Staying ‘True’ to a cause: Laurel True presents community mosaics

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Laurel True working with youth, ACFFC, Jacmel, Haiti
  • Laurel True working with youth, ACFFC, Jacmel, Haiti

Though many may take a mosaic art class as something fun to do occasionally, Laurel True has turned a hobby into a legacy. As an artist and educator specializing in mixed media, glass and ceramic mosaic and public art, True has facilitated mosaic projects all over the world for almost 20 years. She will be showcasing her work in a presentation this Friday, June 10 as she displays projects from New Orleans, West Africa, East Africa and Kenya, Haiti and more.

Creative Loafing: What first fueled your love for art and how did that develop into a passion for creating mosaics?

Laurel True: I think my love for art was just there from the very beginning. I was just always a very artistic, crafty kid. I was studying textiles and working with fabric when I saw the work of a man named Isaiah Zagar in Philadelphia in 1991. It was all what you would consider folk art or outsider art and architectural mosaics, and it was beautiful. I ended up writing Isaiah Zagar a letter and asking him if I could be his apprentice so I could earn how to do what he did, which I did do and I’ve been doing it ever since.

What projects will you be showcasing at the Ciel Gallery and how would you describe your presentation?

It’s packed full of inspiration. It’s not a teaching lecture; it’s more of an inspirational kind of presentation, and I want to show people how art can impact communities. There have been really wonderful community impacts after projects that have been created in parks, and there have been entrepreneurships, job training, art development, art education, neighborhood beautification and more (as a result of the projects). There are a lot of things that go into it. I think that when people think about art education, they mainly think about kids art classes in school, but it’s so broad and doesn’t have to be just for kids and doesn’t have to be just in the classroom. I think that’s one of the things that I try to highlight in the lecture as well.

You’ve traveled all over the world creating mosaics, doing international projects and teaching others how to create them. What was your most memorable experience?

I’ve been working in Haiti for the last year now, and that’s a place that’s really close to my heart. I have now started this project where I’m going to train a team of Haitians to create a giant mural in a new hospital, so it’s really exciting to be able to teach people skills that could be economically viable for one thing. Also, in areas that have so many sad things and problems like this massive earthquake that devastated the country, doing mosaic work is an actual metaphor for putting the pieces back together. It can be a very meditative process, and I think there’s something special about working with communities that are dealing with crisis in that it kind of makes an even deeper impact sometimes.

What thoughts do you hope your audience will walk away with after your presentation?

I hope that they will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of public art and community-based art and the impact that public art can have on the communities where it’s sited. Of course, I want people to be inspired also. The lecture and presentation is a fundraiser for the next project that I’ll be doing in Haiti, and so I hope people’s inspiration will translate into potential support for the project, but I want people to come away thinking art is really important and it really does impact people. Art and healing go hand in hand. Art has a universal effect on people, so I hope people will be inspired.

Laurel True will present her artwork Friday June 10 at the Ciel Gallery on 1519 Camden Road from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call Pamela Goode at 704-577-1254 or go to www.cielcharlotte.com

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