Meet the Artist

An interview with Brenda Pokorny, mosaic artist, and children's book author and illustrator
by Andrew Pokorny

AP:    First, let's cover the basics--where do you live, where did you grow up, where did you go to school, jobs etc.
BP:    I live in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.  Grew up in Worthington, Ohio.  Graduated from Miami University, Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1981, with a concentration in textile design.  1st real job was in the design studio at Imperial Wallcoverings.  That was when wallpaper was huge.  It was everywhere!

AP:    Who is in your household?
BP:    My husband, Jim, and 3 sons, Matthew, Michael and Andrew.

AP:    Pets?
BP:    We are down to 1 dog--Daisy, a (crazy) wire fox terrier, and 1 fish--unnamed.

AP:    What do you mean "down to?"
BP:    Well, we have had a dalmatian named Sweet Pea, a Welsh terrier named Isaac, lots of fish, a guinea pig, a 3-legged dwarf hamster named Fuzz, and
3 ducks--Binky, Pinky and George.  By the way--ducks make great pets!

AP:    Now it's time for some favorites, OK?
BP:    Yep

            color:  green
            music:  classical
            flower:  cranesbill--perennial geraniums
            sport:  basketball (except the NBA) to watch, tennis to play
           
book:  Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
                movie:  The Wizard of Oz or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
               authors:  Bill Bryson, Martha Grimes, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway,
                            Colleen McCullough, James Michener.
            children's book authors:  Roald Dahl, Richard Peck, A. A. Milne,
                                                        Sid Fleischman, Lane Smith, Kenneth Grahame,
                                                        Chris VanAllsburg.
            
AP:    If you could have 1 super power, what would it be?
BP:    Flight--definitely.

AP:    What do you like to do when not working in your mosaic studio?
BP:    Garden, and watch my kids play sports.  Also, travel.  I have a long list of
places I want to see.

AP:    What artists have influenced you, and in what ways?
BP:    William Morris, for the repeated patterns and stylized florals.  Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Klee, for the brilliant colors, and for the hints of pattern in their paintings.  Most of all though, I am drawn to the work of ancient mosaic artists.

AP:    Who else has influenced you?
BP:    I had a drawing professor and a textile design professor at Miami who both encouraged my interest in pattern and repeats.  My husband, Jim, has always supported my "hobby" completely.  But the biggest influence would have to be my four grandparents.  Growing up, I was lucky to have spent quite a lot of time with them.  They were all very creative, active, intelligent--and a touch crazy.

AP:    When did you first become interested in mosaic art?
BP:    My mother says she knew I would be an artist from the time I was a toddler. 
I was always drawing.  In school, my "notes" were mostly doodles of patterns and mazes.  I never actually studied mosaics, until for some reason I decided to make them.  I guess it was a natural progression from the repeat patterns of wallcoverings to the more intricate patterns found in traditional mosaics.

AP:    What do you hope to accomplish with your artwork?
BP:    Well, first, I do it for me.  I love working with glass and tile.  The materials are irresistible.  I love making an image from lots of little pieces--watching it come together and become something.  For some reason, the process of making mosaics is very satisfying.  With each project, I hope to create a beautiful and unique object.  Mostly though, I just enjoy making each piece. 

AP:    What do you hope to accomplish with this website?

BP:  My children's books are simply a thank you to my family--the generations that came before, as well as my kids.  Maybe reading them will bring a smile to someone's face.

Via this website, I'm sharing my love for ancient mosaics.  I am awed by the Greek mosaics I saw in Pella and Thessaloniki. 

I also hope to generate an appreciation of the San artists of the !Xun and Khwe project, and introduce their art to an American audience. 

AP:  What is the !Xun and Khwe project?
BP:   It is a group of artists in South Africa.  Go to my South Africa page for information, and to see artwork by some of the artists in the group.  Their art is beautiful and full of life despite their history of hardship.
 
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