Piece Work

A chance discovery of mosaics changes the life of a Skillman resident who at one time only pursued art projects for relaxation.

Coordinating color and shape of tiny, custom-cut tiles, Rhonda Heisler creates the big picture—New Jersey landscapes.
Courtesy of Rhonda Heisler.

Rhonda Heisler did not set out to be a professional artist. Although the Skillman resident says she has always been an artistic person, art for many years took a back seat to her career in advertising and marketing communications. She did art projects for relaxation in a variety of media, but it was her chance discovery of mosaics that changed her life.

Today, Heisler’s elaborate work has been installed in public spaces and private homes throughout New Jersey and beyond. Among her recent commissions: 24 mosaic panels for the Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell, which now adorn several locations in the new hospital, including the Adult Emergency Room, where nine New Jersey-inspired landscapes are on display.

Hospitals and health centers appreciate mosaics, which bring a vibrance to their walls. Other commissions for Heisler have come from the likes of Hilton Resorts and Seabourn Cruise Lines.

While some of her works are as large as 18 feet wide by 8 ½ feet high, Heisler’s original inspiration came from a small mosaic table purchased during a move to Princeton with her husband and two daughters in 1992. “Why did I buy this? I could have made it,” she recalls thinking. So she purchased a book on mosaics, taught herself the art and began to experiment with modest projects she would give to friends.

The game-changer came about 10 years ago, when she lost her job. It was time for a crucial decision about pursuing life as an artist. “I said, I’m not going to do it unless I can make a business out of it. So I had to find a way to sell it,” Heisler says. She began making mosaic mirrors and other functional items. “I took them around to some craft stores and galleries that were around here and came back with several orders,” she says. “They reordered. And it grew from there.”   
 
Heisler, a former vice president of the Society of American Mosaic Artists, works in a home studio, a large basement space where sheets of glass and containers of shards are organized by a rainbow of colors. Here, she is surrounded by newly started mosaics, sketches and items of inspiration. Upcoming projects include a multi-panel piece for the foyer in her own home. “My husband has been after me to do something mosaic on that wall for a few years,” she says.

 

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