Many people can say Sarah McLaughlin’s music helped them overcome a difficult time, such as a divorce.
But only Kelowna’s Suzanne McEwan can say divorce brought her to build a likeness of Sarah McLaughlin. And she’s certain to be the only one to make it past the roadies and meet McLaughlin to show her a giant tiled mosaic of the star.
“I could tell they thought it was quite nice,” said McEwan, when asked to explain how she wrangled a photo of herself giving the piece to the singer.
Several years back, McEwan started building mosaics to help occupy her mind as she struggled through a difficult divorce. Her first was a hockey image, not so far off the effort that now hangs in the Manhattan Point restaurant. Then she started doing faces.
She started with Oprah and then the image of B.C.’s singing superstar followed.
Her picture of Oprah and Maya D’Angelou never made it past the show’s screeners, but when she ventured into McLaughlin’s concert with her mosaic of McLaughlin in hand, her luck changed.
“I saw the bus there and noticed there was someone outside,” she said. “He said he didn’t know how to get it to her, but right when he said that a guy came out and he said, “Ask him.”
She asked. She waited. And before she knew it she was being escorted in to meet the singer in the greenroom before she went on stage.
It was a coup for the artist whose small business, Famously Tiled, has seen her earn up to $2,000 for a commission. From Obama to Jesus, she’s smashed enough ceramic in her day to build a whole new stone wall of pieces—though her favourites are the hockey images.
The one she did for the Rockets has special meaning because her now stepson, Jamie McEwan, played for the team, making it to captain.
Each work takes a couple of months. She starts by finding an image, photocopying it onto clear overhead sheets and then projecting it onto a wall so she can draw the image onto a piece of board.
“I like to put my own flair into it, not stick exactly to the picture,” she said.
McEwan is still doing commissions and can be contacted at email@example.com. Half of the proceeds from her work go to International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that works to free victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and violence. She picked the charity after listening to a talk at her church.