Another California Dream Becomes Reality!
by Luz Mack-Durini, Los Angeles, CA www.l-durini.com
I grew up in Costa Rica and started experimenting with mosaics at the end of the nineties; at that time mosaics were not popular or even in the radar of the Costa Rican culture. It was obvious that the only way to go about mosaics was a self taught approach. I smile remembering those times of experiments and errors, or when I think of how many annoying questions I asked the grout guys or the hours spent in the hardware store analyzing all the glue labels to find the one that would do the proper job. I can say it was just pure mosaic excitement what carried me over several years of working alone with no information other than my own experience.
In 1999 I received an offer to spend time in the US which became the catalyst of my artistic path: I sold everything and came to California with lots of hopes and dreams. Fortune has always been on my side and soon enough I found SAMA. I became a member and attended my first conference in San Francisco during 2004. I was blown away and overwhelmed by this sudden exposure of gorgeous mosaic art altogether in the same room. I loved the camaraderie of the attendees and how welcoming everyone was no matter if you were a beginner. I was really excited to do my first ‘mosaic brown bag exchange’. I remember standing in front of a huge and striking mosaic from Jennifer Tipton, “Identity”, feeling so full of grateful for having found this organization. It was a dream come true, that through SAMA, a group of people could find a support venue to share, exchange, and become educated in the art of mosaics.
SAMA has been of great importance for my mosaic career. It has connected me with amazing human beings that are not only talented but so giving. Artists that have helped grow my mosaic craft into a professional level All this through valuable information exchange, resources, news, hands-on education and support for both the artist and the medium.
SAMA’s help doesn’t stop there. Throughout the years I observed the growth of mosaic art in public places. I decided it would be a great asset to learn about exterior sculptural fabrication, focused specifically for mosaics. I knew that was a necessary step but I didn’t know how to achieve it. I turned once again to SAMA and found the Robin Brett Scholarship. This is an award that fosters creative development to emerging or established mosaicists that are serious about expanding their knowledge in mosaic art. In 2009, I applied and was given the scholarship and the opportunity to expand once more my professional skills. It all came in perfect timing as in 2011 an opportunity arose to work on a large-scale project with a budget of $85,000 to create a three-dimensional piece of art through the non-profit arts organization Piece by Piece.
Piece by Piece provides free workshops for very low income and formerly homeless participants, providing them with opportunities to learn a skill, gain self-confidence and earn supplemental income. I have been an instructor there for five years and the fabrication of this sculpture was an amazing experience, made possible through the Piece by Piece Artistic Director, the team of teachers, participant artists, volunteers and technical experts. In 2013, our Villas at Gower Public Art Project was installed.
I no longer feel alone in the mosaic world. It has been nearly a decade since my first encounter with SAMA took place. Looking back I remember how wonderful a process it has been and how much I have grown because of the presence and support of my dear mosaic family. I thank SAMA for giving me an opportunity to greatly enhance my mosaic education, for providing me with tools to achieve this growth and to be there supporting so many members from beginners to professionals that strive for excellence.
Luz Mack-Durini is a Southern California artist raised in the small and picturesque country of Costa Rica. Working with mosaics for over a decade, she has traveled to study with several renowned mosaic masters from around the world. She has won several awards for her mosaic art and has been granted several scholarships including; The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, The Touchstone Center for Crafts in Pennsylvania, The Deavy Art Studio in Long Beach and the Robin Brett Scholarship, given by the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring and promoting excellence in fine mosaic art.
Luz works with a variety of materials, including glass, stone, metal leaf and re-purposed hand-made clay objects, incorporating different techniques to achieve unique effects in her work.
Currently, Luz divides her time creating mosaics, continuing her education in the Arts and working as an instructor with Piece by Piece, a Los Angeles non-profit organization that offers mosaic art workshops to inner-city communities.