Cornerstone’s Artist of the Month for January 2015
Amanda Rife is a mosaicist based out of Harrisburg, PA. For nearly a decade, her creative outlet of choice has been an ancient art form with a modern twist, where she cuts sheets of stained glass into smaller pieces and meticulously arranges them to create her interpretation of the subject matter.
Amanda has been drawn to a variety of different artistic mediums throughout her life, including drawing, collage, and photography. But when introduced to mosaics, she felt compelled to work with glass. The challenge to recreate textures and patterns, and to interpret objects and natural subjects, is one she eagerly accepts. In her creative process, she takes an object and deconstructs it in order to figure out how the glass will be cut and where the grout will be. Many subjects do not have hard lines, so the glass’ edge and the grout need to imply every curve and detail in order for the entire piece to come together. Every cut of glass is planned, with each edge cut in anticipation of the piece that will be placed next to it.
Just as every individual is unique, so is every single mosaic she creates. Every mosaic is hand-crafted with great precision and care, and even if an image is produced more than once, there will never be two mosaics with the exact same cuts of glass throughout the entire piece. Every mosaic truly is one of a kind.
Her artistic influences are found in every creative soul she comes in contact with, both through personal interactions and artistic research. She’s mesmerized by the cropping and lighting techniques of photographers, the line choices of tattoo artists, a painter’s commitment to a brush stroke. She sees their interpretation of an object and it forces her to imagine how that same image would be created in her own medium.
Through mosaics, Amanda hopes that others will look at her work and feel compelled to look at the world around them and see why it is beautiful. Art in all of its forms is inspiring, so if she can put a smile on someone’s face or create a spark within, just simply from her art being viewed, she feels she has succeeded in producing her best work. With all of the time, devotion and sentiment that she puts into every single mosaic, the new owner not only takes home a piece of artwork, but a piece of the artist as well.
Below is a recent Q&A with Amanda.
Tell us briefly about your background & how you got started in your medium.
I have always been drawn to art for as long as I can remember. I took art classes both in and out of school and tried every medium I could get my hands on. Once I was introduced to mosaics, something just clicked inside me and that initial excitement I felt just never faded. It all started when I was making mosaic flower pots as a summer hobby. A friend of the family saw my pots and asked if I could create a Penn State logo out of glass on his coffee table. I brainstormed and told him I’d give it a shot, and the end product was just so much better than I had ever imagined it would be. And with that, my new passion began to grow and I haven’t fallen out of love with it since.
How does your medium inform your viewpoint? Or what do you like most about your medium?
I absolutely love the challenge of interpreting a photo or drawing into glass and having it make sense. A big part of that is picking out the right glass. There are so many different colors, shades, levels of transparency, textures and designs as options, and I love picking the perfect kind of glass to best express each aspect of the image. Every little detail comes together in the end to create the bigger picture. Those details are my favorite.
Who or what have been your artistic inspirations?
First and foremost is my mom. She’s a creative soul and has always encouraged me and supported my curiosity to try different mediums and I will forever be grateful for that. My husband is so incredibly creative as well. He’s a professional painter, but he’s also been commissioned for murals. Painting in itself does not come easy to me, so to watch him do it and on such a grand scale just blows me away. I’m inspired by all types of artists. Painters, photographers, tattoo artists, sketchers, graffiti artists, mosaicists, people who make collages, the list goes on. Anyone who can look at something and interpret it through art is amazing to me.
Do you have a favorite piece in your portfolio?
I really do love every piece, but some of my favorites are the black and white tree, the rainbow birds, sheet music, the white tiger, Day of the Dead skulls, and the pit bull silhouette.
What would be your advice for artists just starting out in your medium?
See a mosaic through to the end. Even if you feel like it may not turn out right, just pay attention to the details of every piece of glass you put down and trust that it will all come together. The first time I made a mosaic of sheet music, I cried as soon as I finished laying the glass. I really thought I had messed up and I hated the way it looked. I had put so much time and effort into that piece and I felt like it was all for nothing. But then I grouted it anyway and I’m so glad that I did, because it turned out to be absolutely beautiful once it was completed. And the person that commissioned it was blown away by it.
For more information on Amanda’s work, please visit her website, AmandaRifeArt.com