It seems like yesterday I was attending one of Bonnie Fitzgerald’s classes at Touchstone Center for Crafts in Virginia. It is to this day one of my favorite mosaic memories, as well as a life-changing encounter! Bonnie’s love of mosaic art, her joy of teaching it, and the enthusiasm she brings to her classes could not have been explained, I had to experience it. I am sure many of you who have taken a class of Bonnie’s know exactly what I am talking about.
Inspirational, motivating, and empowering are the top three words I would choose to describe Bonnie. Not just Bonnie herself, but also what she brings to the world of mosaics. Many people speak of the mosaic community being such caring and giving folks, and Bonnie Fitzgerald embodies that sentiment. Bonnie is in constant motion while teaching and sharing her love of the mosaic art form. She does not hoard her knowledge or experience, but excitedly willing to share with her students that they too may learn and love creating mosaics.
I think you will find something special in taking a class from Bonnie. Perhaps a new found technique, a refreshing perspective in approach, or a facet to the business of mosaics will remain with you for the rest of your own mosaic career, whether you are a hobbyist or professional artist. You may think I sound like a big supporter of Bonnie, but I am not… I am more than that…I am a raving fan!
I hope you enjoy getting to know a little more about Bonnie, but even more so, I hope you give yourself the gift of taking one of her classes, because that is where she really shines! Enjoy!
Heavenly Waters by Bonnie Fitzgerald
“Art Icons” Drew Model School, Arlington, VA by Bonnie Fitzgerald
LMA: How did you get started in mosaics?
Bonnie: I attended a liberal arts college in South Florida where I found my way to the ceramic and sculpture studio. The professor I studied with made architectural art, including large-scale mosaics. I was introduced to mosaics during that time. My first commission was while I was still a student.
LMA: Could you share with our readers your history of involvement with mosaics?
Bonnie: I was making mosaics in a vacuum… then the Internet came along. There was a call for volunteers. The SAMA conference was coming to my town, Washington, DC, and they needed help.
To this day, I have friends who I met as a consequence of that volunteer call. I remember walking into the exhibition and seeing all that amazing mosaic art work in one place and my heart skipped a beat. I fell in love. The short story, I went on to become a Board member and have attended more conferences than not. The gifts of SAMA are priceless. I have crossed paths with countless mentors, learned the art and craft of mosaic from some of the greatest artists of the medium, and as a consequence of that first meeting built a business making and teaching mosaics. Saying “yes” to that initial volunteer opportunity changed my life.
Serving as a Board member, my learning of the art form was accelerated. JeanAnn Dabb, a charter SAMA member, enlightened me to the historical context of mosaic. She actually taught mosaics at a university! As the child of factory workers in Philadelphia I had no knowledge of the European tradition of mosaic making, much less did I understand mosaics graced almost every corner of the world in one form or another. In just a few years I met mosaic art icons I admired and I had only read about: Ilana Shafir, Sonia King, George Fishman, Laurel Skye.
I met true lovers of mosaic art, folks who have carried the art form of mosaic to exciting places and shared their knowledge. Bill Buckingham, the creator of Mosaic Art Now magazines introduced me to a book publisher; that singular opportunity, which eventually led to two book deals, altered the direction of my mosaic life.
I teach, I travel and I make what I see as beautiful art. I am filled with gratitude.
Katina’s, Hacienda Mosaico, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico by Bonnie Fitzgerald
LMA: What is your favorite thing about working in the field of mosaics on a day-to-day basis and why?
Bonnie: The Tribe is filled with talented, generous people.
LMA: I know you travel the globe and take others on journeys with you. Where is your favorite place to travel?
Bonnie: I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel extensively and share my love of art. Where ever I was last is my favorite. Every place I have traveled has provided some remarkable and treasured memory. I was just in Ireland and still savor the butter and beer and the beautiful people.
Palmer Park Community Center, Lanham, MD, winner 2017 Mosaic Arts International Site-Specific, Juror’s Choice
Irish Rock People, by Bonnie Fitzgerald
LMA: What are some of your favorite, “Must see” mosaic locations?
Bonnie: The Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, Park Guell in Barcelona, San Vitale and the Contemporary Mosaic Museum in Ravenna, Italy, The Mosaic House in Chartres, France, Niki de St. Phalle Tarot Garden, Tuscany and Rachel Sager’s “Ruins” in Pennsylvania.
Tres Amigos by Bonnie Fitzgerald
LMA: Tell us about your single greatest mosaic moment:
Bonnie: I taught a mosaic workshop in Charters, France, in a private fabrication studio, an absolute “pinch me moment.” I was leading a tour to France and with my “travelers” we made souvenir mosaics.
Mosaic workshop in France with Bonnie Fitzgerald
LMA: Do you support any charitable causes? Which ones and why?
Bonnie: SAMA, Society of American Mosaic Arts, because mosaics have given me a wonderful life and countless opportunities.
Capitol care and Life with Cancer, because the supported my family during a very difficult time.
Twinless Twins, because they helped a family member weather a devastating loss.
Go Fund Me / Laurel Skye, because Laurel is one of my Rock Stars.
LMA: If you could give readers one single piece of advice, what would it be?
Bonnie: Mosaics take time, do the work and enjoy the journey.
Ocean Trash by Bonnie Fitzgerald