Who We Are
Curiosity and the motivation to listen and learn are some of the values nurtured at CMS by a treasured mix of faculty, staff and engaged students who create our welcoming and unified community. The Chicago Mosaic School is a space where learning skills and techniques happen through inquiry and collaboration with our outstanding instructors and visiting artists. The school provides an art curriculum for you to build knowledge and approaches to create meaningful work and forge friendships along the way.
Since we opened our doors in 2005, CMS has grown into a thriving arts education center and community oriented organization that provides opportunities to individuals and partnerships locally, nationally, and around the world. It is through our unique artists, scholars, and enthusiasts that we have became an important source for energetic and interactive knowledge of mosaic arts. The beauty of discovering visual language and a community to support a creative journey is what The Chicago Mosaic School is all about. We welcome you here with open arms.
The Chicago Mosaic School is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the fine art of mosaics and providing opportunities for comprehensive study with an academic, materially oriented approach to art education. We aim to increase awareness and appreciation for the ancient art form, and create an open community for learning, sharing expertise, and developing the medium within a contemporary context.
The Chicago Mosaic School (CMS) was founded in early 2005 by artist Karen Ami, and it quickly became the premier center of education for Mosaic Arts in the United States. Before shifting her focus toward mosaics in her practice, Karen had a long career as a working artist in painting and ceramics, earning her BFA from the Boston Museum School and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of the Chicago. In 1993, she took an interest in mosaics and found there were few resources in the United States for artists interested in a serious study of the medium. After several years of independent research and practice, she sought formal instruction in Italy. She connected with established and trained mosaic artists from around the world and invited them to come to Chicago to educate a new generation of students in the United States. With her background as a ceramicist and formulation in traditional mosaic technique, Ami was inspired by her love of mosaics to establish a hub for learning in Chicago, where expertise of ancient methodology and application could mingle with a contemporary perspective and aesthetic experimentation.
Starting as an intimate 8-person studio class in in early 2000s, the school grew organically into a multifaceted organization offering over 150 classes and workshops a year to thousands of students. Now in our 15th year, the school gives artists, teachers, and enthusiasts of all levels a place to explore all facets of the medium. CMS classes range from introductory courses for beginners to master workshops for those with an advanced fine art background. The school is committed to providing a nurturing and creative environment within our wonderful facility that houses our classrooms, artist studios, and library.
The faculty has also grown from a single instructor to a team of over twenty five, comprised of year-round core and adjunct faculty and a robust visiting artist program. The core instructors of CMS are professionally trained, practicing artists offering the best instruction for all levels of students and our visiting artists are some of the world’s most inﬂuential contemporary mosaicists from Italy, England, France, Japan and Australia, teaching exclusively with CMS in the United States. The influence of our faculty’s incredible talent and insight can be seen in the success of our students: a new generation of mosaic artists whose work is recognized throughout the world.
Beyond our curriculum, the school preserves and promotes Mosaic Art through school programs, community partnerships, teacher training programs, and creating sustainable Mosaic Art for public or commercial spaces. We also serve as an educational source for lectures, tours, demonstrations and presentations from local, national, and international artists.
CMS has grown from a passionate vision into an internationally recognized, award-winning center for Mosaic Art education. With an outstanding faculty, visiting artists from around the world, and the first Certification Program in Mosaic Arts, The Chicago Mosaic School is a thriving creative community that offers a Mosaic art education that is unlike any other program in the world.