Rhythm and Movement in Mosaic
When you first see Lívia Garreta, you can tell she is an artist. Her brightly patterned clothes, her fiery hair, and even the blissful expression on her face as she speaks about her work are each their own work of art.
After studying painting in Barcelona, she moved to Italy to explore mosaic art, a Modernist style popularized by Antoni Gaudí called trencadís. But why mosaics?
“It is like painting with stone,” she said. “It is painting in a permanent way. And we can paint on any surface—the floor, buildings, fountains.” There is something very beautiful about paint that lasts forever.
“Beauty is useful to humanity,” she continued. “It is a way to capture emotion. When it is permanent, people now can look back on past art and feel those old emotions.”
In Italy, she studied the Roman mosaic style, which uses small, perfectly shaped squares to create images. Later she turned to her Catalan roots and began working in trencadís. This style is less precise. It involves breaking tiles, glass bottles, dishes, and other ceramics with a hammer, then using these less uniform, larger pieces to create a collage-style image.
“It is much faster,” Garretta said, smiling. “And it is like recycling.”
She speaks in poetic phrases. Observers at the Folklife Festival find her mosaics poetic too. They have movement, rhythm, soul, and symbolism. When I asked why it was important for her to bring her work to Washington, her answer was simple.
“I want people to know Catalonia.”
Meet Lívia Garreta before the 2018 Folklife Festival ends Sunday evening! She works throughout the day in the Mosaics tent in the Catalonia program area.
Abigail Hendrix is a video production intern at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and a graduate of the University of Washington with a B.A. in medical anthropology and global health.