With her creation “Blue Heron” in the background, Michelle Sider ​​uses a tool to  cut Italian  smalti glass for a future mosaic.

With her creation “Blue Heron” in the background, Michelle Sider ​​uses a tool to cut Italian smalti glass for a future mosaic.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Huntington Woods artist excited to be featured in ArtPrize

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 23, 2021


HUNTINGTON WOODS — A resident of Huntington Woods will have a glass mosaic featured in the ArtPrize festival.

Michelle Sider’s mosaic, titled “Blue Heron,” was chosen to be included in this year’s ArtPrize, located in Grand Rapids. The piece can be found​​ at Uccello’s Ristorante in the city’s downtown from Sept. 16 to Oct. 3.

Sider, a resident of Huntington Woods for more than 30 years, previously worked in clinical psychology and as a high school art teacher. She retired to become a full-time artist, which she has been for six years. Originally, Sider was a painter before she switched to working with glass mosaics.

“Blue Heron” was commissioned by a customer. Sider said that for every piece, she needs to find some way to be inspired and have a spark to create her art.

“I’ve gotten really excited because, living in Michigan my whole life, I’ve been surrounded by water,” she said. “I’m very passionate about water and also about protecting our water … making sure that the marshes that help clean the waterways are protected, and it helps to have healthy birds and fish and amphibians and us.”

Sider began work on her creation by taking photos of blue herons and reflections along the water’s edge. She used those photos to draw a composition of the bird that appeared in the mosaic.

After completing a drawing, Sider lays color onto her art to get an idea of the color scheme she wants. She follows that process by doing a full acrylic painting and purchasing specific types of materials for the mosaic from all over the world, such as carved stone, 24-karat gold and marble.

“In that piece I wanted to really show the idea of the fleetingness of nature and the fragility of our relationship with environment and the water, and the fleeting aspect of it — the water — I really wanted to show the water rippling and moving,” she said. “I chose certain glass … that has certain types of swirls and textures in the glass. I knew it’d be really cool to incorporate it into it.”

Sider started dabbling in art when she was a kid. She cited her aunt, Donna Costello, as a mentor who helped encourage her art.

Costello, a former participant in ArtPrize, said Sider used to come to her home a lot as a child, where Costello kept art supplies. Costello said her niece had an eye for color like nobody she’s ever seen at an early age, and while Costello is happy she helped Sider grow as an artist, Costello would never take credit for Sider’s talent.

“I’m knocked out by her mosaics and by her process, because she starts with actually creating a work of art on a flat surface, and then she starts to move into the pieces of glass, and her choice of glass itself is a whole story because she finds these pieces from around the world, and some of them have dimensionality to them — they have ripples in them,” she said. “She’s gonna do really well because that ‘Blue Heron’ is outstanding. You see all the great detail in it.”

Sider said she’s really excited to be participating in ArtPrize, as it’s the first time she’s had the confidence to present her work to the festival.

“This is the first time this piece is being seen in person publicly,” she said. “I’m just thrilled because the light — because (the mosaic is) 3D and because it’s made of glass, it’s a whole other ballgame when you see it in person. The colors actually change as the light changes throughout the day, and as you walk from right to left and you look at the piece, the glass will go from purple to green to orange. It really changes and fluctuates. You can’t see that in a photo.”