Glass Mosaic Covid-Wall.
In Tipp City Guustie, Glass Artist, spent most of the lockdown mosaicking her 24’x8’ garage wall.
She had an abundance of time, plenty of glass and the knowledge. She had never done anything this big, but she figured: “What’s the difference!”
As with all art projects it started with a design, and she decided to use flowers. Flowers that interpret life is a recurring theme in her work. She knows flowers are recognized worldwide and speak to everyone, so she was confident that she could tell the story of her life and Covid through flowers.
Her parents in the form of Dutch tulips are at the bottom under the window, next to the water and the little tree of life. Additional orange tulips define her siblings, and her younger self. For design’s sake and to make it interesting she decided to keep one of the tulips closed. Later she realized that it represented her 16-year-old brother. Frozen in time, never able to fully bloom. She lost him when she was 13. Her brother’s death set the stage for the rest of her life. She left Holland, across the water, over the rock, through the window, where she met her husband. They are the happy sunflowers.
The rock shows the barrier Covid caused. No more traveling to family in Europe, South America, and Australia. She put a little ladybug on the rock, adding a little splash of red in her design. In Dutch, the ladybug is called “OnzeLieveHeersBeestje” literally translated to “Our Dear Lords small bug” Growing up in Holland it meant good luck if one landed on you, bad luck if you killed one. The bug represents hope during the pandemic.
When the death count of Covid hit 150.000 she decided to put 150 daisies on the wall. One daisy would represent 1000 people lost in our country. She believed the daisies would visualize the enormity of this pandemic. Now, almost a year later each daisy represents 4000 people lost, and this number is still climbing.
The three poppies are her three kids, no daisies over them, the virus was not as dangerous to young adults. The little buds are their partners, the three tiny flowers are the three grandkids, and the three seed pods represent possibilities.
The bottom half of the wall was completed in the fall of 2020. The sky would have to wait until the spring , she was tired and unsure of how to proceed.
“We are on an ocean with land in sight. Winter is like an enormous hurricane raging between us and the land. The hurricane is called Covid-19, we have to get through it to get to the land.”
In October, her mother passed away from a viral ailment. She was 90. It could have been Covid. Guustie will never know. Because of her dual citizenship, she was able to travel to Holland. It was a surreal experience, flying in scarcely filled planes and traveling through empty airports.
In December she lost her friend Laurie, former co-editor, and her children’s previous piano teacher. She was in her late seventies. She did not die of Covid, but Guustie is sure that isolation and depression did not help. Before Covid Guustie visited her every week.
In March Guustie lost another close friend, Peggy. Peggy was her mentor and confidante, as Guustie was for her. She had known Peggy since the early eighties when she came here fresh from Holland. Peggy was her biggest fan. When Guustie would take her to her doctor visits Peggy would always insist that she showed a picture of the wall.
Guustie was frustrated and angry.
“How had mask wearing become political, why didn’t people believe in science,” she wondered.
It was time to finish the wall. Ideas flew through her head. Maybe she could fill the sky with text, she was going to tell people what she sacrificed, not out of fear, but out of common sense, with firsthand information from healthcare workers in her family, from her family in Europe, Australia, and South America. She knew that Covid could be lethal for many people, and that we all had a hand in confining it. Covid was global and bigger than just us.
She wondered how history was going to view people’s behavior during this Covid time.
After much editing she decided to not let her anger speak, but to dedicate the wall to all the people lost, but especially her mom and her two friends. They are the three black birds flying away. Laurie: Music Conquers darkness. Peggy: I hated, and I loved. Mom: Always Free.
She added a cardinal. It says: “Fui quad es, eris quad sum! Which is Latin for: I once was where you are now, you will be where I am. She decided that this message, usually found on graves of Roman officers could also be about wisdom. The cardinal sits on a black wire made from words that say,
“The world changed - I changed with them. Guustie-2021”
During Covid she created something she had never done before, she went through a time she had never been through before. She realized yet again that everyone is different and reacts different under stress. What she learned about herself was that she found solace and peace in creating art.
She finished the wall on the 27th of June 2021.