Saturday, May 7, 2011

Creating Beautiful Art from Recycled Junk & Glass – Mosaics by Flair Robinson

"Atomic Wheelies" by F. Robinson, photo by Lin Schorr
The art of making mosaics is an ancient one. They are made from pieces of colored ceramic tiles, glass, stone and other materials. Artists have been composing images in churches and homes that have lasted for many centuries. In more recent times, the technique of mosaic has been used around the world as decorative art in community places such as schools, halls, airports, and even subways. To continue our editorials on artists around the world, here is an exclusive interview with artist Flair Robinson featuring her fantastic and  inspiring collection of beautiful mosaics.

Artist Flair Robinson
The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself.  My name is Flair Robinson. I am a self-taught mosaic and assemblage artist from Telluride, Colorado. I work primarily with ceramic tile, hand-cut glass and recycled junk. I am first and foremost a colorist and am fascinated by the endless combinations of color. I am constantly seeking new, different, and exciting variations. I find inspiration from unusual sources; road-side attractions, advertising from the 1940's and 50's, vintage fabric, ephemera and old southern folk art (the funkier the better!). I most enjoy taking bits and pieces of nothing and turning them into something. I don't seem to be able to commit myself to just one medium, or one style. My work is in a constant state of evolution.

"New York City" by Flair Robinson, photo by Stacy Smith
TMFMA: Where do you enjoy doing your creative work?  I have a studio space that is housed in the historic Stronghouse Studios building, in Telluride. My space is part of an artist's coop provided by Telluride Arts, our council for the arts and humanities. It's
a fantastic place and I am surrounded and inspired by other artists there.

TMFMA: How did you get started? I've been an artist all of my life, but there were many years that I didn't create – I sort of buried the urge to create under piles of work and everyday life. About 10 years ago, I had a major personal tragedy, shortly after, I woke up one morning and decided I no longer wanted to keep doing what I had been doing – I wanted to be a full time artist.

"Vincent's Choise" by Flair Robinson, photo by Stacy Smith
TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? When I work, the world around me disappears. I travel from thought to thought in my own little space, experimenting with this and that, playing with different concepts. When something works and I have that ah haa moment, it's the most wonderful feeling in the world and when others respond to my work in a positive way...well it just doesn't get any better than that!

TMFMA: What's you favorite medium or tool you create with? I've had a hard time choosing one medium over another. I think that's why I've combined both mediums of mosaic and assemblage and am now a mixed media mosaic artist I really enjoy mixing things up and pushing the boundaries of traditional mosaic style.

TMFMA: Do you work by yourself or do you also do collaborative work? I've done quite a bit of collaborative work with Wildcat Studios in Austin, TX. Their studio used to be housed here in Telluride, it was a sad day for me when they moved away. We've been experimenting with designing and printing our own ceramic tile, that I incorporate into my mosaic work.

Mosaic Chair by Flair Robinson, photo by Stacy Smith
TMFMA: Tell us of a fun and creative project or a collaboration, and what you learned from it.  I was asked to create a piece for the annual Ah Haa School of the Arts Benefit Auction. It's kind of a big deal around here to be featured in the live auction, so I knew that I was going to have to step it up. I decided to create a special mixed media mosaic chair for them. I really wanted it to be different than anything that I had ever done before and I incorporated many new techniques. I can't tell you how many times I chiseled things out and started all over again. I worked with and designed materials that I had never used before. It took me to countless hours to create, just cleaning off the grout (using mostly q-tips and nail polish remover for the fine clean) took me 7 days. I cursed that chair every single day, but the skills I acquired from doing it, pushed me forward (by years I think). When I was done, I missed working on it so much, that I was at a loss for what to do next. I guess you could say that I had fun...

TMFMA: Where do you like to look for inspiration? I am a collector of American, Navajo and Mexican folk art and textiles, those items often inspire me. I have a million art books, so those too. I spend countless hours on Flickr and other artist's websites, looking at all types of work—all of it helps to inspire me and to get me excited about creating

"If Only" mosaic by Flair Robinson, photo by Stacy Smith
TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? I am fascinated by Outsider, Visionary and Vernacular art and artists like Bill Traylor, Maddie Lou O'kelley, Nek Chand and Isaiah Zagar. Alternative environments like the Watts Towers and Cano's Castle (in Antonito, Colorado) really get me excited. If there's a house covered in anything but brick or wood (like license plates or plastic babies) I am going to want to pull the car over (my poor husband just shakes his head). Also the work of artists Tony Fitzpatrick , Margaret Kilgallen and Jean Michel Basquiat just to name a few of MANY!



"Peace, Love and Daisies"by Flair Robinson, photo by Stacy Smith
TMFMA: What are the reasons for you to do what you do? I have no choice in the matter – I must create. It's the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of when I go to bed at night and in the countless hours of my insomnia. It's my every obsession and I am consumed by it. Someday, when I'm gone from this planet, it will be nice to have left a little bit of me behind...

TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? I recently received a grant to learn how to create sculptural concrete substrates for mosaic application. I am so excited to finally be creating 3-dimensional mosaic work, something that I've wanted to do forever (I've always felt that I SHOULD be working 3-dimensionally). I'm going to be creating a big sculpture this summer – I cannot wait!

You can find Flair on Facebook  and Flickr under FLAIR ROBINSON STUDIO.
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