Island artist creates colorful mosaic skulls
As a young girl, Rachel Stokes was fascinated by the colors of light that came through the stained-glass windows while she sat in church.
“I loved the way the sun’s rays reflected on my mom’s wedding ring, making a prism effect,” Stokes said. “Each window told a story, and sometimes I would make up my own stories to coincide with the picture in the window.”
Color, patterns and textures always intrigued Stokes. She even found a way to make art from crayons that had melted in a hot car. After taking a stained-glass class 12 years ago, she found that she liked mosaics because the art form was more forgiving.
Today, Stokes divides her time between her Galveston and Pasadena homes, mixing the mediums of mosaics and fused glass, often incorporating paint.
Stokes is known for her skull mosaics. She’s fascinated with their shape, curves and indentations, she said.
Henry was her first creation.
“People loved him,” Stokes said. “Plus, I found it fun to make art out of something most consider morbid. When I’m creating a skull, I talk to it and create a story around it, which enables me to come up with a name.”
Stokes can’t remember when she didn’t like skulls.
“I have skull aprons, skull mugs, skull earrings and other things with skulls,” she said. “But I create my skull mosaics with joy and happiness and don’t put any evil twists on them.”
“Mr. Moe Hawk” is covered in tiny squares of cut glass in colors of green, blue, gold and red, sporting a gold tooth and a white mohawk made from sea urchin spines.
“I knew he would have a mohawk the minute I saw him,” said Stokes, who thinks Moe is probably an old biker dude.
“Queen Bee,” which is her newest, is covered in honeycomb-shaped glass with a crown of red roses and a few bees buzzing about her head. “Awesome Blossom” is a blue-eyed, iridescent gal with a headband of colorful flowers. “Sugar Daddy,” which is in progress, doesn’t have his personality yet, but Stokes has some ideas in mind. “Green Eyed Envy” was her most difficult skull because of the horns, green snake eyes and a mask made of clay and mosaics. Stokes decides the skulls’ genders as she makes them.
Stokes also turns guitars into mosaics and has created thousands of fused glass pocket crosses she sends to our troops. She volunteers at The Bridge over Troubled Waters in Pasadena, where she teaches art classes for women, and the Galveston Art League, where she teaches both women and children. She has donated her work to many Galveston nonprofit fundraisers and has created commissioned pieces for clients across the United States and England. Her work is on display at Affaire d’art in Galveston.
Stokes’ dream project?
“I want to mosaic a car,” she said.