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Mosaic Artist Bonnie Cohen Creates Collaborative Art at the Adler Aphasia Center

The donor wall is installed at the Adler Aphasia on July 12, 2016.

Mosaic artist Bonnie Cohen designed this mosaic mural with help from members of The Adler Aphasia Center

The Adler Aphasia Center provides help for those living with aphasia and their caregivers. To celebrate their 15th anniversary,  mosaic artist Bonnie Cohen was commissioned to design a collaborative mosaic mural to honor their generous donors.

Mrs. Adler’s words said it all…. “It is exactly what I wished for…A HAPPY WALL!”

“This project at the Adler Aphasia Center in N.J was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on”, said artist Bonnie Cohen. “Everyone who participated saw how art can bring people together to heal, to energize and bring happiness into our lives.”

The project was directed by Kathy Davis of the Welch Sign Company of Portland, Maine. Bonnie designed the mural and artistic concept with input from the Adler staff, including art and speech therapists. The design featured a winding pathway through a garden of mosaic flowers with the quote, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

During a two-day artist in residency, participants created mosaic flower motifs. Since most of the participants were only able to work with one hand, the project was designed to accommodate their physical limitations. Many of the tiles were pre-cut and the flower motifs were created using an adhesive mesh material.  Bonnie  created an instructional video with simple directions  about the project with helpful input from the staff.

After 2 days of intensive and invigorating mosaic workshops, 70 flower motifs were packed and shipped to the artist’s studio in Akron,Ohio. Mosaic leaves, stems and the background colors were added to complete the picture. The incredible staff even arranged a time to skype so everyone could see Bonnie’s progress in her studio.

Executive Director Karen Tucker said,” We love how the wall has inspired our donors, the pride the members have taken in pointing out the flowers they crafted, and the warm and welcoming feeling it exudes when any person walks in the Center. It was such a pleasure from beginning to end to work with Bonnie and the team at Welch Design. The process and that Bonnie and the members and volunteers created says so much about who we are  and how we want all those that enter our program to feel as they navigate life with aphasia”.

The upbeat attitude, the dedicated volunteers and the joy and camaraderie of the group made this project a success. The staff  had a vision, and Bonnie said,”I was truly honored to be able to help bring it to life!”

B’Seder

B’Seder

This is now my favorite Hebrew word. It means OK. Israelis were on their cell phones constantly. Whether they were ordering cabs, organizing our work schedules, meal  plans and everything else. The word “b’seder” was repeated over and over.

When the conversation turned to politics though, it was clear that everything was not b’seder. The people we worked with seemed to feel that their government has made some bad choices and they are not happy with their leaders. They are especially unhappy about how they are viewed by the rest of the world.  More than one person said “ what can we do?” They are looking for solutions and feel misrepresented by their political leaders  ( sounds kind of familiar). They particularly resent the  Ultra Orthodox community who don’t serve in the army. They want peace very badly, of course,and many of them are willing to sacrifice the land to get it. One artist (whose son works with explosives in the tunnels) said “ the Arabs are here, they’ve always been here. We should be able to live in peace together, but there are too many Israelis who want war to solve the problems. ”

At the end of my journey home, I was getting off the plane after the 12 hour flight. Waiting for everyone to de-plane, I was standing behind an elderly Christian couple. As we walked slowly down the aisle,the woman looked at the incredible mess, filth, trash and food left on the plane where one of the many Hasidic families sat. I cannot express how embarassed I was. This Christian woman turned to me shaking her head and said, “ we have to learn to care more about one another.”

I don’t want to end the trip with any negativity. It was a journey of a lifetime. It was all about making connections with other artists from the US and Israel, the Israeli schoolchildren, the teachers, our guides and all the planners of the program. Everyone’s kindness and caring made it a very special experience. Strangers who helped you on the train, soldiers who lifted your luggage for you, children who sang  the words to John Lennon’ s “Imagine all the People.”  It was truly  a unique and wonderful way to see the country. But there are big problems, difficult decisions and huge obstacles to overcome. If only our government and the leaders of Israel would take to heart the words of the woman on the plane” we have to learn to care more about one another.”

I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to create a mosaic  in Israel and to give the  Israeli children we worked with the message that  we do care about them and we hope and pray for peace.

Ahavath Torah,Englewood, NJ Donor Recognition Artwork

The quote chosen for the Ahavath Torah Donor Wall is found in the Torah portion describing the building of the Mishkan designated to be the dwelling place of G-d on earth. “Let them build me a sanctuary that I might dwell among them”.

Temple Beth Ami – Rockville, Maryland

Endowment Wall

This artwork was chosen to be included in the 2009 Society of Mosaic Arts International Exhibition in the Architectural Installation Category

Summa Hospital Palliative Care Unit

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Artist Statement

“The Ripple Effect”

When a single element touches a pool of water, a ripple occurs and its effect spreads across the water in all directions. Like the effect of each and every donation and like the effect of each kind gesture or word, a whole world can change from the actions of a single person.

The reflection of a graceful tree in a pool of water compliments the natural theme of the Palliative Care Unit. The donor plaques, the handmade ceramic tiles, and glass mosaic come together to form the image of a graceful tree spreading softly across the entire wall. It draws the observer closer to touch and discover hidden treasures: pressed leaves, organic textures, luminous colors, and words of inspiration embedded in the clay tiles.

The donor recognition wall allows each individual to be honored for their actions and at the same time, to be an inspiration to others, by becoming part of a peaceful, serene wall of visual and spiritual gifts.

JCC of Springfield, MA

Donor Recognition

Design Summary

A bold design solution was needed to catch the attention of everyone who enters the Springfield JCC. After seeing photographs of the space, my first impression was that the design must be clear and simple.

I approached this project as I would approach a logo design. I tried to come up with images that would be quickly and easily recognized. I used broad strokes of color and bold graphic shapes. The donor plaques would become totally integrated into the design so that the viewer is first attracted to the wall by the design and then drawn closer to discover the donor names.

I proposed a combination of tile and corian for the plaques and a concrete facing to cover the brick pattern both indoors and outdoors.

The challenge of this project was to make the design flow from outside to inside. I also had to test many different clays and glazes to make sure they could withstand the northeastern climate.