Three-Hour-Mural with Josef Norris

by Pamela Goode


I am not a speed artist. I don’t do anything in three hours, let alone a 9’x12′ wall. The great joy of this class for me was learning to work against my grain, with no time for obsessing, intricate cuts, considering and reconsidering the design, or taking a sleep-on-it break.

This weekend I was lucky enough to make my first visit cross-country for a stay at Laurel True’s fabulous Institute of Mosaic Art. The occasion was a workshop offered by San Francisco mural artist Josef Norris, who has facilitated 66 mural projects in Bay Area public schools, in addition to his own mosaic installations. Our class of nine mosaic artists, all women, was composed primarily of dedicated artists beginning work in the public sector. Along with two half-days of advice, q&a, and tips, we completed this 9’x12′ mural in the Jingletown section of Oakland. In fact, I have to tell you that our nine fabulous women completely tiled this wall in three hours! We grouted the second afternoon in three colors, and from mixing to the final clean-up, took only about 2-1/2 hours.

Josef had the simple design chalked in before we began, handed us buckets of mostly-broken tile, and said “Go. You have three hours.” And you know? I’m damn proud of it. I hope this experience will filter over into much of my life, which I yearn to spend working in a blessedly meditative way, but could really benefit from dividing the meditation from the unproductive angst.

For more info on Laurel True and IMA, look here. For more info on Josef Norris and his Lid Serve murals, look here.