosaic is fabulous and then the icing on the cake…Mollie is a nonagenarian!! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful source of inspiration.

    Reply
  2. joyce

    Hi Joe,
    This wonderful work by a 92yr old deeply inspires me!! Gorgeous!
    Joe, do you do consultations? I have an outdoor installation I need help with. About 40-50 6×6 designs… each one is glued on mesh (unfortunately?) with the white glue I use for my INDOOR designs. Now I want to install them on the front side of our porch, which is painted wood. It will be exposed to the elements. The 6×6 pieces are stacked and waiting for me to understand what to do next. I’ll send a photo soon.
    thanks,
    joyce j.

    Reply
    1. Joe Moorman Post author

      That is the glue that is normally used to attach tile to mesh. If you grout the mosaic very well and take care that no glue is on the sides of the tiles, it will be acceptable.

      You shouldn’t mount the mosaic on wood. It needs a backer.

      Reply
  3. Kathie Karancz

    OMG! I love this and love the fact that Mollie is 92! Absolutely gorgeous. It screams everything I would love to accomplish but have been too afraid to try. Did she use thinset? Kathie

    Reply
      1. SharonR

        Mollie, you are an inspiration! I am 71, just retired. I live in Vancouver Canada. I have done some mosaic work throughout the years and took a course in the ancient way of creating mosaic works in Ravenna Italy 3 years ago. Seeing your work and how young you are is pushing me back to my studio!
        Thank you!

        Reply
  4. Sharon

    92! That is fabulous! This is such an inspiring piece! I have always wanted to give mixed media a try. I have a project in mind and this has given me some ideas. Thank you for posting this.

    Reply
  5. Colleen

    What a fabulous art piece for a courtyard; so well done in every way, colour, content and overall design.

    Reply
  6. Leni

    I am in awe of the beauty and the artistic method and of all these varied media meeting to create an amazing work of art. You give me the courage of creating! Thanks to Mollie.

    Reply

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