In February, I worked with teacher Marta Olsen and her 4th block art class on a collection of glass mosaics for a hallway skylight at Cleveland High School, Seattle. My mosaic installation at CoCA reflects the respect and affection I developed for the students during the time I spent with them in their class.
Recent violent events in our nation's schools speak to the stress of growing up in a late 20th-century, First World consumerist society. It is a hard time to come to maturity. These intelligent and honorable young people deserve our attention and respect.
In general, my site-specific installations address issues of perceived safety/comfort versus threat/anxiety. With this installation I pose the question: can we, as individuals, create personal safety without creating a society safe for us all?
The conceptual antecedents for my mosaics are 1) the stone floor mosaics of Classical Antiquity depicting gods and other respected cultural icons and 2) the Fayum encaustics of Ptolomaic Egypt which present likenesses of specific individuals. Perversely, with mosaics we walk on those we honor.
Modern installations, like most things in our throw-away culture, are temporary. Though my expression of respect cannot be permanent, it does utilize what the students would call a "money" new material.
I want to thank Marta Olsen and her 4th block art students, especially Mohamed, Kisha, Nancy, Paul, Chanty, Shahana, Moses, Joe, and Jakara at Cleveland High School, and Calvin and Joe at Kestrel Blueprint.
—Ingrid Lahti, 1999