EDITOR’S NOTE: Naturally, all of us at Broome Arts Mirror are very excited about the upcoming Heart of the Arts celebration on Sept. 19. To help you join in on the excitement, BAMirror has, over the past couple of weeks, featured brief Q&As with our honorees. Today, our final conversation is with glass and mosaic artist and public arts advocate Emily Jablon, a recipient of a 2016 Heart of the Arts Award. HOTA recipients are honored for significant recent contributions to and impact on the arts in Broome County. They are nominated by the community and voted upon by the arts council membership.
By Barb Van Atta
Since her 2006 graduation from University of Vermont, glass and mosaic artist Emily Jablon has worked through her mother’s Susan Jablon Mosaics and now her Jablon Studios, LLC, creating award-winning designs and teaching arts classes. Like her fellow HOTA honoree Peg Johnston, she is a Broome County native who is being honored for her public projects in downtown Binghamton.
As her nominator noted, “her love of this community has led to beauteous mosaic public installations that have transformed much of the downtown and surrounding area.”
However, HOTA is recognizing Emily, not only for her artistry and civic commitment, but for her willingness to support underserved populations. She has provided training in mosaic art and guidance during project development for runaways, at-risk students, the homeless, and the mentally ill. She initiated the “Confluence Arts Project,” which empowers individuals with disabilities to create art in their communities.
Through email, BAMirror asked Emily the following questions:
What was your reaction to learning that you were a recipient?
My reaction was happiness and pride. Learning I had won this award gave me a rekindled sense of value. It’s a very esteemed and refined award and, when I saw the other recipients of the past, I was thrilled to be among them. I was a little taken aback, honestly, because as artists, it’s our job to make art. It’s not about the money. Clearly there is something inside of me that is “nonstop” when it comes to covering our city with glass tile, and I was thrilled and a little stunned that everyone likes it enough to give me an award. But then, I remembered the value of what my work offers, and that’s why this award means so much to me. I try to keep things pretty and neutral enough, so they appeal to everyone. I guess it worked!
HOTA awards are given to people whose recent efforts have advanced the arts in Broome County. What are your future plans?
My future plans are … fix my website. Make more public mosaics. Make money. Make more public mosaics. Expand. Force myself into fame and financial success through public mosaics. Continue to expand and grow. Make more public mosaics. So I can “Have a nice life (smiley face).”
What do you see as the strong points of the arts community in Broome? How about the arts audience?
The strong points of the arts community will be at the Heart of the Arts gala. Without those people, there would be no arts community. Their support is what makes the public art you see today happen.
Because I am a public artist, the arts audience is everyone who views my work. As long as they don’t vandalize anything, the arts audience is fantastic.
What can be improved or expanded in the arts community?
More grants from the state and county. More opportunities for not only the emerging artists but also for the artists who have emerged. Working with the universities in the area and the schools. Maybe more marketing and advertising from city planning as we show off what make our city so unique. More interactions between local designers and architects. New developments in the city should include emerged artists (such as the new parking garage, hint hint), and opportunities like the URI (Upstate Revitalization Initiative) money should incorporate professional artists.
How can we attract a greater audience, both locally and from tourists, especially among those who will comprise the audience of the future?
Show off our art!! Make a calendar! But… good question. When we figure it out, I need to apply it to my career (Lol).
Can you speak a bit to the concepts of collaborating with other organizations (fellow artists, businesses, etc.) and to serving the underserved in the community?
Collaborating with other organizations is mandatory for artists like me
to succeed. I could not mosaic and install 400 square feet in five weeks by myself, I’ll tell you that! Working with organizations such as Liberty Partnerships is a win-win opportunity for us both. The community also wins, which is why our collaboration is such a success and we are going on our fourth year and I’ve only been doing public mosaics for six. I would not be receiving this award if it wasn’t for collaborating with them.
When I work with others who want to take part in the mosaics, my programs are set up in ways so that everyone has a role and a purpose and can be proud of his or her individual success and also the team work to complete the whole thing. Working with others can be tricky and the ways I have set up my programs is something I am really proud of.
When working with businesses, it’s always a wonderful feeling and constant surprise because so many people want to be involved but not everyone wants to get dirty and put tile on a wall. Some local businesses may want to be involved just by donating lunch or putting their name on a tile for 50 bucks. It is always so flattering and rewarding that people want to be a part of what I do even if it’s behind the scenes. So many local businesses and other artists want to be involved somehow and some way, and it’s really supportive and cool. It’s like filling your car with premium gas; it keeps you going and feels better.
When I work with other artists, it’s normally late night at my studio picking their brain about how to do something new. Without this unspoken art law between artists, it would be difficult to stay fresh and feel refreshed, or even normal.
Do you have a dream project?
Well I just mosaicked a house covered in astrology signs, magic mushrooms, peace signs, yins and yangs, and Grateful Dead bears, so that was pretty dreamy. I guess the largest mosaic in the Guinness Book of World Records is the next dream! But any project that’s outside, public and profitable is a dream to me.
Remember, the Heart of the Arts Ceremony, celebrating the movers, creators and lovers of the arts in Broome County, will be 6 p.m. Sept. 19 in the grand ballroom of the DoubleTree by Hilton, 245 Water St., Binghamton. The gala event will feature dinner, performances and art displays. For tickets and more information about both the celebration and the HOTA art raffle, visit www.broomearts.org/hota.