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Refugee Creates Stunning Mosaic Art

Mosaic artist Reham Aarti has created beautiful works of art for spaces across Idaho. Her latest creation is a massive and stunning mosaic for a newly opened Catholic grade school. She talks to us about her work and how laying mosaic has taught her to let go and work with what you’ve got.

Video Transcript

Reham Aarti: Here’s one of those places where you have to be flexible, because it doesn’t always work right. Sometimes what you think is super overwhelming, if you chunk it down into pieces, all of a sudden that’s kind of more doable. I think that’s how it is with mosaics. Sometimes it’s kind of cool to let those pieces guide you.

Mosaics. Boise, Idaho.

Reham Aarti: I was a very big planner. I already knew how my life was gonna go. I had a 10-year plan at 17…and nothing! Nothing is like that. Not a single thing is the same way I had planned it.

Narrator: In 1990, Reham Aarti’s world fell to pieces. In the face of the Iraqi invasion, Reham and her family had to flee Kuwait and take refuge in the United States.

Reham Aarti: And when somebody kind of rips your country out from under you like that, it’s a shock to the system, but I almost feel like I had been picking up pieces my whole life. Like, it became kind of a natural thing to go, “Okay, okay. I get where that came from.” Okay, but I’m gonna do this with this, and I’m gonna change this here. I think that’s how it is with mosaics. Sometimes it’s kind of cool to let those pieces guide you.

Narrator: Going piece by piece, Reham has created stunning creative works of art for parks and public spaces across Idaho. Her latest creation is a massive six-foot by twenty-foot mural for a newly-opened Catholic grade school.

Reham Aarti: You get so kind of focused in those details. I mean, you work one little piece at a time. So you know, this little flower, this little circle, this little star, and you keep stepping back, and it just seems it’s taking so long, I mean months on a project like that. But, it’s those little details I think that make it really cool.

I listen to people talk, and they get so forceful about when something doesn’t go the way they planned and it’s like, you know, I’ll have the perfect piece of glass and I swear, every single time I’ll drop it. It’s like, “Ah!” So that perfect piece of glass is now in 10 pieces. So it wasn’t how I wanted it to be. But, oh, okay, look at that cool cut. That worked out great.

So I think if you just learn to have faith that it’s okay not to always be the boss, you know?

Grotto: That’s great.

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