Tree Bursting with Mosaic Leaves Sends Political Message

Cynthia Gingerich helps get the word out about the Community Mosaic Tree project.

Cynthia Gingerich helps get the word out about the Community Mosaic Tree project. (Photo: Courtesy of Julie Norton)

Santa Cruz mosaic artist Christine Evans was profoundly affected when Donald Trump won the presidential election.

“There’s so much divisiveness and serious concerns that people have, I thought I would like to do a community piece that makes it possible for people to come together and create something that they care about together,” Evans says.

100Days_300x300zThat’s why Evans came up with the idea of a collectively created mosaic tree. “Mosaic is a really easy medium for anybody to feel like they’ve created something beautiful.” she says.

So for the past four months, Evans and fellow mosaic artist Julie Norton have organized monthly mosaic tree-making sessions, where anybody is welcome to design and put together a leaf.

The basic concept.
The basic concept. (Photo: Courtesy of Christine Evans)

Evans created a template for the tree. Individuals who attend the workshops get to create their own leaf designs. Some people have made political symbols like a #BlackLivesMatter fist or a planet symbolizing environmental values. Evans and Norton encourage people to talk while they make their leaves, and especially want to inspire discussions around the meaning of what they’re creating.

One eight year-old artist made a leaf he calls “Escaping the Wall,” referring to the wall on the Mexican border President Trump is keen to build. Another mosaic-maker who voted for Trump made a leaf to express the importance of love and connection with her family.

Christine Evans and Julie Norton carve out the backer board for the mosaic tree.
Christine Evans and Julie Norton carve out the backer board for the mosaic tree. (Photo: Courtesy of Cynthia Gingerich)

Two cupped hands made of tiles that reflect the diversity of skin color will go at the top of the trunk. Built of tiles that reflect the diversity of hair color, the trunk will feature prominently in the finished work, Evans says.

“I want to create a space where we can come together with respect for one another,” Evans says. “And maybe if there are differences of opinion, we can influence each other. Everyone has been very willing to share.”

"Scale of Justice," by Eve Eden. She says "I grew up hearing the expression, 'the wheels of justice move exceedingly slow and exceedingly fine.' She didn't come to a mosaic making session with a set idea, "but after sitting with my feelings, I realized that my hope was in the power of the law - just law. So my tile had the scale of justice at the bottom, with many colored tiles above representing all the peoples of this country - in community, being held in a just system."
“Scale of Justice,” by Eve Eden. (Photo: Courtesy of Julie Norton)

Evans anticipates the end product will be roughly 10 feet across and six feet high and will be finished sometime before the end of the year. There is no permanent display location established yet, though Evans hopes the artwork will go on show somewhere in Santa Cruz County. “I’d love it to be on or in a public building that isn’t going to be removed anytime soon,” she says.


Q.Logo.BreakThe next scheduled mosaic making event is on Sunday, Apr. 23. More info here.

Tree Bursting with Mosaic Leaves Sends Political Message 12 April,2017Rachael Myrow


Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow is KQED’s Silicon Valley Arts Reporter, covering arts, culture and technology in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. She regularly files stories for NPR and the KQED podcast Bay Curious, and guest hosts KQED’s Forum.

Her passion for public radio was born as an undergrad at the University of California at Berkeley, writing movie reviews for KALX-FM. After finishing one degree in English, she got another in journalism, landed a job at Marketplace in Los Angeles, and another at KPCC, before returning to the Bay Area to work at KQED.

She spent more than seven years hosting The California Report, and over the years has won a Peabody and three Edward R. Murrow Awards (one for covering the MTA Strike, her first assignment as a full-time reporter in 2000 as well as numerous other honors including from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television News Directors Association and the LA Press Club.
Follow @rachaelmyrow

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