Lynn Lanners had never worked with glass before -- but a mosaic class for seniors helped all the pieces fall into place.

During the summer, mosaic artist Debra D’Souza solicited works from 49 senior citizens in Rochester, during sessions at the Rochester Art Center, Austin ArtWorks, and 125 LIVE.

The project, called “50 by 50+,” was funded by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

The first of two mosaic exhibits went up Oct. 28, in 125 LIVE’s senior center. An artist reception will take place on Nov. 8.

Mosaic from the 50 by 50+ exhibit. Contributed / Debra D'Souza
Mosaic from the 50 by 50+ exhibit. Contributed / Debra D'Souza

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Lanners was familiar with D’Souza’s works before she heard about the classes, and “thought they were exceptional.”

“I was so excited -- over the moon -- when I was offered a chance to participate in the class,” she said.

That excitement manifested in Lanners’ yet-unnamed piece -- a crescent moon with a star, surrounded by traditional mandala shapes.

“For me, the moon seems to hold a special fascination,” she said. “Crescent moons have a variety of meanings. I gravitate to its association with womanhood, intuitiveness, psyche and empowerment.”

Debra D'Souza works on a stained-glass mosaic mandala that will be displayed in the alley that runs behind the Castle Community on  Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, at the Castle in downtown Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Debra D'Souza works on a stained-glass mosaic mandala that will be displayed in the alley that runs behind the Castle Community on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, at the Castle in downtown Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Many of the senior artists had never worked with glass before, D’Souza said, but turned out well nonetheless.

“You can just see the pride on their faces when they see how well their artwork looks,” she said.

Participant Bernadine Jax had spent 14 years making mandalas -- but never with stained glass.

“The thing that surprised me was the time needed to learn how to use the instruments well, in order to cut the shapes of the glass to complete the project,” she said.

Rhonda Ostberg, a previous mosaics student, said she based the design for "Sun and Moon" on an abstract painting by Robert Delaunay.

"Sun and Moon" by Rhonda Ostberg. Contributed.
"Sun and Moon" by Rhonda Ostberg. Contributed.

The first session, she said, was all about designing the mandalas.

"We had access to paper and tools to help draw a circle the size of the mandala you wanted to make," Ostberg said. "From there, we divided the circle into sections and played with shapes and came up with a design. The next two sessions consisted of cutting colored glass to create our mandalas."

A second 50 by 50+ exhibition will go to the Rochester Art Center in December and January, D’Souza said.

Lanners was proud and surprised to hear that the finished pieces would be displayed.

“I couldn't believe how much this class awoke my creative spirit,” Lanners said. "I'm a beancounter by trade and while I have a creative side, I often set it aside for long periods of time. (D’Souza) is right; mosaic really has an incredibly additive quality to it!”

Mosaic from the 50 by 50+ exhibit. Contributed / Debra D'Souza
Mosaic from the 50 by 50+ exhibit. Contributed / Debra D'Souza

If You Go

What: 50 by 50+ exhibit at 125 LIVE

When: Exhibit opened Oct. 28, art reception 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in the River Rooms

Where: 125 LIVE, 125 Elton Hills Drive NW, Rochester

More Information: https://rochesterartcenter.org/event/debra-dsouza/