Saturday, May 25, 2019

Artemis - A Mosaic Owl Sculpture

Artemis is a collaborative sculpture between artist Kyle Cunniff and myself. Kyle sculpted the form while I created the custom hand cut stained glass mosaic as well as the custom handmade ceramic tiles to adorn the sculpture.  This 7ft tall mosaic owl is part of the 21st annual Art on the Streets exhibit in Colorado Springs. It is located on 528 S Tejon St at the intersection of Tejon St and E Moreno St. The sculpture will be up for viewing till the end of May 2020. It is for sale via the City of Colorado Springs

Artemis installed in Downtown Colorado Springs
This new sculpture is inspired by the owl's prevalence in pop culture. Owls seem to have burrowed themselves into many aspects of our lives - fashion, design, art etc. These mysterious, nocturnal creatures have captivated the human mind. 


The ornate design on the back of the 3D mosaic sculpture 'Artemis'
As far as design goes, owls are beautiful specimens, adorned in natural patterns of intricate feathers. But their striking, keen eyes may be what enthralls us the most and adds to their wise demeanor. 

The eyes are created with a custom cut stained glass mosaic, a contrast from the handmade ceramic feathers on the owl's head.
These are enigmatic creatures of the night and symbolically they are the keepers of sacred knowledge. They have sparked our curiosity and through it have found their way into our hearts. 

My partner Kyle and our son Ethan with me and Artemis - this was a collaborative sculpture between Kyle and I.
Every time I see an owl - a real one up in a tree or a man made tribute - it is a treat. With this sculpture I wanted to share my love of this enchanted creature. I hope that each passerby that encounters this large mosaiced owl is reminded of the mysteries, the magic and the beauty that comes from nature and that cane come from within us.

As all our collaborative projects, it all begins with a concept and lots of conversations =) 


I created the sketch on the right which I digitally colored in. Then Kyle used my drawing to create the 3d model concept on the left. Looking at these early sketches, we knew this concept had to be realized into a tactile form which Kyle hand sculpted.


In a nutshell, the interior of the sculpture is created from polystyrene, mesh and a form of concrete called 'exterior foam coat'. Lots of work there but there isn't enough room on the blog to share this complex sculpture process. Above is my favorite shot of Kyle doing his thing!



Both Kyle and I have a growing interest in ceramics. For this project I created custom ceramic tiles for a portion of the sculpture. Above you can see some of the color samples I created for my color palette. To the right of those you can see some of the clay tiles in the drying process during the carving/clean-up phase.


The top of Artemis is the section with the majority of the ceramic tiles. That part has a really lovely pattern that will mostly not be seen from street level as the sculpture is 7 feet tall. Above it is seen outside during the loading for transport to Colorado Springs. 



A similar patter is continued from the top of the head down the back of it. 



The rest of the mosaic was created with custom stained glass shapes. Each piece was cut and arranged by me.  


Kyle and I created a map of the owl's form and I sketched a rough outline of my patterns. I worked on top of these rough sketches, hand cutting each shape.



The objective was for the mosaic to resemble more of a hand sketch rather than a refined, neat and cleaned-up rendition of my concept drawing. I wanted the sculpture to feel more organic and hand made rather than a perfectly clean object reminiscent of manufactured forms.


Creating this type of sculpture takes lots of fitting and measuring to make sure that all mosaic sections can fit properly and to wrap around the curves nicely. That is probably the most tedious part of the process and one that is not my favorite. Its like being a glass seamstress of sorts.



Due to the size of the sculpture and the endless fitting and measuring of the form, gluing the mosaic was done in sections. The same was done with grouting.



Artemis weight approximately 300lbs. He is large, awkward to handle sculpture so Kyle designed a special dolly/cart for loading the sculpture for its transport from our Alamosa studio to downtown Colorado Springs, a 3 hour drive through the mountains.



In Colorado Springs we had a crew of city workers and as well as leaders of the Art on the Streets program welcome Artemis and to install him onto his new location in the downtown. 



The above photo was taken during the installation of Artemis whom my son Ethan got to watch come alive in our studio. He inspected the owl the whole way through. As little as he still is, he was excited to see his mosaic friend be outside in a new and fun environment.

Below are a few more photos I took after the installation. I hope that the presence of Artemis in the downtown add a bit of whimsey and fun for the people passing by. If it brings even a fraction of the joy that it has brought to my son, then I could not be happier with what Kyle and I spent months working on.


Peekaboo! I see you ...


I'm coming for you!


I gotcha mommy =)
If you live in Colorado Springs or near by or maybe if you are visiting our beautiful state and you'd like to see this sculpture in person, it is currently located on 528 S Tejon St at the intersection of Tejon St and E Moreno St in front of Atomic Cowboy. If you take some fun pictures and post them on Instagram, tag @KasiaMosaics so I can see them. Knowing that people enjoy public art as much as I do is a driving force in the creation of this kind of work.

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