Arcadia High School

Piece by Piece cultivates a mosaic of young minds

Piece by Piece, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit whose aim is to promote the arts as a viable trade for low-income and at-risk individuals, recently collaborated with A Place Called Home in South Central Los Angeles to introduce youths to the art of mosaic-making.

Piece by Piece programs associate Daniel Villa learned guitar at A Place Called Home when he was a teenager, and now finds himself giving back to his community. Art, Villa said, is key in developing confidence and self-expression.

“When you need to express yourself…art is a powerful medium to really use as a way to guide you as a youth, as a teenager, to explore the world through the medium of art and really question the world and create. Once you start creating, then you know that I am also capable…I’m not just a static piece of history, I am now active in my life, because I know I can create things,” Villa explained.

Villa feels that the beauty of mosaics is that they are unwanted fragments given new purpose. “With mosaics, you have to break things apart and put them back together. Or things that are discarded, you can bring them back to life. Things that are broken are usually thrown away, but with mosaics, when you break a dish, if something is going to be discarded, you can repurpose that and create a new piece with what you have.”

Piece by Piece receives around three tons of donated ceramic and glassware, which it uses for materials in various workshops and projects.

The works made in collaboration with the kids at A Place Called Home will be on display Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31 at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival.