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Mosaic artist Michelle Sider reflects on Women’s History Month

Michelle Sider is a Detroit-based multimedia artist that currently has her mosaic piece “Peppers 1” on display at the Las Laguna Art Gallery’s “Women in Art” exhibit.

Sider worked as a psychologist, illustrator and teacher before she became a full-time artist at age 60, drawing attention for her paint-like style and in-depth, colorful mosaics that bend light and change colors throughout the day.

At first glance, Peppers 1 immediately draws the eyes despite its seemingly simple appearance and holds them as they wander across cut glass, deep color tones, detailed angles and unlimited depth that is a feature of Sider’s pieces while invoking a range of emotions.

"Peppers 1" is part of a larger series of Sider&squot;s work that focuses on light.
“Peppers 1” is part of a larger series of Sider’s work that focuses on light. Photo credit: Michelle Sider

Sider’s love for glass mosaic began when she repeatedly viewed “Quilting Timeby Romare Beardon at the Detroit Institute of Arts. During subsequent trips to places such as Israel, Costa Rica, Italy and Belgium she admired the historical significance and longevity of the process and materials.

“Peppers 1” is part of a larger series of work where Sider focuses on light. While shopping at the market, she was inspired by the color and robust form of red peppers on display. She brought them home and photographed them for three days at various times and angles until she found a composition she liked.

Her mosaics have a sense of depth within them, and while the materials are different from painting, the process is similar.

Sider creates colorful 3-D mosaics like this one from sourced glass all over the world.
Sider creates colorful 3-D mosaics like this one from sourced glass all over the world. Photo credit: Michelle Sider

Sider explained that she starts with black and white sketches, moving to color studies and then transferring the reference drawings into glass. She continuously refers back to initial sketches, matching the values (light and darks) and colors with the selected glass so that the original sense of space is maintained. It is time-consuming, taking approximately fifteen times longer than the time needed for a painting.

Lighting plays an important role in Sider’s work, and to her, it is all about the light and how it bounces off of surfaces, as well as how it affects colors and perceptions. Her fascination with this translates into her mosaics that change color as the light fluctuates throughout the day. The effect is created by placing the glass at specific angles that reflect light from different surfaces.

Sider was gracious enough to correspond over email, providing in-depth statements on her style, work, influences and Women’s History Month.

Q: Does “Peppers 1” relate to Women’s History Month in any way?

A: Every piece I create is an expression of myself in a way. I do not think that the content of the individual piece itself needs to be a direct statement about women, rather it is the collection of a large group of women’s work shown together which brings about awareness of the value of women’s contributions to society during Women’s History Month. Women have long been overlooked in the visual arts and I applaud Las Laguna Art Gallery for sponsoring the Women in Arts Exhibit which showcases the best of what numerous women have recently created.

One of Sider&squot;s mosaics, "Steam," is an example of the motion and depth that is in her work.
One of Sider’s mosaics, “Steam,” is an example of the motion and depth that is in her work. Photo credit: Michelle Sider

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to young women that are finding their passions as artists?

A: Go for it! Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way. If you are passionate about creating art, go in with your whole, mind, body and soul. If you play it safe and divert your energies on a backup plan you will stand in your own way of being successful and fulfilled.

Las Laguna’s “Women in Art” exhibit will go through March 27. Michelle Sider’s “Peppers 1” can be seen on the gallery website along with other physical pieces.

Sider’s work can be seen in the Mosaic Artists International exhibition online, in person at Detroit’s Ellen Kayrod Gallery,  and on her website. Her work is also represented by Twisted Fish Gallery in Elk Rapids, MI. 



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