Connecting Places: A Glass Mosaic Fireplace Commission

I'm working on one of my biggest--and possibly most challenging--commissions to date.

The project: a floor-to-ceiling glass mosaic element (16" wide) offset behind a woodburning stove. One wall of the room is all windows overlooking the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada. It's an extraordinarily beautiful landscape with constantly shifting weather patterns sweeping in off the Bay of Fundy or across the island from the Atlantic. The home is built on a mountain and is high enough that the valley literally disappears into the mist when the fog or rainclouds roll in. As the clouds lift this ridiculously beautiful valley is revealed stretching for 20+ miles to the next ridge.

I want the piece to connect to this amazing landscape: the intense greens of lush growth, copper of the iron-rich earth and the blues of water and sky as well as this constant visual phenomena of emerging and disappearing and re-emerging.

I also want the piece to connect with the prairie landscape where my clients--and I--are originally from.

My clients: my parents. These uber-patrons (and parents), have given me full artistic autonomy for this project. I am to make what I want. And, so with that freedom comes great responsibility. Ack! This has to be a fabulous piece that coheres visually and psychologically.

I have decided to use the outline of the tiny, oxbowed, shallow river that flows past our farm in eastern Alberta as the central form in the piece. This form is gorgeous and irregular and constantly changing albeit imperceptibly. I am always aware of change as the only constant. It also points to the notion of being shaped by place. There is inevitable evolution out from a given place: the original form is clearly imprinted but also changing across time, as the river form itself has been changing and evolving over the eons.