I would tell you this interview is going to be good, but it is not… Instead it is going to be all Goode!!! This month I have the privilege of introducing you to mosaic artist Pam Goode. First I must tell you, I met Pam years ago when I lived in Summerville, South Carolina. Pam is the founder of Ciel Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I took my first ever mosaic class. At the time I owned Tiny Tile Mosaics, and was considering get even more involved with mosaic art and different materials, so I signed up to take Carol Shelkin’s class at Ciel. The class was held over the course of a few days at Pam’s home. It was an experience that would solidify my love for this art form, and alter the course my own life would take forever.
Many folks do not know that Pam is 75% deaf. Many believe that when one of our five senses is at a deficit, it actually heightens the awareness of our other four. It makes me think that this could very well be when viewing Pam’s work. Pam’s use of color and texture, (sight and touch), are at a heightened level compared to many other artists, and convey emotion and energy with out a single word.
I am going to let you enjoy Pam’s answers to the questions posed to her for this interview before I continue, so you can have a bit of insight to what more I share about Pam. So without further ado…
LMA: Did you always want to be an artist?
Pam: No! My first loves were dance and writing. As the daughter of an architect, I grew up with a deep love of design, symmetry, asymmetry, possibility and pushing boundaries, and I’ve held close to these in all my pursuits. But everyone in my family was an artist, and I didn’t feel I had the same natural talent. It didn’t spill out of me the way movement and words did, so I was a late arrival.
LMA: How long have you been creating mosaic art?
Pam: Since 1999!
LMA: How did you get started in mosaics?
Pam: I made my first mosaic from a pattern in a book after a trip to Costa Rica. It was a gecko and I made it for my brother and sister-in-law as a reminder of the trip. I had glass left over and started immediately on a new piece and realized I couldn’t stop. Hours and hours and hours would go by and the cutting and fitting enthralled me. It took me to a different place, and I loved being there. In the back of my mind, I think I knew this would be the case. As a teenager, something hit me hard when I first saw images of the Watts Towers. I was similarly struck by (don’t laugh) an episode of Kung Fu that featured a dotty older man who was always collecting glittery bits off the street and secreting them into his pockets. One day David Carradine followed him home and discovered a magnificent temple covered in the bits of detritus, glittering madly in the sunlight. I wanted to transform the planet in just these ways — visual temples to the soul.
LMA: Do you practice any other art forms on a regular basis or have a hobby when not making mosaics?
Pam: I still write when I can, but it takes a fairly complete removal from my everyday-ness for my spirit to open enough. This is one of the main reasons I travel. There’s something about being completely separated from your usual surroundings and everyday tasks that opens your mind and spirit. I see everything differently, feel everything differently, and experience such a tremendous opportunity to release myself from the person I think I am. To me, this is imperative for everyone — to find the thing that frees you, because we put such tight limits on ourselves! When I travel I try new things, like zip lining or octopus or talking easily with strangers, and it’s a recurring reminder that most of my limits are self-imposed. It’s very freeing. If you haven’t noticed :) — I have a relentless philosophical bent, and it makes its way into every facet of my life and art.
LMA: Who would you consider your biggest supporter/fan?
Pam: Without a doubt the online mosaic community, and I’d say pretty much across the board as a whole. They’re the ones who understand what we do, and in many cases, the ones who got me over those beginning hurdles.
LMA: What is your least favorite thing about mosaics and why?
Pam: Honestly, I hate grout. Yes there are times when it really enhances a mosaic, but in general I prefer to keep the vibrant colors as pure as possible.
LMA: Tell us a little about your studio and attach a photo or 2 of your studio space:
Pam: My studio space is in our main living area — the room with the most light and where everyone gathers. It isn’t an ideal situation, but it’s big enough for all of us and we like to be together. I have two worktables and a wall of storage for the supplies I use most often, and the rest live on shelving in the garage. I’m a magpie and I really enjoy working with most materials, so everything just keeps growing. One worktable is a pretty, little, French- inspired table with a green top that I bought at a yard sale — totally impractical and I keep it covered with a large piece of cardboard. The other is a barn-red library table that I picked up for $10 in Georgetown, South Carolina. I raised my kids there, so it has a lot of sentimental value.
LMA: What is one of your favorite quotes or sayings and what does it mean to you?
Pam: My favorite quote is, like its author, a little twisted and hard to grasp.
“At last, this will be my chance to know if I am who I think I am, or if I only hope; if I’m going to do what I know is right, or if I’m only going to wish I were.”
Written by William Faulkner and spoken by Quentin Compson in Absalom! Absalom!, my favorite book. The words grabbed me immediately because don’t we all feel that way at times? As humans, we want to rise to every occasion and respond ethically and with love. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. Again, very human, but when I’m faced with difficult situations, this has become my go-to stance.
LMA: Tell us about your single greatest mosaic moment.
Pam: I don’t remember the year, but Emma Biggs was the keynote speaker at SAMA. I don’t often attend talks, because I’m 75% deaf and most of the words are lost on me. But Emma, ever impassioned, ended her talk on the elevation of mosaic as an art form by imploring, “Don’t just make a teddy bear.” Somehow I heard her and it made a huge impression on me, not because there’s anything wrong with teddy bears, but because as humans with finite lives we have a limited and critical opportunity to touch others and spin the wheels of the world through art. I’ve been touched over and over by achingly beautiful art, but there are moments and artworks that speak deeply and flat out change me in an instant. That’s the artist I want to be. It may be a tiny change, but that’s okay. That’s the way all change starts.
LMA: If you could take one class from one mosaic artist right now (whether they teach or not), whom would it be with?
Pam: Mireille Swinnen, Nathalie Vin, Rachel Bremner, and Rachel Sager!
LMA: What would you say/suggest/impress upon people who are new to mosaics?
Pam: First of all, go for it, have fun, but do your homework — use sound practices and keep reaching higher.
LMA: List 3 things you are grateful for today.
Pam: Love, Health, and a Broad Vision
As you can tell from Pam’s own words, she not only creates art with tessera, but with words as well. To me Pam is someone to aspire to be like. Courageous, talented, giving, honest, introspective, and a world traveler, Pam gets out of her comfort zone on a regular basis and she experiences life rather than simply living it. Where there is no path to journey upon, she creates one…I perceive Pam as an optimistic trailblazer and a gift to mosaic art. She has an incredible ability to “be”, and if you have ever had the opportunity to stand next to her, you know exactly what I am talking about!
Take the time today to do something different…Get out of your mosaic comfort zone, and experiment a little. Check out more of Pam’s works at her website and soak in the positive and playful vibes! You just may find yourself agreeing with me when I say, “Pam needs to change her last name to Great!”