Over 150 Hillsborough community members turned broken pottery and bottle caps into mosaics this summer as part of the #LoveHillsborough Community Art Project.
The project, a public mural combining independent mosaics made from a variety of materials, is being prepared for display by Carlos González García, a mosaicist new to the area.
The mural will be installed on the westward facing wall on the ground floor of the Eno River Public Parking Deck in downtown Hillsborough.
The #LoveHillsborough collaboration between García and the Orange County Arts Commission developed after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted García’s plans to open the area’s first professional mosaic school in Eno Mill, called NCMOSAICS.
“Carlos had just moved here and was trying to find a space to start his mosaic school,” said Katie Murray, director of the Orange County Arts Commission. “We just kind of connected. It's really rare — not a lot of artists work in mosaic, and very few mosaic artists have actually had the training that he has.”
García, a graduate of Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli (The Mosaic School of Friuli) in Spilimbergo, Italy, holds a master’s degree in mosaics.
“COVID-19 happened, so (the school) got put on hold, and we were kind of like ‘Well, what do we do now?’” Murray said. “He was talking about making a video to show people how to make a small mosaic, and I said ‘Why don't we take these small mosaics and install them?'”
The #LoveHillsborough mosaics had only one thematic requirement: each piece must include a heart.
“I think the theme of love — that's what we need these days: more love and less hate,” García said. “There’s just so many different people that can express themselves with their designs. It’s like a language by itself. I want it read as like a unit, like a universal language that everybody is part of.”
The symbol of a heart also proved most accessible to community members, García said, explaining that he wanted a community project in which everyone, even people new to mosaic art, could participate.
The project also drew some established local artists, like ceramic sculptor Tinka Jordy, who has worked as a professional artist for over 40 years. Jordy said she was asked by the Arts Commission to contribute a letter – the “G” in Hillsborough – to the project.
Using her expertise as a clay artist, Jordy used broken clay materials to craft her component of the mosaic.
“It's just upbeat,” she said of the project. “I think we need anything and everything that's community-oriented, where we can feel connected.”
Murray said the letters #LoveHillsborough will be displayed among the heart mosaics, and were largely done by elected officials, longtime town and county workers and local artists like Jordy.
While García still plans to open his school in the coming years, he hopes that his studio space in Eno Mill can be used for mosaic classes in the meantime. Right now, though, he is busy grouting the mosaics for installation in downtown Hillsborough, which he hopes to complete by mid-October.
“I'm grouting each of them in different colors,” he said. “I could have done one color and been fast about it – but it's my first mural, so I wanted it to look cool and different – I wanted to take my time with it.”
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