by Liran Dor
As I continue to make more observations about the people around me, the more I see the similarities and blandness that surrounds me as well. Everyone does the same thing but in a different way. I believe that this is what makes us human. By trapping ourselves in a cycle of wanting to be like those who surround us, it also makes us boring and unhappy. This mosaic is the story of a man, who, like most of us, has gotten trapped in his need to be the same as everyone else. The man is being cured of this need to be the same as everyone else by the the most colorful part of the piece—the glasses. These glasses are showing him the path to actual happiness. The reaction that you can see in his eyebrows shows that he is learning something, that his entire perspective is changing, and that now he can actually see.
This piece also represents me, stuck in the mindset of wanting to be happy but not knowing how. This semester, in my Expedition class, we studied Chinese culture and its most influential philosophies: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Buddhism stuck out to me in particular because of its emphasis on personal happiness. The entire religion is based on making yourself happy. A Buddhist teaching that I thought a lot about in particular was the belief that detaching oneself from all sentimental items will bring bliss, because without attachment you have nothing to lose and nothing to fear of being lost. I wanted to test this as it seemed silly not to test something that could potentially make me happy. In order to detach myself from my work, when I finished my mosaic, I dropped it on the floor and watched as the pieces that I spent hours gluing down flew off the artwork like birds being freed from a cage. It felt good, and it felt sad, but the sad feeling lasted the day and the good feeling lasted a week. I then painted the exposed background black and wrote “I See” on every surface I could find, because I felt I could really see what life could be like. I caught a small glimpse of the potential happiness I could have if I detached myself from unnecessary sentiment—at least, I think so.
I cut tessera (tile parts) into small pieces and placed them in the shape of a body, head and hair and assigned certain colors to each section. The background was made up of opus tessellatum, a basic, linear pattern designed to not draw attention. The scatteredness of the pieces that make up the man himself against the plain background makes him pop out of the piece, drawing all attention to his key details: his mustache, his eyebrows, and his sunglasses.
The goal of the piece was to evoke some curiosity in the person looking at it. It is designed to make you wonder what this man is feeling and/or actually seeing in this snapshot of his life. The process that I went through building him was long and I had to make many artistically questionable decisions, such as trying to grout the frames of his sunglasses and accidentally ruining some of it, deciding how large his head would be in comparison to his body to make him pop out even more, and of course, throwing him to the ground. I believe this process left me with an amazing mosaic and an even better message that I am truly proud to share with whoever reads this statement: sentiment is truly overrated.