Norway Memorial Library’s Mosaic Project, funded by a grant from the Maine State Library Fund, was unveiled last Thursday during a special ceremony. Advertiser Democrat photo by Nicole Carter.

NORWAY — The Norway Memorial Library unveiled a public art project last Thursday. Dubbed “Piecing Stories Together,” the project is a series of mosaic pieces inspired by popular children and young adult literature.

Local mixed media artist Nikki Millonzi facilitated the project. She also produced the mosaic art display at the Fair Share Coop in Norway.

“The idea came from a conversation I happened to have with Norway’s library director, Beth Kane,” Millonzi said Thursday night, following the mosaic’s unveiling ceremony. “She commented that she wanted to add color, and I asked what she thought about mosaics.”

From there the two decided to apply for a grant from the Maine State Library Fund. The proposal was approved and last February Kane put out a call to the community for volunteers to take part in the project.

“Nikki has been enthusiastic, energize, inspired and inspiring,” said Kane during the unveiling ceremony. “After we talked about what we might do, she came back to me with the grant practically written. I really appreciate the work she did on the proposal, and with the participants and the library. Nikki really made this happen. My thanks is heartfelt.”

Millonzi thanked all the volunteers, calling them the “mosaicers,” who threw themselves into the project to create something completely new and unfamiliar. Some of the panels took up to 18 hours for teams to complete. The first participants began working on their panels in February and the last one was completed in this month.

The project volunteers each stood to talk a bit about the book title they chose and the process.

Ellen Gibson and Peter Herley interpreted the modern fairy tale Uprooted for their mosaic.

“We chose Uprooted, especially considering all that is happening this year. The book is based on the Japanese-American experience during World War II,” explained Gibson. “But we were thinking about migrants from all over the world who were and still are uprooted and felt it a really important theme to express.”

“I was uprooted a lot myself as a child,” added Herley. “So it has a lot of meanings for me. And I’m an artist; I usually work alone. To work with another individual was a really good thing.”

Sara Bean Dailey and Elaine Doble-Verrill based their mosaic on Miss Rumphius.

“When we started, I wanted a message, something empowering to girls,” said Doble-Verrill of their choice. “I decided I didn’t really have to save the world with this project. Sarah came up with the idea for Miss Rumphius, and I love lupines. I grow them and love the whole story about spreading beauty.”

Dailey said she had worked on a mosaic project in the past as a youngster, ironically by the same person who would later train Millonzi in the medium. She helped him work on a chimney in Otisfield.

“But this was much better than being asked to add a few pieces to a chimney to make it pretty,” she said. “This was so much fun.”

Betsey Foster and Mary Delano took inspiration from the picture book Julian is a Mermaid.

“Does the cathartic experience come from artistic expression or the smashing of plates?” quipped Delano. “The smashing was great fun, as was the collecting.”

“Mary is a very good scavenger,” said Foster. “She came up with tiles to make our panel.”

Georgina Grenier and Laurie Phillips used the classic Charlotte’s Web to create their panel.

“We came to a pig rather serendipitously,” Grenier said. “The animals I thought of couldn’t be done with bits of smashed tile. I talked Laurie into doing a pink pig silhouette against a blue sky. My mother loved this library, and the sky blue came from her dinner plates. Hunting for pink … there actually isn’t a lot of pink china out there so we included golds an other colors.”

Pam Libby and Nikki Millonzi collaborate to create a mozaic from Blueberries for Sal.

“I wanted Blueberries for Sal, although you don’t see Sal in the mosaic,” Libby said. “But you do see Little Bear. And blue for the sky, which is from actual sea glass.”

Becky Cheston and Terry Robinson went to the Harry Potter series, illustrating symbols of good and bad.

“We chose Harry Potter because it’s fun, we love it,” said Robinson. “We incorporated movement—Hedwig—and mirrors to make it bright and shiny.”

“Terry knows a lot about constellations and Draco is a constellation of a dragon so we included that,” added Cheston. “My dad was a scientist who collected Spode and other fine china in the different countries he went to. I smashed up some pieces to use and I think he would be really honored about it.”

Jessica Cooper and Annika Black tapped Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go.

Annika Black, one of sixteen volunteers who contributed to Norway Memorial Library’s community art mosaic, captures a picture of the panels at the unveiling ceremony last Thursday. Advertiser Democrat photo by Nicole Carter

“Dr. Seuss has been a really large influence in my life,” said Black of her choice. “And I had just read the book to my daughter.”

Aranka Matolcsy, Heather Daggett and Judy Schneider based their mosaic on the staple Where the Wild Things Are.

“These are some of the most beautiful mosaics I’ve seen,” said Matolcsy. “Just because of all the hands that went into making them. It was fun to work with such amazing women with such creativity. When I worked for an arts non-profit I wanted to see more public art and I’m so excited to be part of this project.”

The last panel completed, Once Upon a Time, was the centerpiece. It was created by Millonzi.

“When I started the last one, to be the center,” she told attendees at the unveiling. “I didn’t know exactly know how I would integrate all the different stories. Then it dawned on me that this would be a good way. ‘Once upon a time’ are good story words.”

Maine State Librarian James Ritter was on hand to see the unveiling and spoke about the success of the library fund since it began in the 2014 tax year.

“The legislature began the project, and including libraries as a beneficiary was added at the last minute,” he said. “To maintain participation an organization has to bring $25,000 in donations or be eliminated. In the beginning ten were included and now it’s down to six, and libraries are one of them. We got $45,000 from the last tax season and it has been fantastic for us.”

The mosaic panels are on view in the library stairway. Volunteers Forest Tinsley, Reed Tinsley, Robbie Bergman and Peter Herley were also thanked for the hard and precarious work they did to safely install the project.

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