Mosaic Artist

Why did you choose to come to Piece by Piece?
I was in a domestic violence situation. I have low vision from a traumatic Brain Injury and I've been homeless, staying in my car at the VA. Piece by Piece comes to the VA on Fridays. For a few months I didn't think I could go to the classes because of my low self-esteem. Eventually after a lot of encouragement from my counselors, I thought - what have I got to lose? My mom's done stained glass, I did it in the 90s, so I got up the courage to try it.

When did you first come to Piece by Piece?
October of 2023

How did you first hear about Piece by Piece?
My counselors at the VA talked to me about going to the classes. They really encouraged me to go, and then I went and brought my mom with me.

Where are you originally from and where do you live now?
I am originally from Culver City, California, and am currently in West LA.

Tell us about past work/school or other meaningful experiences.
I was a real tomboy, and spent a lot of time with my dad. We would race cars and motorcycles, which was fun. My dad was a disabled veteran and my mom worked to support us so I always helped take care of my dad.

How have you grown as a person and artist since joining Piece by Piece?
My self-esteem has really improved. I still doubt myself sometimes, I'll go to Dawn or Bea and ask about colors and shapes in my mosaic because I still don't think that I've done it right. But you know, we have so many positives here it’s wonderful. I'm so used to people being negative that it's really hard to accept the positive sometimes, but I'm getting there and it's very, very positive and welcoming at Piece by Piece. We all help each other and in the process gain confidence. It's helped me and my mom, Joann (who also takes classes at Piece by Piece) tremendously. In the workshops, I am learning essential life skills like breathing, taking my time, and recognizing my self-worth. I'm learning to be me, that I have an opinion that matters. That I can pick the colors I want. I can pick the design I want.

What is something you are proud of?
Coming here and learning to be me. I am free to share my opinion. The instructors, they ask questions, and I can answer without being judged. And if I get it wrong, that's ok. Its an opportunity to learn. You don't get called negative names.

Who inspires you?
My domestic violence counselor and TBI counselor at the VA, both are awesome!

What project have you enjoyed most? And why?
I liked learning to use beads, and now we're learning to use rocks in our mosaics. Recently we learned about the history of mosaics and that it was one of the first forms of art along with face painting.

What are you most proud of from your PxP time so far?
That I keep coming back! I had one project where the pieces wouldn't stay on my board, and all day they kept popping off. Fellow artist June thought it was funny, but she was adamant that I keep at it. I didn't give up. I have that now and I never had that before.

Anything else about you that you want to share?
I just think it's a great program. It's helped me tremendously to learn about me. I loved coming with my mom, we’ve gotten closer and we have something we do together. Bea, Wendy and Dawn are awesome, and they build up my self esteem. All the mosaics that we do here at Piece by Piece are just awesome. We are like one big family and that's great. Everyone's supportive, even when we have problems. No one judges. We don't get put down. I'm so used to being put down because of the domestic violence in my past. It's nice to feel safe. I know I'm safe. I'm learning and gaining confidence thanks to Piece by Piece.