CERAMICS + MOSAICS
Jeff Spindler was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico and is now a mosaic artist living in southern Oregon. His first exposure to mature art technique was at age twelve during a summer watercolor class at La Sierra University. He has studied drawing at University of California Santa Cruz, ceramics, sculpture at Cerro Coso Community College, and mosaic technique at the Institute of Mosaic Arts in Berkeley. His mosaics are composed of hand-made glazed ceramic tesserae; making these ceramic shapes one by one is part of the mosaic constructive process. His work has been shown in local museums and craft shows in California and Oregon.
I began creating mosaic art for the purpose of decorating homes and gardens. That got me hooked on mosaics, yet I wanted to understand the medium better, exploiting its particular strengths as an art form. I wanted to produce fine art, not just the product of a hobby.
I chose to create my own ceramic tesserae for the control that gave me over size, shape and color. Initially the idea was to create a library of thousands of small ceramic pieces to assemble into larger pictures, like pixels in a digital image. There would be minimal cutting and fitting, very different from traditional mosaic technique. This would greatly speed up the composition and assembly part of the process.
Reconstructivism is a term that fits my process fairly well. Mosaicists essentially break up an image into little bits, making it clear that the art is a fictional construct. The strength of the mosaic art form is that it can have classic or abstract structure when viewed from a distance, the expected broken and artificial texture at normal viewing range, and then a third separate level of detail when seen up close. The individual tesserae each have their own shape and texture, reflectivity and color. Andamento (patterns in the tesserae) and interstitial spaces (grout lines) are be an equally strong force within the mosaic.
I have focused on birds and lizards, creatures which have naturalistic and iconic value. They also happen to have repeating patterns of feather and scale which lend themselves to mosaic. This journey has led me away from the original concept of pixels. Now I create a huge variety of tesserae; I cut and fit far more; my work is becoming much smaller and more detailed. Who knows where this will lead.