ANDREA SALA at work on one of his unusually composed mosaics.

The Biennial mosaic festival in Ravenna easily met the high expectations established two years ago with the inaugural event. An array of presentations and exhibitions delighted both the mosaic avid and "innocents" from near and far.   Ravenna is a treasury of byzantine era basilicas, baptistries and palaces, adorned with the patterning, gold and complex figurative imagery of the 4th through 12th centuries. It is a center for instruction in the chemistry, restoration and replication of ancient work, but perhaps more important, it is one of the world's epicenters for contemporary exploration of mosaic art. The festival provides an exquisite opportunity to explore the intersection of these various of mosaic activity. 

This slideshow gives a sampling from among the diverse offerings.

Artist SAMANTHA HOLMES was one of many international artists showing in a variety of venues: religious, municipal and commercial. In this brief interview, she speaks about her discovery of the mosaic medium and her decision to move to Ravenna to study and explore its contemporary potential within an ancient context. She describes the inspiration and her selection of materials in creating two pieces, "Mobile Home (Moscow)" and "Rain (Greenpoint.)" Her "Unspoken 10.22.10 - 07.07.11" won an award for its unusual technique and use of materials. Read more on Mosaic Art Now.