The Mosaic Muse

Glass works: Fox Chase artist Nora McCloskey works on various mosaic designs in her studio. One of her recent works, Wildfire, will be on display in City Hall now through March 27. The piece is 3 feet by 5 feet, and is composed of cut glass in grout and enclosed in a wooden frame. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

Nora McCloskey sees the artistic potential in an old mirror and shards of glass.

The Fox Chase resident can transform the pieces into vibrant and colorful mosaic designs, and one of her recent works, Wildfire, will be on display in City Hall now through March 27.

Interviewed last week as she was working in her Oxford Avenue studio, the 48-year-old McCloskey was cutting and setting glass for an untitled new piece. She held up an old mirror that will be used along with glass she had purchased. Some of what she’ll use was found or given to her, she said.

“Nothing gets thrown away,” she said.

Wildfire will be among many pieces in “The Mosaic Muse” exhibit at City Hall. It’s a big piece, 3 feet by 5 feet, and is composed of cut glass in grout and enclosed in a wooden frame.

“Its mighty flames are made up primarily of fiery shades of red, orange and gold hand-cut colored glass, mirrors and glass beads,” she said. “Blue and grey hand-cut glass fill the sky above.”

The piece took an entire summer to complete, McCloskey said. “And I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.

McCloskey said she submitted two pieces to the juried show, but only the one was chosen by a panel of judges.

She described mosaics as “my passion,” but for McCloskey, it is a relatively new flame.

McCloskey grew up in Lawncrest in a large family. Her strong interest in art was encouraged by her parents. She recalled thinking she wanted to be a teacher or an artist when she grew up.

She became both.

After graduating from Cardinal Dougherty and Kutztown University, McCloskey taught fourth grade for 12 years and then began an art program at St. Martin of Tours. For the past 15 years, she has been teaching art to pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade ever since. She taught at St. Albert the Great after leaving St. Martin’s.

When home on maternity leave in 2004, McCloskey began teaching local kids drawing and painting in the basement of her old Rhawnhurst home. That blossomed into her Blooming Artist Studio, which moved out of her basement to Rockledge and now to Fox Chase.

She teaches preschoolers to old schoolers (her oldest student was 82) at her studio on Oxford Avenue near Rhawn.

“I am proud to say that several of my students have earned art scholarships from local high schools,” she said.

Four years ago, she took workshops with mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, whose work, McCloskey said, is throughout the region. He’s well-known for his “Magic Garden” at 10th and South streets, she said.

“His mosaics involve not only classic grout, glass and tile, but also many other ‘found objects’ like bottles and bicycle tires,” McCloskey said.

She’s been hooked on mosaics ever since.

McCloskey credits friend Fox Chase photographer Cindy Masiejczyk for bringing the Mosiac Muse Exhibit to her attention.

“Without her, I would most likely never have known about this awesome opportunity to share my passion,” she said. ••

The Mosaic Muse exhibit will be on display on the 2nd and 4th floors of City Hall through March 27. Blooming Artist Studio is located at 7971 Oxford Ave. Call 215–301–0103.

Glass works: Fox Chase artist Nora McCloskey works on various mosaic designs in her studio. One of her recent works, Wildfire, will be on display in City Hall now through March 27. The piece is 3 feet by 5 feet, and is composed of cut glass in grout and enclosed in a wooden frame. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

Glass works: Fox Chase artist Nora McCloskey works on various mosaic designs in her studio. One of her recent works, Wildfire, will be on display in City Hall now through March 27. The piece is 3 feet by 5 feet, and is composed of cut glass in grout and enclosed in a wooden frame. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS