Tileista: Ilana Shafir’s Spontaneous Mosaics

The spontaneous mosaics of Ilana Shafir

The Tileista surveys the spontaneous mosaics of Ilana Shafir.

In this piece on the American Craft Council site, the Tileista looks at the work of artist, Ilana Shafir, to give us a peek on how intimate mosaic art can be. Here’s how the article begins:

“Born in the city of Sarajevo in 1924, now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ilana Shafir knew from an early age she was an artist, though her parents were less than enthusiastic. As Shafir remembers, “In those days to be an artist was not a proper career choice for a woman.” Her studies at the High School for Architecture were disrupted by the Nazi invasion of 1941. Shafir and her family escaped to the small town of Kula, where they miraculously found protection. No one gave them up, not their neighbors, not the Italian nor even the German soldiers. Shafir painted while in hiding, using old book covers for canvases. She painted landscapes and villagers, and traded her paintings for food. Years later she discovered that both the Italian commander and the local priest had dedicated themselves to saving her family. She insists that ‘most people, if given the choice, would choose to be kind and humane.’

“Shafir continued her studies at the Art Academy in Zagreb, Croatia before emigrating in 1949, at the age of 25, to the coastal town of Ashkelon in Israel. She processed the incomprehensible Holocaust and the loss of her extended family with pen and ink, drawing portraits of arriving immigrants. When her sadness was exhausted, Shafir began to explore the beautiful physicality of her new country, both in watercolor and mosaics. The two media are an unlikely pairing. Shafir’s watercolors are ethereal creations of opulent gardens and fantastical creatures. She started with a mono print of abstract stains and drew over the field of colors independent of their abstract shapes until distinct images emerged and every spot of color was defined. It is an unforgiving process that allows no corrections. Shafir credits her years of working in watercolor with providing her the confidence she required to develop her intuitive method of working in mosaic.”

You can see the rest of the post about the spontaneous mosaics of Ilana Shafir on the Craft Council site.