Jaime is talented in many ways, finding venues to express his creativity since he was very young. Artistic curiosity runs in his family: "I have eleven siblings and a few of them are artistic. My father is seventy years old and he loves to learn new trades; right now he is learning how to solder. My father is very creative and he makes repoussé and likes to make art with recycled elements."
After an injury at work, Jaime struggled to keep afloat both physically and mentally. At his first Piece by Piece workshop, Jaime says, he was excited to find a place where he could try something new and earn some much-needed income. He attended every workshop, and when he didn't have funds to pay for bus fare, he would walk for hours to participate, arriving early to help set up and staying late to clean up.
"Untitled" abstract by Jaime
Within six months, he had sold fourteen of his mosaic pieces. More importantly, Jaime says, he gained self-confidence and a will to live. Being out of work and injured, he was isolated and depressed. Going to Piece by Piece, he says, gave him purpose and a sense of community.
As his skills improved, Jaime became qualified through our certificate program to participate in commission work, and even to work on a large-scale public art project with a team of artists. This, he says, is the biggest reward of all. To see his artistic contribution become part of a larger collaborative effort, which will be shared and enjoyed by hundreds of people, is inspiring and something to be proud of.
Jaime, center, with fellow Piece by Piece artisans Jose and Deborah, receiving recognition for their participation in the Villas at Gower public art project.
Today, Jaime is awaiting the date for a surgery that may help alleviate the pain from his back injury. He continues to participate in Piece by Piece workshops, using the money he earns through selling his work to contribute to his brother's household, and purchase more materials and bus fare. He also spends a portion of whatever he makes through Piece by Piece on supplies he donates to the workshops, be it paintbrushes from the dollar store, or scraps of wood he finds at the hardware store.
Below Jaime talks about his experience with Piece by Piece and mosaic art.
Have you done another type of art? I love cooking and in the past I wanted to become a chef. Cooking classes were expensive so I couldn't attend chef school, but I still do it and enjoy it. I've also been doing crochet for twenty years and I am self-taught.
Do you have a favorite artist who influences your work? All the artists influence me lots because each art is very different from the other even though, in the end, the finished piece is a mosaic. Sherri Warner Hunter has been a huge influence in my work. She taught a concrete class at Piece by Piece and since then, I've been very focused using the concrete technique with mosaics.
How long have you been taking workshops with Piece by Piece? The first week of September, I will have three years.
What do you like about Piece by Piece? The people that support us are very patient, understanding, capable, have great criteria, mastery, sensibility and they really encourage us. They don’t discriminate and they treat everyone equally. Thank you for the opportunity of being with everyone at Piece by Piece, and to our founder Sophie Alpert.
Concrete birdbath base created entirely from scratch by Jaime.
What is your favorite piece you've made? My favorite artwork to make is birdbaths because I can make them the way I imagined from beginning to end. They are my creation and that gives me life.
Sculptured concrete by Jaime
What is something you would like to learn more about? I would like to learn to make faces, fountains, abstract art, but most importantly, anything they teach me at Piece by Piece. I accept the classes happily. I would like to learn to create what I see and feel.
Jaime (R) with fellow Piece by Piece artists Jose and Hilda at unveiling of Universal Discover a Star mural.
What is the most important thing you have learned in the classes? The most important thing I have learned has been how to develop my talent, to respect the different opinions, to have tenacity, to challenge myself, and to practice a lot so to look for perfecting my art.
Jaime enjoys letting others know about Piece by Piece. He says: "I share my work by gifting pieces to people, talking to them about the wonderfulness of learning this recycled art. Piece by Piece is an organization that helps develop the art and inspiration that we have hidden within us, with the help of people that are so well trained, have lots of practice in mosaics, and are knowledgeable and patient. The teachers are a really amazing team. Thank you for all you have given me!"