I’ve always been quite fascinated with Ilona and her work and I was excited that she agreed to be a part of this series. I’m deviating from the norm this time around – here’s her story, in her own words…
Although I used to do a lot of drawing as a child, I did not consider myself an artist for most of my adult life; periodically I would dabble in some art form or another, usually ceramics and photography, while working in various professions…I won’t bore you with the list! I was drawn to art but was also a bit apprehensive about pursuing it – in fact, about 10 years ago one of my photography instructors pulled me aside and said, “I think you really want to be an artist.” I felt as if he had revealed some deep secret and
although I did not pursue photography as an art form his words stayed with me.
Fast forward to 2001 when I was working as a management consultant and traveling a lot. When 9/11 happened I really woke up to the fact that life is short and that I no longer wanted to be doing a stressful job that I did not enjoy. To quell my anxiety about the future I started designing jewelry and months later worked up the nerve to resign and start a jewelry design business. I loved combining color, shape and texture in my jewelry and finding new materials to use, but after awhile I felt limited by the jewelry format as a means of self-expression. I wanted to work with color, shape and pattern on a larger scale and to create fine art. Although I had taken a few painting classes over the years, the medium did not grab me. Mosaics seemed like the natural next step in my creative path, allowing me to continue working with my hands and with a wide variety of tesserae – beads, ceramic, glass, stone and more.
I took my first mosaic class in 2006 in a community education program – the instructor showed us how to cut and what adhesive to use, and that was about it. Not completely satisfied, I decided to study with the experts and in the spring of 2007 went to the Mosaic School in Ravenna, Italy. There I was very surprised to discover that even I could cut teeny tiny pieces with a hammer and hardie! When I returned to the US I saw a call for an all-mosaic exhibit in the Boston area, where I was living at the time. Back then I had only made a handful of mosaics and two were accepted. I was thrilled! One of them sold after the show ended. That helped me take my mosaic making a bit more seriously. And having one of my pieces published in Brit Hammer’s “Mosaic: Finding Your Own Voice” inspired me to keep going, as have all the many wonderful mosaic artists I’ve met at SAMA conferences and online. I really enjoy using an ancient medium to express contemporary themes and being part of an international community of artists; I’ve traveled to two dozen countries and lived overseas a few times – in Hungary, Ecuador, and Mexico – and so I welcome any mosaic-related opportunity to get on an airplane.
About a year ago I thought about relocating to Colorado where I could pursue another passion: hiking. The “Art Gods” were on my side – I found a terrific studio in an artist building during one of my exploratory trips to Denver. So I packed up and moved here. Being outdoors in stunning scenery helps me recharge and gives me ideas for mosaics. Some of my abstract pieces are inspired by mountains and how I feel when I’m at high altitude – completely at peace with myself and deeply connected to the world. Sometimes I am able to experience that same feeling when I am deeply engrossed in making a mosaic. Life doesn’t get much better than that!
Just love this portrait, everything about it is so great!
Finally meet Ilona –