"Milestone": The Journey of Piece by Piece Artist John

hammer and hardie.jpg

The impact our workshops have on our participant artists is both inspiring and empowering. Often, there is the discovery of something new about ourselves or an exploration of our past during the creative process. Our “Working with Natural Materials” workshop, taught by instructor Luz Mack, inspired Piece by Piece artist John, to create “Milestone” based on his own history. Not only did he enjoy his journey of creating and remembering his past achievements, but he found a new love for stone and natural materials, working with the traditional hammer and hardie, a tool used by ancient mosaic artists. Below is his narrative of the history and process of his work.

 
Artwork by Piece by Piece artist John: “The MILESTONE MOSAIC is a personal tribute to my 70th birthday. The Pyramid is made from preformed parallelogram-shaped stone tiles attached to a cementboard substrate with thin-set. Chocolate ceramic tiles ma…

Artwork by Piece by Piece artist John: “The MILESTONE MOSAIC is a personal tribute to my 70th birthday. The Pyramid is made from preformed parallelogram-shaped stone tiles attached to a cementboard substrate with thin-set. Chocolate ceramic tiles make up the two triangular areas which feature a “7” on the top and a “0” on the lower triangle each chiseled from very brittle, shiny marble stone sections.”

 

JUST AS OVER

Finished. It took a year and a half, but now it’s done. Stick a fork in it! My objective was to employ everything I had learned from the excellent staff at Piece by Piece, along with the experience and accumulation of knowledge I had gained from so many years of life on Earth to create the piece I have named MILESTONE. And suddenly that MILESTONE is in the past. It’s over.

Just as over as the Marathon I had run two days before I posed for the photo in Giza near the mysterious Sphinx and next to the Pyramids.

Just as over as the Peloponnesian War when a foot soldier named Pheidippides had run with reckless abandon from the battlefield of Marathon into the Senate in Athens, held up two fingers, declared, “Nike,” which means “victory” and dropped dead on the spot from exhaustion.

He had been dispatched from the field of battle with orders to instruct the leaders not to burn down the great city they had booby-trapped in dreadful anticipation of a probable final defeat so close to home, assuring that there would be nothing left to plunder by their mortal enemies, the Persians. But the gallant Athenian troops won the battle, and so Pheidippides’ courageous run saved the city.

There are dozens of tribute Marathon races run all over the world these days, each having a distance of roughly twenty-six miles, because that’s how far it is between to those two locations. I somehow managed to survive my four-hour-long dash over the hills and roads that retraced the footsteps of Pheidippides. I remember saying to myself when I crossed the finish line, “Wow, it’s over!”

“In the upper-right hand corner of the piece is a PHOTO covered with textured clear glass. I had just arrived in Cairo from Athens, traveling in celebration of another MILESTONE, my 50th birthday. In the piece, I am drenched in the bright sunshine g…

“In the upper-right hand corner of the piece is a PHOTO covered with textured clear glass. I had just arrived in Cairo from Athens, traveling in celebration of another MILESTONE, my 50th birthday. In the piece, I am drenched in the bright sunshine generated by the highly reflective stained-glass Sun suspended high above a Sky made from fine blue frit.”

Just as over as those days of hallowed antiquity that produced the Pyramids and served as a starting point for the journey illustrated in my personal approach to and passing of the MILESTONE.

No matter who built them, when they were constructed, why they were initiated in the first place, or how they came to be where they are, they exist today as monuments of fantastic achievement. No matter what technology, knowledge, inspiration, creativity or force of nature that might have been necessary to realize

them, from the day they were finished, all of the above then became the past. The dream that led to it all became a reality, and the reality became the past. It was over.

That’s the thing about the past, once anything that takes time, energy, effort, passion, inspiration, talent, tools, assistance, perseverance, knowledge, craftsmanship, or even divine intervention actually happens, is created or realized, it becomes relegated to the world of Déjà vu, Karma, infinity and timelessness, it is over. Just as over as yesterday.

“Hemmed within an Andamento-inspired framework of hand-cut pieces of stone, two stained-glass Camels approach the MILESTONE from opposite directions walking along an ancient road of red brick. The bottom section features white stone block lettering,…

“Hemmed within an Andamento-inspired framework of hand-cut pieces of stone, two stained-glass Camels approach the MILESTONE from opposite directions walking along an ancient road of red brick. The bottom section features white stone block lettering, spelling out the title, against a dark-brown stone block background.”

“A virtual mountain of stone and ceramic encases a photo of artwork originally performed with highly saturated watercolor paint on organic papyrus fabric. Depicted therein is a ‘Cartouche” spelling out my own name in hieroglyphs. This photo is also …

“A virtual mountain of stone and ceramic encases a photo of artwork originally performed with highly saturated watercolor paint on organic papyrus fabric. Depicted therein is a ‘Cartouche” spelling out my own name in hieroglyphs. This photo is also covered by textured clear glass .”

That brings us to the present, the only time we ever really have. In the present we can do, we can be. I am present today, I’m here at Piece by Piece ready for another class, equipped with the many great lessons from the past, cherishing some incredible memories and now-ready, no-eager, to explore the plethora of opportunities presented to us all by the cosmos.

In the now and blessed with the promise of a future, I am so thankful for the past that whenever I die and I myself become the past, just as over as all the millennia, I will have lived a wonderful life. In the meantime I am looking forward toward creating and passing many more MILESTONES.

 
John with Piece by Piece instructors Julie Williams, Bea Jones, Luz Mack and Betty Rosen.

John with Piece by Piece instructors Julie Williams, Bea Jones, Luz Mack and Betty Rosen.

 

You can learn more about John by revisiting his original blog post here.

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