Celebrated Mt. Airy mosaic artist goes international

by Len Lear
Posted 10/5/23

It is no secret in the local arts community that Mt. Airy resident Jessica Gorlin Liddell is a spectacularly talented mosaic artist.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Celebrated Mt. Airy mosaic artist goes international


It is no secret in the local arts community that Mt. Airy resident Jessica Gorlin Liddell is a spectacularly talented mosaic artist who has completed over 45 public art projects, commissions, collaborative installations and artist residencies over the last 20 years throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Florida.

But now the recognition is international.

Liddell, who has owned Bella Mosaic Art on Germantown Ave. for 15 years, was recently one of just a few artists selected out of countless applicants for the prestigious month long “Nocefresca Artist Residency” in Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean known for its ancient and mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives. She departed for Europe on Sept. 18, with her art residency scheduled to begin in October.

Originally from California, where she trained at the prestigious California College of Art & Design, Liddell moved to the Philadelphia area 23 years ago when her husband, Andy Liddell, relocated back to the Mt. Airy neighborhood where he grew up. Andy, a house painter by trade, has done extensive interior and exterior painting work on homes throughout Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy over the years.

In addition to her large-scale mosaic installations in schools, houses of worship and public and private buildings, Liddell and her team at Bella Mosaic Art have also created hundreds of mosaic and fused glass pieces of all sizes for parks, hospitals, restaurants, shops, office buildings, community gardens and more throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.

Some of her most recent mosaic creations include stunning glass walls at the Peter Camiel and Valley Forge rest stops along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as well as an expansive work unveiled this year at Beth Tikvah B’nai Jeshurun synagogue in Erdenheim.

“We were so fortunate to find Jessica to guide us through this process,” said BTBB President Alana Dunoff. “She helped us craft the vision for the project, including encouraging our religious school children to create drawings capturing what 'community' means to them, and our entire community participated in hands-on tile-making and glazing workshops.”

Ultimately, they used more than 70 of the children’s drawings to produce the mosaic’s final design. 

“Not only is Jessica a fabulous artist, she is also super-fun to work alongside and made the entire experience a pleasure,” Dunoff added. “The final product is a fabulous enhancement to our community, something we believe every member can look at and say that 'I, my child, or my grandchild was a part of this legacy piece of art.'”

Liddell first discovered her passion for clay and ceramic arts back in high school. After being inspired by the beautiful mosaics she saw on a trip to Barcelona, Spain, she began intensively studying the art form after college and has been working in mosaics since 1997.

In recent years, Liddell has fabricated and installed stunning mosaic walls and other custom installations for New York Presbyterian Hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the 5th & Market SEPTA subway station, Lovett Memorial Library in Mt. Airy, historic Frankford Park, the annual Philadelphia Flower Show, several local breweries, elementary and middle schools, indie bookstores, community gardens, Drexel University and more. She just finished up a huge project with several hundred students at East Vincent Elementary School in Spring City, Chester County. 

“I love collaborating on communal projects," Liddell said. "I love working with volunteers who have no previous training.”

Earlier this year, Liddell was also chosen out of over 250 applicants to design and fabricate a large custom mosaic for the cafeteria at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She fabricates all her mosaic pieces start-to-finish in her Mt. Airy studio before transporting and installing the finished works on site. Her largest single mosaic art installation to date measures 19 feet long, while a towering mosaic on the side of a building in Ardmore, though not as long, stretches multiple stories high and is credited by local residents with saving the historic building from demolition.

For more on Liddell's diverse mosaic art portfolio, visit bellamosaic.com.