Missing my train has led to some wonderful art discoveries, such as when I decided to go in the grand front entrance of Suburban Station while waiting until the next train. I usually enter via a staircase that rises suddenly out of the sidewalk. One Penn Center is an Art Deco building with a spacious lobby and I turned a corner to find two mosaic murals by Joyce Kozloff. The first is Topkapi Pullman, with a juxtaposition of an Art Deco train poster and patterns from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The second is William Penn holding the charter of Pennsylvania in his hand, inspired by Byzantine churches.
By serendipity, when Stratoz and I were on vacation, we saw a painting by May Stevens, Soho Women Artists, from 1978, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Joyce Kozloff is pictured sitting on the ground facing her son, who is leaning against Louise Bourgeois wearing a sculpture(!) When I was an undergraduate, I took a class in Feminist Art Theory, and wrote a paper on artists who used text in their work, since I was a poet, and loved words. May Stevens was one of the artists I featured, and I read about several of the others in this painting.
Kozloff was attracted to decoration and pattern early in her painting career, and by 1977 was moving toward public art installations, including mosaic. I was intrigued by her quote,
The feminist revelation—that the decorative arts were largely created
by anonymous women and people of color, and therefore degraded in the
eyes of historians and critics—forever changed my thinking.” Since I began making mosaics, I am drawn to pattern, and at times wonder if I should be doing something representational, as if pattern were somehow without meaning.
I’m glad Kozloff pursued the art she loved, and brought it into public places for everyone to enjoy.