By Jennifer Gilewski
Tom Thoune, local painter, mixed-media, and mosaic artist recognized the beauty in mosaics when he was just a child. With an interior decorator for a father and a painter for a mother, becoming an artist came naturally to him.
Creator of “Where East Meets West”, the shard (pique assiette) mosaic on the wall next to the Lynx Blue Line stop at Camden Road, Thoune’s most recent endeavor includes a mosaic floor piece and two illuminated pinecones at the entrance to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Providence Police Division Building in the Grier Heights neighborhood. Thoune was chosen, through a competitive process, and received support for this new project through the Arts & Science Council’s Public Art Commission.
While taking a ceramics class at Central Piedmont community college, Thoune observed many students throwing away pottery and ceramic tiles that they did not like. It struck him that the broken pieces served a much more useful purpose.
“What I love most about mosaics is that you can recycle broken pieces and make something truly beautiful out of something broken,” Thoune said.
The pine cones and the mosaic floor are examples of his desire to stamp out the throw-away culture. Many of the materials for this project, and his previous projects, were donated by members of the community.
Thoune’s artwork is inspired by many things including mythology, dreams and spirituality. However, one of his most prominent inspirations comes from his European travels. While visiting Italy, he was immediately drawn to the early Christian flooring called Terrazzo. The way the tiles were placed and how the colors came together fascinated him. The Terrazzo-style floor piece inside the entrance of the police department illustrates the badge of the CMPD officers.
The pine cones, symbolic of the Grier Heights neighborhood, have historically been used to signify everlasting or eternal life, strength and durability. Thoune’s pine cones will offer a gentle illumination at night to represent spiritual consciousness and enlightenment.
When Thoune first began his artistic career, his father told him, “there is no sanity guaranteed in solitude.” Thoune said his best words of advice for any budding artist is that you must interact and be an active participant in selling yourself, otherwise you will never advance artistically.