The 14th Annual Mosaic Arts International exhibition (MAI), sponsored by the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA), is a creative, innovative, and diverse collection that offers a unique and compelling view of mosaic art in the twenty-first century. The selected works reflect the multiplicity of the mosaic medium and its unlimited applications. But regardless of the style, colors, textures, materials, or vision, each of the works exhibited speaks an ancient language with a contemporary translation. The 2015 exhibition is comprised of two segments, presented in two of the most highly-regarded galleries in the Philadelphia area.

The Masters Invitational Exhibition will be presented at The Clay Studio, March 12 – April 19, 2015.

The Members Juried Exhibition will be presented at Painted Bride Art Center, March 12 – April 25, 2015.

In conjunction with the 2015 American Mosaic Summit, SAMA will host Gallery Night, Thursday, March 12, 2015 from 5:00pm – 9:00pm at Philadelphia City Hall Gallery, The Clay Studio, Painted Bride Art Center, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.  

For the third year since the addition of an invitational segment to Mosaic Arts International, the 2015 Masters Invitational Exhibition presents works from four internationally-recognized mosaic masters: Elaine M. Goodwin of London, England; Karen Ami of Chicago, Illinois; Carrie Reichardt of London, England; and the late Ilana Shafir of Ashkelon, Israel. Honoring The Clay Studio’s long history as a ceramic art institution, the SAMA Exhibitions Committee chose to present the work of these four impeccable artists whose exceptional use of ceramic material create a bridge between ceramic art and mosaic art practices, hopefully sparking a dialog that fosters continued inspiration and collaboration between the two communities.

Click on image to begin 2015 Masters Invitational Gallery Slideshow

The Members Juried Exhibition celebrates the best of SAMA’s vibrant membership. Jacki Gran, SAMA President and Exhibitions Committee Chair, is thrilled with the selections of the jurors—George Fishman of Miami Beach, FL; and Sophie Drouin of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.  “George Fishman and Sophie Drouin were the exceptional jurors who carefully and conscientiously reviewed the many entries submitted in a collaborative process, examining each entry to identify work that was original, fresh, distinctive, and technically excellent. We expect their selections will broaden the understanding of mosaic art to the hundreds of visitors expected at Painted Bride Art Center during the exhibition.” she said.

The jurors shared this joint statement on the collaborative approach they took toward the jury process this year: “A jurying process shares elements with a beauty contest, a wine tasting, and a factory parts inspection. Some criteria are quite specific, even technical; some are subjective; most lie in between. In reviewing submissions for the 2015 MAI exhibition, we responded deliberatively to each artwork in its own terms, while also curating an exhibition (and catalog) that would inspire and instruct. We imagined specific works providing teaching moments by their juxtapositions.”

They went on to reveal, “We grappled with evaluating such qualities as whimsy, poetry, daring, and restraint (great fun, especially when we initially disagreed!). But these are all words, whereas mosaics speak a non-verbal language. So, we also listened to the work. Ultimately, we came to consensus on both the exhibition and prizewinners. That satisfaction is only tempered by the space limitation, which required us to regretfully exclude numerous other fine submissions.”  Once the final field was chosen, they selected 4 works of substantial merit to award SAMA’s 2015 Mosaic Arts International prizes.


The 2015 Best In Show Award goes to Heart, by Eileen Gay of Sparks, NV.

Eileen Gay

2015 Mosaic Arts International Best In Show
Eileen Gay
Sparks, NV
H 12.00’ W 4.00’ D 3.00’
Location: Mountain Shadows Park, Colorado Springs, CO USA
EPS armature, acrylic cement, fiberglass cement substrate, glazed porcelain floor, pool tile, brass keys, glass bits, dalle de verre glass windows

“This striking mosaic stands out thanks to the very contemporary forms of its two main pillars, as well as the negative space created between them. The expert use of materials, varied techniques, and andamenti is masterfully adapted to maximize the visual and emotional impact of its surfaces and base. The result is a harmonious, striking, and haunting ensemble that is uniquely suited to the environment it inhabits.”


The 2015 Award for Technical Distinction was awarded to The Storm, by Nermine Elmasry of Zamalek, Egypt.

Nermine Elmasry

2015 Technical Distinction Award
The Storm
Nermine Elmasry
Zamalek, Egypt
H 76.50cm W 108.00cm D 5.50cm
Marble, glass, artificial cubes, molted glass gems

Once again in a joint statement, the jurors noted, “This mosaic combines beautiful andamento, colour and form to depict a very pleasing organically-inspired abstract composition. The combination of quietly-traditional with more attention-seeking shapes in the andamenti lines is wonderfully realized, and the colour values have been chosen to striking effect by their contrast as well as their hue.”  The Technical Distinction Award is for the work that exemplifies excellence in the methods, materials, and execution of traditional mosaic making.


The 2015 Award for Contemporary Innovation went to Escarpment, by Kelley Knickerbocker of Seattle, WA.

Kelley Knickerbocker

2015 Contemporary Innovation Award
Kelley Knickerbocker
Seattle, WA
H 18.00” W 29.00” D 1.50”
Granite, stones, smalti, glass beads, stained glass, fiberglass mesh strands, cement, pigment

This truly contemporary work pushes the envelope in many pleasing and unique ways. The inclusion of thin rounded white objects interspersed with white smalti, combined with the layout of natural pebbles, is very well balanced, achieving an impression of lightness and floating. The rare inclusion of cleaved dark granite provides some grittiness, balanced by the transition at the top to negative space through the delicate filaments and beads that bring a whimsical touch to the entire piece. The innovative use of cracked, disc-shaped tesserae within the andamento texture provides an extra layer of interest.  The Contemporary Innovation Award is for the work that best encourages experimentation and challenges the definition of mosaic art.


George Fishman’s Juror’s Award went to A Prayer for Earth, by Scott Fitzwater of Portland, OR.

Scott Fitzwater

2015 Jurors Choice: George Fishman
A Prayer for Earth
Scott Fitzwater
Portland, OR
H 18.25” W 23.50” D 0.50” Thinset, tusk shells, slate

“It’s restrained, but inventive and eloquent. Despite the busyness of its andamento, it evokes a tranquil mood, appropriate for these restless times. The uniformity of the linear andamento of tusk shells is offset by subtly-contrasting systems of organization that distinguish sky, mountain, and foreground—and by the interjection of large pieces of light-colored shaped slate. The artist has achieved a fine balance between representation and abstraction,” commented George Fishman.


Sophie Drouin’s Juror’s Award went to Wanda, by Michael Kruzich of San Francisco, CA.

Michael Kruzich

2015 Jurors Choice: Sophie Drouin
Michael Kruzich San Francisco, CA
H 4.00” W 3.00” D 0.02” Stone, smalti, tinted Q-Tips

“There are many reasons why I think Wanda deserves an award. The impressive technique evident in this portrait allows the personality of the subject to shine through very clearly, and while that is an achievement in any art medium, it is especially so in mosaic, where the image is fragmented by definition. The andamento in this portrait is exemplary and rigorous, and the shading is bold and deliberate—balancing dramatic lighting with the human warmth of the subject,” shared Sophie Drouin.


About SAMA

The Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and promoting excellence in the mosaic arts. To achieve this mission, SAMA organizes programs, events, and activities designed to:

• Attract and retain members who value excellence in mosaics;
• Educate both the art community and the public regarding contemporary and classical mosaic arts;
• Provide opportunities for unlimited creative and professional growth;
• Foster and sustain a mosaic community where members are encouraged to explore the full potential of the art form.

SAMA was founded in 1999 by a small group of mosaic artists who wanted a venue through which they could share their knowledge, expertise, and interest in mosaic art—this most ancient of art forms that was experiencing a
significant contemporary revival.

Today, fifteen years later, we remain a vibrant and ever-expanding group of more than 900 members, including mosaic artists at all levels, mosaic aficionados, collectors, materials suppliers, and art educators. We have put renewed emphasis on strengthening ties with other mosaic organizations around the globe to pursue common goals and developing new programs relevant to our diverse membership.

About the Clay Studio

The Clay Studio is a nonprofit educational institution, gallery, and studio dedicated to teaching, creating, supporting and promoting the ceramic arts. Since 1974, The Clay Studio has hosted and exhibited world-class ceramic artists, and brought the joy of clay to thousands of children, students, artists, and enthusiasts throughout the Philadelphia region. Both a community center and an arts institution of international stature, The Clay Studio seeks to make art accessible through the tactile medium of clay.  137-139 N 2nd Street, Philadelphia PA 19106.

About Painted Bride Art Center

Painted Bride Art Center brings together artists, audiences and communities to push the boundaries of how we create and experience art. We cultivate an environment for critical dialog and playful exchange to transform lives and communities. Now celebrating 46 years as a pioneering presenter of performing and visual art, the Bride remains focused on offering independent artists from Philadelphia and abroad the support needed to bring their creative works to fruition.   230 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Click on image to begin 2015 Members Juried Exhibition Gallery Slideshow