Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Mary Tapogna

85: Mary Tapogna

Create an ongoing Black Lives Matter mosaic portrait series

I am a mosaic artist. I specialize in creating distinct mosaic portraits. My subject matter has revolved around those passionately move or inspire me. I have been making my living as a mosaic artist for 30 plus years.

Project description

I am a working mosaic artist. My strength is portraits. I use traditional and unorthodox materials to create my distinct style.

I have been working on a series of mosaic portraits of black men and women who have been unjustly killed at the hands of the police, and/or racist vigilantes. I have a series of seven completed portraits that I began during the pandemic. The portrait series includes thus far; George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Elijah McClain, Kendra James, and Rayshard Brooks. After completing these portraits, I moved my life from the west coast to Vermont. My intention is to resume working on these Black Lives Matters Portraits, as there seems to be an endless number of black human beings who are dying in this unnecessary tragic manner, and with the ever changing news cycles, we as a society seem to move on to other things, quickly.

There is a consistency to all of these works, yet very personal touches within each portrait that tell a story about each individual human, and their unrealized potential. I do not intend to sell any of these works, but see appropriate to exhibit them as a volume of educational and motivational works to hopefully inspire change and justice, and to keep this a very present issue in our society.

It seems that as a society, we lose the intense interest in news stories when something else comes along. Creating these tributes to these black lives that we have lost is my way of saying, ‘Never Forget’. Each portrait is intense with customized trinkets (within the mosaic) that pay homage to each life lost. The portraits work individually, but the idea of the expanding number of completed portraits, is a statement within itself. There are too many to count, and we must not forget.

Media Sample 1

“George Floyd”

Media Sample 2

“Breonna Taylor”

Media Sample 3

“Elijah McClain


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Desmond Peeples September 5, 2023