Gallery Expression

Kathy Thaden | An Inner Fire

‘At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.’ (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer p. 370)

These words from the Eucharistic Prayer articulate the environmental focus and inspiration for much of Kathy Thaden’s mosaic art. She writes, “As an artist, my work is informed by my Christian faith – expressing awe at creation and the Creator, as well as responsibility, a divine call to stewardship of all that we have been given. As a mosaicist, I treasure glass and stone scraps or discarded items from our ‘throw-away’ consumer culture. It is important to me that nothing be wasted, finding beauty in what was once broken.” 

Linking her art to her faith Thaden says she tries to be always open to God’s possibilities, giving rise to sacred art formed in prayer.  “How do I discuss the impact of environmental issues – on both our natural surroundings and the rest of humanity? What can I contribute to the narrative of healing and restoration? By imagination and inspiration, I believe as artists we can be truth-tellers.”

Using found objects, discards, and glass remnants or other unique materials Thaden creates something new. Mixing a variety of materials enables her to tell a visual story. “Working with these fragments is transforming. The pieces are broken, change shape, fit together, and then made whole again. There are no leftovers. This is my voice, my vision, my life – exploding with precious bits and pieces assembled over time.” 

Thaden’s study of fine arts and degree in Commercial Art first led her to a career in broadcast design. For 25 years, Thaden worked in television as art director, animator, and graphic designer, winning numerous honors for design, including seven Emmy Awards. Seeking something more tactile she was drawn to contemporary mosaic art 17 years ago, finding her way back to fine art. 

Thaden often crafts her mosaics on hand-formed substrates as with Rising and Fragile Earth. The irregular shapes offer a more organic sense to the pieces.

Rising | 8” x 17” Gold smalti, assorted smalti, millefiori, tempered glass, mortar and cheesecloth
Fragile Earth | 12" x 15" Raku, wood, slate, smalti, muscovite mica, abalone, paper, turquoise, howlite, sandstone, and apple twigs on hand-formed substrate

 Incorporating natural elements such as fossils, twigs, tree bark, river stones, slate or shells also speaks to the beauty of Creation as in Living Water, inspired by the fight for water rights at Standing Rock. Fragile Earth and Earth in Pieces were born out of the Eucharistic prayer above regarding this, “our island home.”  

Living Water 13” x 13” Ammonite fossil, abalone, raku, river stones, beach glass, stained glass, paper and ceramic shards
Earth in Pieces | 12" x 12" Geode, slate, paper, muscovite mica, stained glass, raku, fruit tree twigs, sunflower stems, river pebbles and sandstone

In Oasis the three gold pieces of smalti on the horizon are a reminder of the Trinity. The spiritual desert is lonely, foreboding place. But within the solitude, there is a sense of the Creator, glimmers of hope, and the realization that we are never alone. Sanctuary offers a sacred place of refuge, shelter and protection.

“The Lord built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever.” Psalm 78:69

Oasis | 8” x 8” Gold smalti, miscellaneous glass, beads, millefiori, and copper wire
Sanctuary | 8" x 8" Smalti, stained glass, ceramic tile, vitreous, stone, beads, millefiori, and gold

Found objects can include a zipper (Ripple Effect), or bits of broken auto glass (Rising), or colorful magazine paper bits as in Living Water and Fragile Earth. Thaden does use more traditional materials as well, combining stained glass, smalti (both Italian and Mexican glass), millefiori, beads or marble as in Oasis, Sanctuary and Ripple Effect.

Ripple Effect | 20.5” x 12.5” Marble, zipper, smalti, ceramic, millefiori, abalone, assorted glass, stone and beads
About Kathy Thaden

A full-time studio artist, Thaden’s mosaics range from abstracts to liturgical art and commissioned works. She weaves her passion for modern mosaics together with reflections on God’s gift of creativity during her popular Mosaics as Meditation retreats and workshops. A Professional Member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists, Christians in the Visual Arts and the Episcopal Church & Visual Arts, Thaden is founder and past President of Colorado Mosaic Artists. She is an active member of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church in Golden, CO where her husband serves as rector.

Read more