This week I’m packing for a month-long June residency at the Olive Stack Gallery in Listowell, Ireland. A crucial prep step is assembling my portable toolkit, without which I feel off balance, and with which I feel ready for anything, anywhere. I love the tool roll concept: each instrument carefully nestled into its own snug channel, then rolled together into an efficient unit that’s easily stashed and unfurled studio-ready wherever I land.

Along with my tools, this roll carries a legacy of kindness and inspiration that makes me smile with gratitude each time I tie its bow. Its original owner was JeanAnn Dabb, mosaic artist and historian, who succumbed to cancer in 2015, and it was gifted to me after her passing by her dear friend and mine, mosaic artist Sophie Druin. I didn’t know JeanAnn well, but I was lucky enough to have several conversations with her over the years at SAMA conferences, sharing our love of unique materials and abstract design. Jean was a brilliant academic and a gentle, soft-spoken, curious and thoughtful artist and human being. I came away from each of our conversations with a much larger view of the evolution of mosaic as well as a renewed inspiration to find deeper and more meaningful connections between materials and ideas.

Considered and meticulous as she was, I can imagine JeanAnn carefully selecting and placing her travel tools just as I’m doing today. I love that mine go all over the world wrapped in her sensibilities and Sophie’s generosity, both of which have made me readier for whatever comes my way.

For more on JeanAnn:

http://www.mosaicartnow.com/2012/07/terra-incognita/ A lovely look at several of JeanAnn’s works.

https://archive.org/details/JeanAnnDabbOnArtDisciplines A 4-minute audio interview that gives you a glimpse into JeanAnn’s beautiful mind.

https://americanmosaics.org/jeanann-dabb-long-time-supporter-of-sama-loses-battle-with-cancer/ A short note on JeanAnn’s lasting contributions to the Society of American Mosaic Artists.