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LES BAIGNEUSES (The Bathers) – Mosaic Sculpture by Beverly Moreland

2020 was a year of profound social disarray, with COVID-19 shutting down businesses, dissolving work schedules, and leaving many struggling simply to keep track of what day it was. For Seattle-based artist, Beverly Moreland, the pandemic provided a slate of uncharted time – and an opportunity to pick up an art form she left off 25 years ago.

“When COVID struck and the quarantine began, I had the perfect strategy to keep me energized and busy,” she says. “Twenty-five years ago, a girlfriend and I took a mosaics class at Bedrock recycling [in Seattle],” says Moreland. At Bedrock, which repurposes building and landscaping materials, “I did a few mannequins’ heads and legs,” learning to create patterns in broken shards of glass, then grouting the design into place.

Moreland packed up her art materials, for decades. Les Baigneuses marks her return to the medium, and demonstrates her powerful instinct for the ancient technique. Each torso exudes a striking persona (accordingly, each one is named). Under the artist’s hand, the armature completely disappears inside a skin of sinuous line, expressive color and rich texture.

“Two years ago, I discovered that I’d saved the heads and glass, and started working again. I bought two legs, then a torso. I learned everything through trial and error. The torsos provided a much larger canvas to work on, with myriad possibilities.” The torsos also gave Moreland a dimensional canvas on which to explore her fine sense of fashion, some of it sexually charged or futuristic. Along the contours of the body, jewel-like glass buttons run through vibrant fields of glass, giving the eye a path to follow, front and back. “I soon became addicted. It provided me a creative outlet, a way to use my years of color and design in a new medium, and a way to keep my hands and mind busy.

“Two years later I have 13 pieces. They are primarily recycled torsos from closed department stores, with recycled glass from Bedrock Industries. It takes a minimum of one month to design, draw, cut and attach the glass, and finally grout. Although they were originally intended as outdoor art, I subsequently learned that the mannequins I bought new during the pandemic were made of PE plastic which made them unstable outdoors in the sun. Those five are for indoors only. The remainder are grouted with a very high-end outdoor grout for temps to minus 30 degrees. The lightest weighs 16.5 lbs., the heaviest 24 lbs.”

Exhibit Curated by Lisa Kinoshita, on display October – December @ Foss Waterway Seaport