There's a reason so many mosaics remain intact and vibrant thousands of years after their creation--think of the floors unearthed in ancient Rome and Greece. Mosaics can be made as hard and durable as concrete. After all, some of the most common building blocks of mosaics are stone, glass, and cement. Thus, properly designed and created mosaics lend themselves beautifully to installation outdoors.
Step Into the Woods!
This series of six mosaic stepping stones celebrates the incredible importance of trees in our world, but specifically in Medford, Massachusetts. My oversized plaques celebrate trees that are native to our city and important for their many benefits: food, shelter of birds, bugs, and other urban wildlife, the remarkable cooling ability provided by the shade of large trees, and better physical and mental well-being of everyone who interacts with them.
I used stained glass for these stepping stones because of its colorfulness and reflectivity. I hope that people passing by will notice the stones and then raise their heads to appreciate the beauty of the tree canopy above and around them.
The trees: Eastern White Pine American Beech River Birch American Elm Northern Red Oak Red Maple
The original impetus for this project came from Sarah Gerould of Trees Medford, who told me about a project to plant trees all over Medford and invited me to participate in some way. She was so supportive of the idea of a series of stones paying homage to Medford's long legacy of trees. Sarah deserves huge credit for getting me past the idea and on to the actual creating.
The tree varieties I chose to represent were vetted by Medford's wonderful Tree Warden, Aggie Tuden, who provided much time and generosity of spirit. Thank you, Aggie!
Installation of the six stepping stones just off a main path in Tufts Park finally happened in spring 2022, due to the kindness and helpfulness of the Department of Public Works under Director Tim McGivern. Once we had the final go ahead and the weather decided to cooperate, the stones were placed in less than a day. Thanks to everyone at the DPW who so generously helped this project get past the finish line, and to Mayor Brianna Lungo-Kuehn for her wholehearted support.
The Medford Arts Council not only provided critical funding for the project, but was willing to wait an almost unbelievable amount of time for the project to be completed and installed. As was almost everything slated to occur in 2020, the project was delayed time and again. Thanks, MAC, for your patience and generosity to everyone involved in Medford arts during this crazy time.
This program was supported in part by a grant from the Medford Arts Council, a local commission that is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the City of Medford.
Lydia Maria Child was an abolitionist, women's rights activist, novelist, journalist, and Massachusetts resident, who--unlike most women at the time--was famous in her own right in the 1800s. Born Lydia Francis in 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts, she lived there until about age 11, and is supposed to have visited her "Grandfather's House" in the same town. You might know the holiday song "Over the River and Through the Woods" [to Grandfather's House We Go]. Well, the lyrics of that song are taken from a poem that Child wrote in 1844 called "The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day," and "Grandfather's House" is thought to be THIS house (although that's not been proven for absolute sure). The house overlooks the Mystic River--the same river as in the song. The woods, alas, are no more. A few years ago Medford reconfigured an intersection a few houses from Grandfather's House, in an effort to slow down traffic turning onto the street. The new corner now features a garden planted with native grasses and wildflowers. Since the garden is so close to the house of Maria Child's grandparents, it was named in her honor. She was a woman far ahead of her time: strong, confident, articulate, famous, and published under her own name. You can read more about Maria Child on the Medford Historical Society website.
I wanted to create a mosaic piece for the garden to honor Lydia Maria Child. I incorporated a portrait of her as a young woman, a few identifying words, and a graphic based on her own watercolors. Yes, Child was also an accomplished artist, as were most women of her time. The flowers I used as a model appeared inFlowers for Children (1844-1846), which she both wrote and illustrated. The concrete "book" references the many many books that Child wrote during her prolific professional career.the-lydia-maria-child-garden-medford-ma.html.
Unique, impervious to weather, colorful, and affordable! Pieces such as the house number shown at left are commissioned and based upon your wishes.