‘Maybe there is hope’: Tipp City artist’s glass mosaic wall honors life during the pandemic

Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF
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Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF

An art project that began to camouflage a bare wall has turned into a tribute to life and loss experienced during the pandemic.

Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City glass artist, recently completed a year-long project mosaicking her garage — the biggest artwork she’s ever created.

“As COVID got worse it turned into a COVID wall,” she said. “If it wasn’t for COVID there would not be a wall.”

Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Caption
Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Alvarado, who has worked with glass for more than 30 years, pieced together thousands of bits of colored fragments to tell a story.

“Art gives me inner peace. You’re in the zone and time flies. I think that calms me and gives me purpose.”

She began her narrative with glass in shades of red to form three poppies — a tribute to her children.

Alvarado was born and raised in the Netherlands and created Dutch tulips to represent her parents and siblings. The closed petals of one tulip remind her of a brother who died when she was a child. Two tall glowing sunflowers stand in for she and her husband.

Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Caption
Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF

A rock, positioned between the tulips and sunflowers, is the barrier caused by the pandemic, separating her from family living in Europe, she said.

When deaths in the United States from the coronavirus reached 150,000, she created a field of 150 daisies — one for every 1,000 lives lost. Today each daisy symbolizes more than 4,000 deaths.

“Living through the pandemic I think changed all of us,” she said. “You can’t hide anything in art. It all comes from inside.”

During the year she worked on the wall, Alvarado’s mother and two close friends died. Three flying black birds honor them.

Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Caption
Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Messages written in glass are found throughout the mural. One of them reads, “The times changed — I changed with them.”

Alvarado will speak about “Covid Wall” as one of the presenters at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held at the Levitt Pavilion and begin at 7:30 p.m.

Photographs of the mosaic wall posted on social media have garnered grateful responses, Alvarado said.

“Maybe there is a message in there, maybe there is hope,” she said. “We’re all in this together.”

Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Caption
Guustie Alvarado, a Tipp City artist, spent a year creating “Covid Wall,” a glass mosaic on her garage. The artwork is filled with images meaningful to her life experience. Alvarado will be a presenter at PechaKucha Night Dayton on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event will be held downtown at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m. LISA POWELL / STAFF

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

PechaKucha Night Dayton, the first event since February 2020, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 1 at the Levitt Pavilion and begins at 7:30 p.m.

PechaKucha is an idea-sharing event where 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each while the speaker provides narration.

Among the presenters that have been announced are Danny “Travado” Rodgriguez, “Is that Breakdance Fighting?”; Guustie Alvarado, “My Covid Wall”; Shawn Green, “Type Drawer Collections”; Charlie Campbell, “Webster Street is Booming” and NaAsiaha Simon, “Selfie Museum.”

Glass artist Guustie Alvarado’s artwork can be found in The Hotel Gallery, 109 E. Main St. in Tipp City, Twisted Sisters in Indianapolis, Etsy and on her website.