During our Mosaic Masterpiece Tour to Italy in October, we had a studio visit with Rosetta Berardi, owner of Girasole Publishers in Ravenna. Rosetta has been curating a brilliant little exhibition (Girasole is a small gem bookstore, a boutique publisher of art and culture texts). Every time Ravenna hosts a Ravenna Mosaico, the biennial of all things mosaic, Rosetta hosts new works in an ever-growing collection of mosaics about books. Some of the best-known and most accomplished artists in the mosaic world have contributed clever and tongue-in-cheek mosaics to the exhibit. While touring Bibliomosaico, I was pleasantly surprised (thrilled!) to be invited to contribute a piece. The next Ravenna Mosaico exhibit isn't until October, 2015. In the mean time, Bibliomosaico is traveling to the National Library in Riga, Latvia.
So here it is: Vade Mecum.
Here's the story: In 1945, an Arab peasant discovered 13 papyrus codices in a cave in Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt. The treasure contained more than 50 texts thought to be written in about 140 A.D., including the Gnostic Gospels heretofore considered lost when early Christian church leaders subverted Gnostic teachings in a struggle to establish one “true orthodoxy.” A complete translation was finished in 1970, and biblical scholars embarked on a re-evaluation of early Christian theology and their understanding of Gnosticism.
Vade Mecum, Latin for “go with me,” is defined as “a ready reference or repository of knowledge to be carried about by a person.” The mosaic depicts a map of Upper Egypt and Nag Hammadi, where the codices were found. The substrate, an e-reader given to me five years ago, is already old and obsolete. I have replaced it with a smaller, faster, lighter Kindle. Although the reading screen is covered in rough limestone and glass to symbolize the Egyptian terrain and the Red Sea, underneath it is a repository of unlimited knowledge in the form of texts downloaded from the Internet.
While literally all of our combined writings can now be carried on an e-reader in a pocket, the thoughts and stories contained in the Gnostic Gospels were available to us only when the physical scrolls were unearthed, dusted off and translated by scholars.
A special thanks to maestro Giulio Menossi of Udine, Italy, for introducing me to the Gnostic mosaic cycle at Aquileia and guiding our group through the story of the Nag Hammadi discovery.