SSM Review of SAMA Parthenon Exhibit


by Adrienne Diffin

Lizzie, Dragon of the Courtyard, 2005 by Sherri Warner Hunter (located outside the Nashville Parthenon exterior)

Simply Social Mosaics (SSM) of Knoxville, TN visited the Nashville Parthenon in anticipation of an excellent mosaic demonstration by America’s best artists only to find disappointment. Rather than a diverse selection of mosaic art, the pieces on display were almost all modern contemporary abstract pieces. We can appreciate the style, but would liked to have seen more variety. Well-placed tiles and glass with straight lines and clean edges that many of us mosaic artists strive for in perfecting the art were hard to be found. Glass cut into shards sticking out into jagged edges seemed to be the juried choice.

Many of the pieces also lacked the permanence of a mosaic that some of us have come to love and were not even grouted or sealed. The guard was overheard saying 2 of the pieces on exhibit had already fallen and broken. Part of this was also probably due to the lack of care the Parthenon took to protect the art. SAMA charged individual SAMA members $150 to include a non-juried 6×6 tile sized mosaic on exhibit at the Parthenon none of which had any level of protection other than the SAMA frame kit that was provided to the artists. Only 2 pieces in the entire juried exhibit were encased in glass, with no explanation as to why those two were in glass other than they were valued at a higher price than those that were on the wall. Although it would be really cool to have art displayed at the Parthenon and you might gain some artist recognition for the exhibit it doesn’t seem like the risk to the livelihood of the art would be worth it. Added ropes placed at waist level to maintain distance would have helped to keep the art at a safer distance from pedestrian traffic.

Even though we were saddened by the lack of variety in mosaic artistic style and the poor security of the art displayed, there were still a few pieces of art on the walls that made the trip to Nashville worthwhile. Of course, art touches us all in different ways and even the pieces with the most crooked lines can affect individuals sentimentally. See below for some of our personal favorites.

We at SSM can agree with SAMA jurors that the Contemporary Innovation Award of 2019 that went to artist Mia Tavonatti was well deserved. The combination of glass and Smalti, the oceanic color schemes, material placement, and the translucent appearance of a wave combined originality and what looked like a human heart to form the piece “Origin.” We agree this piece was stunning and worth going to see in person.

“Origin” by Mia Tavonatti, California

And here are some of our other favorites that didn’t receive awards, but we believe are modern American mosaic artists to like and follow:

“Myanmar Hill Tribe Girl” by Mary Driver, Oregon
“Whirling Dervish” by Lenni Gilbert, Illinois
“Tongue and Cheek” by Pauline Mills, Texas
“Dead Keys” by Monique Sarfity, New Jersey
“Poseidon’s Dream” by Julie Mazzoni, Georgia

Other SAMA artists on display that we think are notable captions with artist names can be seen upon hovering over the image:

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And don’t forget to like and follow the artists of SSM. We believe that mosaic quality matters. We believe in Straight lines, clean art, and solid lasting pieces. We believe in making mosaic and stained glass art that is functional and beautiful. Our art can be seen on Facebook, ETSY and in the Shop Gallery on our website

SSM is a small community mosaic center in the heart of downtown Knoxville, TN. We support community mosaic education and the beautification of public spaces. We are working to add mosaics to the city of Knoxville so that they can be admired by residents and visitors of our beautiful city for years to come.

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