Excitement was in the air during the Sammamish Farmers Market on June 1. It was the first day of Pride Month, and in one of the tents was a community mosaic booth hosted by Cheryl Smith, 55, a local mosaic artist.
Smith is the sole female business owner of Cheryl Smith Mosaics, where she not only designs large mosaic installations but also hosts weekly art classes in her studio. She has been a mosaic artist for 15 years, prior to which she was a muralist.
It was always her dream to create an installation of the Pride progress flag along with members of the Sammamish community.
“This flag is about respect and human dignity and unconditional love, and I wanted to bring that to the city,” Smith said.
Two years ago, she received copyright permission from Daniel Quasar, the designer of the progress flag, and waited for an opportunity to put it to use. The opportunity presented itself when the Sammamish Arts Commission sent out a call for artists stating that they would be providing grants. Smith applied for and received a grant shortly thereafter.
She worked with various donors and volunteers to organize the event. The entire process of creating the mosaic takes about 35 hours, from laying the glass onto sticky mesh, then gluing it to a board, and finally grouting it in black.
The morning before the farmers market, an astonishing 100 people came to city hall to watch then deputy mayor, now mayor, Kali Clark raise the Pride flag along with LGBTQ youth. The high level of excitement that morning continued through the afternoon during the farmers market.
Through the event, over 300 people laid out 1200 pieces of glass onto sticky mesh.
When asked about the atmosphere of the event, Smith said the farmers market “was such a safe place for people of all ages and identities to come to,” where they could “be their true, authentic selves.”
She and her 13 volunteers were able to have some emotional conversations with parents, youth, and also older generations who came to learn more about the LGBTQ community. Alongside Eastside Pride representatives, they used their own resources to educate this intergenerational audience on topics such as terminology and connecting with other people. Even young children, who were enticed by the colorful glass, were able to take in this unique learning experience.
“I was able to explain to a 5 year old that this is a flag that represents all the people in the world that really love each other,” Smith said.
The mosaic flag will be hung in city hall, with an official unveiling this summer.