Lauren Renée Quinn makes mosaics through tile harmony and was married through eHarmony, but since the age of five, art has been her singular melody. Quinn, 51, left some serious bucks – that would be her home in Bucks County, PA – for Tiverton last year after she became “toast” in the throes of the cuteness of local chef Marty Quinn after a match-up in 2010.
A ceramic arts major at Penn State, Lauren met her life’s calling (pre-Marty) when she spent her junior year abroad at Tyler School of Art in Rome and studied at the Scuolala di Mosaic Art in Ravenna, Italy. Stunned by the beauty and utilitarian design of Italian stone art as functional fountains, walls of homes, religious sanctuary and a way of life, she knew what her life’s work would be.
After graduation, she moved down to the Jersey Shore and got a job as a cocktail server at the Sands Casino, allowing her the time and resources to build her mosaic business. She started Custom Mosaic Design in 1998.
New Jersey’s loss was Tiverton’s gain when Lauren moved here to marry, “my sweetheart chef Marty. We were matched on eHarmony. For six months he would call and email me. Finally, a week before Christmas 2010, we met. I intended just to say ‘hi’ and ‘good-bye,’ because he lived so far away, but he was so adorable, once I met him, I was toast. So, we had a long distance romance until, finally, we mar- ried in 2012,” says Lauren.
Moving is never easy, but hauling a zillion tiles and stones present a unique challenge. “It is crazy because all the marble and mosaic pieces are so heavy. But, once I got to Rhode Island, I have been so impressed with the natural beauty of the area and the true appreciation for artists here. I am very optimistic that my business will do well here.”
Her studio has many shelves filled with clear jars, filled with mosaic pieces and supplies. She uses multiple tables for laying out the mosaics. The floor is concrete. Most of the furniture and tools are on wheels so she can re- arrange according to each project.
Bit by bit, mosaics take time – lots of time. “I once made three dolphins and a turtle for a pool and jacuzzi. These took me over a month, and then the builder requested five more dolphins for the sides of the pool if I could get them done in a week, be- cause the plasterers were scheduled. Of course, I said, yes. I didn’t sleep much. I pulled a few all-nighters, but I made them in time.”
Her mosaics are emblematic of Roman baths or Ancient Greek art: delicate, impressive frescoes. While studying classic art in Italy, she learned the importance of design and structure and the formal rules, but, “I put a modern spin on them by incorporating different materials. I work with marble, granite, stained glass, smalti, stainless steel and custom handmade tiles. I usually throw in what I call a rule breaker, a special twist. It is a little mystery for my client to find. Sometimes, it takes years for them to find my rule breaker.” She describes her work as, “Mysterious nature. Even my abstract designs have their foundation in nature and my rule breakers add a little mystery to them.”
Artists run in her family. Aunt June Davis was a portrait artist, who, along with her parents, inspired Lauren to pursue her dreams. Italy, well, cement- ed the deal. “The Italians enjoy amazing art in their everyday lives. Sitting at a beautiful sculptural fountain and eating lunch, or in their churches, look- ing at awesome frescoes and mosaics. For them, art was not just stuck in a museum. I thought, ‘How great would it be to make art that people could enjoy in their everyday lives?’”
Most of her work is residential installations, back splashes and floors, although she has done work in some com- mercial locations, stores, restaurants and logo mosaics. “I work directly with the homeowner or, through a tile store, and frequently with interior designers looking for a custom look for their clients,” she says.
Her wildest piece would be her naked lady mosaic. “A friend of mine asked me to do a ceramic mosaic portrait from a photo as a gift for her husband’s 50th birthday. Her husband took the photo (of his wife) when they were in St. Bart’s. She was naked, standing in front of an infinity pool, holding a shear scarf. It was quite an unusual birthday gift. She wanted to hide it in the master bath, but he loved it so much, he repainted the master bedroom and placed it over their bed.”
Lauren will be featured in the South Coast Artists Studio Tour, July 20-21 and Aug. 17-18. 1129 Stafford Road, Tiverton. Outside of the studio tour, book an appointment by calling 609-892-1002.