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Mosaic artist sets up at schools

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Dimitry Melman poses with one of his mosaic pieces in his studio in the basement of his home.

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Dimitry Melman poses with one of his mosaic pieces in his studio in the basement of his home. Photo Store

Mosaic artist Dimitry Melman is participating in the Artists in the Schools (AIS) program for the second time.

Running for more than 40 years to date, AIS is a program which facilitates partnerships between professional Manitoba artists and students from kindergarten to Grade 12 in Manitoba. First, artists need to apply to get accepted into the program. Teachers can then browse the AIS directory for the artist they want.

"(There are more than) 60 professional artists who travel to schools all over Manitoba, working with teachers and students to enrich the existing arts curricula," Leanne Foley of the Manitoba Arts Council wrote in an email to The Metro.

The St. James-based artist is teaching how to make mosaics at eight schools altogether. This week, he is at Carpathia School for two weeks. In October, Melman will be at Stonewall Collegiate for two weeks. In January, he will be teaching for three weeks at Robert Browning School.

"Last year, I was overbooked," Melman said. "This year, I’m booked for mostly the entire year."

Mosaics are an art form traditionally made with little pebbles, then later on with tiles, which are arranged together to create an image.

"I like the process," Melman said. "Anything I do, it’s about the process. It’s about sketching, taking it from the little sketch and turning it into a large installation."

Melman also enjoys the longevity and permanency of mosaics, saying that whether the piece is placed outdoors or indoors, it will last for many years, suffering little damage.

While Melman is in the schools, he usually follows the same regimen for making mosaics with the students.

First, he asks the teachers to come up with a theme.

"For example, with Carpathia School, it’s going to be about water," Melman said.

Next, he will introduce the students to the project, discussing topics like tiles and the methodology of putting it together. Then he’ll ask the students for sketches for "studio day."

"I gather their ideas and make one large sketch," Melman explained.

Lastly, Melman will draw the final sketch on heavy brown paper to be cut up into sections, so the kids can work on the different sections.

"When I work with kids, the kids can actually touch and feel the texture of the mosaic," Melman said. "I always tell some students that I would never allow you to touch my paintings but you can touch mosaics."

Melman is the owner of and artist at Studio on Strathcona (647 Strathcona St.). He began his art education in Moscow until his family immigrated to Winnipeg. He then went to the University of Manitoba for a short period of time before continuing to study art in France for three years, where he said he fell in love with mosaics.

He returned to Canada, but lived in Vancouver for a while, where he started his own company called Mosaika. He eventually came back to Winnipeg to teach mosaics at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and out of his home studio.

While he doesn’t offer workshops anymore, Melman does occasionally provide lessons, but he said he doesn’t have the time for that anymore.

For more information about Melman and his work, visit studioonstrathcona.com

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