Kelly Nygard is a mixed media mosaic artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She began her artistic career mosaicking flowerpots and tabletops. The foundation of her work was glass mosaic. “I love symmetry in designs—polka dots, stripes, plaids—but the challenge is creating the appearance of symmetry without being attached to the perfection of the lines.” She started with tile, Czech seed bead or sheets of beautiful stained glass. Eventually she turned to creating floral bouquets from vintage objects found at thrift stores.

Inspired by her husband, she began mosaicking real animal skulls. “Working on natural substrate gave my work greater honesty and integrity.” Being real, the skulls all have a unique shape. “I especially love the skulls that are slightly imperfect because it reminds me that neither myself or any of my creations need to be perfect in order to have value and beauty.”

As a mixed media mosaic artist, Kelly usually begins her process with a favorite object as the central focus piece and works outward from there. She enjoys incorporating found objects into her skull designs and they often serve as a central focus point. Kelly will also use what she calls “interesting objects” like porcupine quills, old architectural pieces and other upcycled objects. She loves blown glass, vintage jewelry, Italian Capodimonte porcelain flowers, and charms of all types.

For the next step in the process, she uses Czech glass seed beads in either a scatter of linear design. For the scatter design, she lays a base of adhesive and then scatters individual seed beads. She then allows the layer to dry and then continues building on the base until the entire surface of the skull has been covered. The linear design is created using seed beads on hanks (strung). She will use an air pen, typically used for painting, filled with glue. The air pen allows her to lay down a thin line of glue to place the strung beads along. “I enjoy the challenge of creating a seemingly symmetrical design on a natural object, which is often far from symmetrical.” She will also gild some of the skulls. The gilding is done using thin sheets of gilding paper with real copper, gold, or silver.

“In a world of emphasis on standing out from the crowd and the importance of the individual, my work speaks of the true random cohesiveness of all our lives. The way seemingly disparate objects come together to make a beautiful whole. Each individual component, taken separately, is barely able to stand on its own. Yet, when assembled without judgements, one object leaning on another for support, the result is a vision of unity.”

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