ProjectsCeramics – “Stars in the Garden” Monastery Mosaics (2016)

“Stars in the Garden” is a handmade ceramic mosaic that tells the story of a high holy place in one of Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhoods. This was also the location of Cincinnati’s first observatory. The artwork was commissioned by Towne Properties and is installed in the foyer of the Holy Cross Monastery, newly resurected as the Monastery Event Center.

  • “Stars in the Garden” - handmade ceramic mosaic tiles that tell the story of Mount Adams, a floor inlay in the foyer of the new Monastery Event Center

  • The design includes circles, hexagons, octagons, cubes, parallelograms, and is generally based on the Aristotelian symbols of triangles for the Five Elements – Water, Earth Air, Fire, Aether (unity of thought and emotions.)The design includes circles, hexagons, octagons, cubes, parallelograms, and is generally based on the Aristotelian symbols of triangles for the Five Elements – Water, Earth Air, Fire, Aether (unity of thought and emotions.)

  • The mosaic is located immediately inside the front door in the foyer, on axis with the altar. Colors for the palette were selected to harmonize with the restoration and to recall the colors of Rookwood pottery.

  • Vintage postcard of the Holy Cross Monastery, showing the position of the garden that has been reinterpreted for Monastery Event Center by Human Nature landscape architects.Vintage postcard of the Holy Cross Monastery, showing the position of the garden that has been reinterpreted for Monastery Event Center by Human Nature landscape architects.

  • Human Nature’s redesign of the south entrance and garden plaza. The mosaic was originally intended for this setting, but it was determined that better chances for longevity would be created if the art was installed indoors.

  • Documents for first conversations with the Towne Property owners and design team about design and colors for the mosaic.

  • Final color sketch with coded glaze colors and dimensions (48” x 48”)

  • Raw carved and stamped clay show the Monastery structure, exploding fireworks from the Pyrotechnics Garden, and the passage of the Hale Bopp Comet just a century later.

  • As an honor to Neil Bortz a set of tiles is devoted to the Towne Properties logo, his pipe and his favorite ride.

  • Raw clay state of the Rookwood Pottery tiles, including a low relief portrait of Marie Longworth Nichols, founder and director.

  • Finished glazed tiles for Rookwood Pottery

  • The Bortz Family constellations, based on their birthdates, were determined by Dean Regas of the Cincinnati Observatory. The stars in the sky are created with inlaid glass shards.

  • Virgo’s fired tiles

  • A grouping of tiles honor the first peoples living in this place: the Adena, the Hopewell and later, the Shawnee.

  • Features of Eden Park include flowers, the bridge at Twin Lakes and the Balluminaria hot air balloons.

  • Eden Park’s botanical beauty

  • The Highland House and Mount Adams Incline as well as the starry sky of the Observatory accompany John Quincy Adams’ portrait. Originally named Mt. Ida for a washerwoman living in a hollow sycamore tree at the base of the hill, the community was renamed Mt. Adams because the president came to lay the cornerstone of the Observatory.

  • The center of the mosaic is filled with thick glass tiles that reflect the light that is of both spiritual and scientific importance to this place and to this artwork.

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