Gail Christofferson

Gail Christofferson

Mosaic Artist

November 17, 2020

Organization:

Animal House Glass

Website:


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

Over the years that I have been installing large-scale public art I have had the opportunity to work on murals in schools, libraries, hospitals, corporate lobbies, court houses and outdoor murals. I have had several opportunities in the last year to create mosaics for corporate clients as well as my favorite grant project with The Lovell Family Foundation. I even took the time to explore a sculpture idea during this CODIV season and installed a sculpture in Bowling Green at Simpson Gardens.

Most recently I installed a mixed media mural in Prineville Oregon in February at a Facebook Data Center lobby. I saw a new piece at the Toledo Art Museum in which the artist Elias Sime created a mural using computer motherboards. I was inspired to ask Facebook if they would like to use computer parts in conjunction with my glass; they loved the idea. The motherboard and computer parts arrived and I deconstructed them and then reconstructed them in a mosaic style.

I have also just completed two murals with the Toledo Community Foundation/ David C. and Lura M. Lovell Foundation Grant and The Zepf Center. These murals address the stigma of mental illness. One is located on the City Paper building on Adams and 12th and one is on the corner of Perry St and N. St. Clair. There are seven portraits on the City Paper building. Five self-portraits from the Zepf Center clients and Abe Lincoln and Vincent Van Gogh, the common denominator is that they all suffer from mental illness.

The abstract mural on Perry street is an interactive mural using 3-D printed QR codes to provide information on the mural design and to address different facts about mental health. They both use art to start a conversation about mental illness with the hope that those conversations will lead to reducing the stigma that is associated with mental illness.

I have a mural on the corner of Adams and Michigan that was also made possible by the Lovell Family Grant and that mural addresses homelessness and the connection to mental illness.

Although all of my work is important to me, these murals that bring awareness to mental health in our community bring me the most fulfillment as an artist.


What current projects are you working on?

I am currently working with 555, a Chicago interior design firm, on a piece for a new restaurant.

I have another Facebook Data Center Lobby in Ohio that I am in the design and approval stage.

I am ALWAYS applying to calls for entry. I have two projects that I am a finalist and will be presenting concepts in early 2021.


What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

I think that a smaller city has allowed me more access to other artist and the arts community. I have also found that creating public art and getting it placed in the city is a much more accessible process than in larger cities.


Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

I think my greatest successes are my projects that engage the community in the actual mosaic process. The hands-on experience allows the community member to have a lasting connection to the art. The projects that address mental health and the pieces that I worked with the juvenile justice system are by far the most important and I am hopeful that they have made an impact.


Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

I have a few people who have inspired me on this journey, for one my mom, she was a really creative person and although she was not an artist, she dove into funky decorating ideas and creative solutions throughout her life. I also am inspired by my dad, he was super competitive and so am I and I think that competitiveness has helped me get to where I am today.

Finally, I have my husband Bruce Works who is local commercial photographer. He is my role model on how to be a successful creative and how to run a successful business.


Tell us about your background.

I have a degree in Visual Communications and marketing from BGSU and for many years worked in the advertising, graphics and PR worlds. I ran a small stock photography business WAY back in the day, before it became what it is today. I also ran a small graphics business the catered to the agriculture community, small municipalities, and school districts.

I took a stain glass class and fell in love with the tactical quality of glass. That began my latest creative chapter. Once I had given everyone I know a stain glass piece and had tried the art/craft fair scene, I moved onto the mosaic process with my scrap glass.

This is when I really found my path. I started teaching and selling my mosaics to up-scale retail and small galleries. I did that while I had my graphics company and eventually got a large commission with a school district. That mural led to another and another and another. 10 years ago I was able to quit the graphic business and focus on being a full time mosaic artist. My focus now is large-scale mosaics.

I have worked my way up from a having a hobby to a full time artist with a lot of time, effort, and dedication.


Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

I live by the Serenity Prayer. I am not a religious person in the traditional sense, insert your preference - God, your Guardian Angel, karma, the universe, etc. The prayers goes like this: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Somewhere over the last 10 years I was introduced to this prayers to help manage things in my life. I used it as a mantra for many years and I still wear a bracelet with the prayer engraved on it.

This prayer helps me keep things in perspective and work on the aspects of my life that I can control.


Favorite place for local culture?

Toledo Art Museum. My husband and I go to an art museum in every city we visit and Toledo really does have one of the best in the country…and it’s free!


Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

Toledo Ballet, and not such a secret the Toledo School for the Arts.


My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

Pre-CODIV I would say my local dive bar, Docs in Tontogany Ohio. On any given night we can run into friends, no need to plan or scheduled , just go for a taco or burger and a beer and see our local friends, our own little “Cheers”. I miss that!!!!


My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

All the Metroparks and for me especially Wood County Park District’s Otsego Park on the river. I walk there several times a week and each day the visual is different and gives me a chance to slow down and appreciate where I live.


When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

My garden, cooking, entertaining friends, visiting family.


Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

Many of my large-scale projects I collaborate with Deb Buchanan. She and I have a great working relationship. She takes our ideas and produces beautiful illustrations for me to present to potential clients. She understands and allows me to use those illustrations as a jumping off point for my mosaic glass work. It has been a extremely successful partnership.


Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

I would love to collaborate Yusuf Lateef. I adore his work and messages to the community and would love to take his designs and create them in glass!


Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

I think I would have to say NPR.org. I get updated on news and current events, I can listen to all sorts of music, Tiny desk concerts, jazz, classical and I can laugh, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, Car Talk, etc. It is my go-to almost everyday for whatever I am in the mood for. (I donate I promise).


3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Joyful, community, friend


Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Frank Sinatra- Duets,
Carol King - Tapestry 
Bob Marley - Exodus
B- 52’s Album (the one with Rock Lobster) 
Billy Strings - Home


My biggest vice is . . .

Chocolate and anything sugary and sweet!


The last lyric that moved me was . . .

Billy Strings - Watch it Fall - The lyric address how long until there’s nothing left at all in our world, the hourglass is growing empty now!


The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

An American flag, we used to help my dad hang a giant American flag from our second story from window when I was growing up, after my dad passed and my mom moved, the flag got lost in the shuffle. My husband bought me a huge American flag for us to hang on holidays from our home’s second story. It was the most beautiful gift I have ever gotten, a way to show the love to our country on those special holidays and a way to pass on a family tradition to my children.


My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

When I am in my studio all day, listening to music or a baseball game or a book on tape, farm animals in the background and surrounded by glass and supplies and to spend the day creating in my own space and time.


I want my last meal to be _______________.

Margaritas from Lomas Lindas…and oh some sort of Mexican food. (you know it doesn’t really matter after a few of those margies).


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