Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery hosts Jam Side Down, mosaics by Amherst artist Isabel Margolin, November 2nd through 23rd.

Isabel Margolin’s path to mosaics was a result of several paths not taken. Specifically, had her second grade teacher not cited her artwork as a demonstration of how not to draw; had her lack of manual dexterity and 20/20 vision not prevented her from competency in a jewelry course; and had her attempts in pottery not resulted in unintended malformed objects, she might never have signed up for a weekend course in mosaics, where her native inclination for creating patterns with color, texture, and materials found fruition. Add a risk factor — because her mosaics are done in the indirect method — and the synergy between artist and medium is complete.

Isabel creates mosaics via the indirect method: materials are placed face-side-down on sticky paper, then turned over onto a bed of cement. It is through a certain controlled randomness, a willingness to cede expectations to gravitational forces and sticky tape, that she applies the indirect technique to expand the boundaries of this art form. It is a process of chance, choice, and discovery.

Isabel’s mosaics are also available for purchase in our online shop.

About Isabel Margolin:
Isabel has been creating mosaic art since 2009, and exhibiting her work since 2011. Her art has recently shown in juried exhibits at the Society of American Mosaic Artists in San Diego, CA, and Philadelphia, PA; and the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, TX. She currently resides in Amherst, MA. www.isabelmargolinmosaics.com

Q&A with Isabel

What inspires you?
Wallpaper, fabric, sewer covers, fashion, art, marbles, and the list continues. It is inspiring to look at the arts in different cultures and at different times: samplers from the 1800’s, modernist jewelry by Al Smith, ceramic decoration by William Morris, or the dynamic Memphis Movement. Some of these artists were products of their environment, others changed their environment.

Where do you work?
I work in my son’s old bedroom. It can feel fairly cramped with a large bed and five bookcases filled with jars containing glass. Even the cat has trouble navigating the narrow path to my work desk. That said, not having designated studio space has not impeded my work or creativity.

What is your creative process like?
I use a technique called the indirect method. This means that I place pieces of cut glass face-side-down on sticky paper. Because much of the glass I use has a black film on the back, it makes it difficult to figure out the effectiveness of my color choices. It is also difficult to judge whether the pattern is well-executed, or a mish-mash of ideas. Where most artists’ shun the indirect method, and I am sure you understand why, it gives me permission to be daring. In other words, it really ups the learning curve. I usually begin a piece with enthusiasm; but after a few evenings, my initial confidence turns to anxiety. My faith is slightly restored by the end of the process, but I am never really certain whether the piece is a success until the cement has dried and the grout has been applied. When it works, it is magic.

Advice to old artists:
Art, any type of art, enhances your daily life. Just the act of going to a museum makes your world view expand. Don’t let limits like age, race, gender, or class, stop you. Find a medium that inspires you and get to work.