I’m heading to Chicago for  ‘Natural Wonders: A Roman Mosaic from Lod Israel’, opening this Friday  Dec. 9 at the Field Museum. Now at it’s 3rd US tour venue, the Lod Mosaic coincides this time with another major exhibition at the museum ‘Whales: Giants of the Deep’.  These exhibits take advantage of The Field’s rich, natural history collections, from real animal specimens to ancient archeological artifacts. The Lod Mosaic’s cast of animalia is a checklist of exotic notables including an entire panel of  strange fish and sea monsters. Enjoy the slideshow of my detail shots of “Sea Faring” images from the Lod Mosaic.


This highly-detailed and eloquent masterpiece sparks the imagination and inspires awe at the sheer massive scale measuring in at 27 feet long by 13 feet wide. Yep, It’s a Whale of a Pavement. (ok, I said it.) The Lod Mosaic is one of the world’s most intact and best preserved ancient limestone mosaics. Experts are dating the work from 215-300 AD.

Whales: Giants of the Deep comes from the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. The Whale exhibition gives viewers an in-depth look at  the complex relationship between whales and the people of the South Pacific.

With a bit of imagination, we can ride in the belly of the Whale all the way over to the Mediterranean Basin, where the Lod Mosaic was discovered in Israel. The Lod Mosaic shows us how Roman merchant ships navigated the stormy seas, and clearly this was a dangerous proposition requiring protection from mythical sea monsters. Archaeologists suggest that the lower panel of the Lod Mosaic may have been a tribute or an ex-voto, commissioned as an an expression of gratitude for surviving a shipwreck.

Romans also had an intimate relationship with the sea, and at the time the Lod was made the shipping trade was at its zenith. Wealthy merchants sailed fleets trading everything from the Roman fish sauce, called garum,  to exotic animals, olive oil, and wine.

Both the ‘Whales of the Deep’ and the ‘Natural Wonder’ exhibits will give museum-visitors an inside view of  how our lives have been inextricably linked with these giants of the deep.

And anyway, where else can you climb right into a life-sized whale heart? 

I will be demonstrating mosaic methods at the  ARTIST -AT -WORK DEMONSTRATION

SATURDAY DEC. 10,  11 AM to 3 PM

at the FIELD MUSEUM, main floor.

Drop by as I demonstrate the classical hammer and hardie cutting technique and work on a reproduction from the LOD. Display will include examples of various methods and materials highlighting the ancient roots or “grammar” of mosaic making. Finished artworks, works in progress, tools, books and a resource hand-out will be featured.


 Hmmm…is it Really a Whale?   SOMETHING’S FISHY: MAN EATING GROUPER? 

Patterns of the universe, reflected in the pavement’s geometry THE LOD MOSAIC: UNIVERSE IN A FLOOR

 Ditka does some serious mosaic excavation LIONS AND TIGERS AND DA BEARS

MOSAIC DEMONSTRATIONS at the Legion of Honor, working with the Lod.

Mosaic Cultural Heritage, To Lift or not to Lift:  ROMAN MOSAIC: SHOULD IT STAY OR SHOULD IT GO?


Natural Wonders: A Roman Mosaic from Lod Israel


Time Out Chicago review of Whales: Giants of the Deep

Whales: Giants of the Deep, Field Museum




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