Artist Communicates Through Mosaic Sculptures
“Haute Couture Fairy” by Amy Haid Spence was on display at The Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine this past summer, one of only 10 artists' pieces chosen for the main atrium.
Amy Haid Spence uses her stained-glass mosaic sculptures to communicate what she sees to the world.
Spence was born in Longview then the family moved around a bit during her childhood.
“My parents moved back here when I was in junior high,” she says. “Life moved me away as an adult yet I always dreamed of moving back home to East Texas.”
Since 2010, she’s been living in a log home with her art studio looking out into the piney woods near Winnsboro.
She’s always felt like an artist, she said, and her travels helped define her.
“I feel like I knew as a child I was an artist,” she says, “but it took me some time to own that path for myself. When I lived in the Panhandle of West Texas I saw bright beautiful art and glass. We often went into towns like Santa Fe and Taos, and I loved all the vibrant jewelry and mosaics there. I’ve heard it said that whatever you were doing at the age of eight tells a lot about what you want to become, and I spent this time sketching anything and everything.”
Art wasn’t a big part of her family, except for her grandfather who began writing in his later years.
“He was a poet. After retiring as president of a bank, he started publishing books of his poetry, and he was writing his fifth book when he passed away. But other than Papa, I really had no other artists in my family so again, it took me a bit to own that part of me.”
Part of claiming her authentic self came when she began singing.
“I truly believe art is my first love but singing is also a love of mine, and I especially loved having the opportunity to tour and perform when I was younger,” she says. “One of my most memorable nights in singing was when I soloed for the Little Rock Symphony — it was completely magical.”
While touring Europe as a soloist at just 20 years old, she began to see mosaics in their churches. Although she didn’t yet think of herself as a stained-glass artist, a seed was planted.
Spence worked in several art mediums for a while and when her son was six months old, she decided to try her hand at mosaics. Her first project was a six-foot-long dining room table.
“I was always known for biting off more than I could chew,” she says. But she completed it. “And the rest is history. I was hooked. My son is now 19 years old. He worked in mosaics with me from a young age and I call him my little glass baby because of it.”
Besides mosaics, Spence creates different types of art including small garden stones, memorial horses using the actual hair from horses who have passed away, and different kinds of jewelry. She is most well known for her large art pieces.
Her greatest achievement so far, she says, is a life-size piece currently on exhibit at Bear Creek Smokehouse in Marshall through April 2020.
“My large steer, ‘Maverick,’ was the beginning of not only a piece that I loved doing, but a true walk into my personal style. I had the vision for him long before I completed him, and he created a tremendous relationship with The Gaylord Texan.”
The Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine chooses 10 artists each year for their summer exhibit, and Maverick was chosen in 2017 as one featured in the main atrium of the resort where over 300,000 people could see him.
Spence’s “Haute Couture Fairy,” her red mosaic version of a fairy, was selected this past summer by The Gaylord as part of their Peter Pan theme.
The time and effort that goes into creating these large pieces is extensive.
“I learned to sculpt in polystyrene, where I apply a layer of fiberglass, a layer of concrete or epoxy and then apply the glass piece by piece,” Spence explains. “So for instance, on Maverick, he is about 15,000 pieces of hand-cut glass, but to fit each piece well, you have to cut down each one most likely five to 10 per piece, which can accumulate up to 150,000 cuts for the final sculpture.”
It took her more than 500 hours to create Maverick and she says it’s healthy for her.
“I think God gave me this art form to slow my mind down and keep me in the present moment as it’s quite meditative for me,” she says.
Her most recent piece is a zebra named “Mistari Maridadi,“ which means beautiful stripes in Swahili. It contains 9,715 pieces of hand-cut stained glass and took more than 337 hours of work and is now with a private collector.
Spence attends various art shows. “I spend a lot of time in the studio but I truly love meeting people at my shows. I love to hear their journey and what dreams they have. I usually am looking up new things to be inspired by.” She is always on the lookout for new art forms and is currently learning about working with cold wax painting.
Always open to new creative projects, Spence has a long list of things she wants to accomplish.
“I have two children’s books I have written and I want to illustrate them in glass. It will be a long project because each piece will need to be in large format to gain the detail in each page I want to achieve.”
She’s also starting a series of large Native American War Horse-style sculptures, inspired by her dad’s love of horses.
“My Dad was a horse breeder and we spent a lot of time in horse barns and competitions, which made me love the silhouette of the horse and its majestic qualities. They represent a freedom to me and confidence.”
She’s hoping one day to speak for a TEDx Talk and wants to create a series of work for museums.
“Girl empowerment” is a theme that runs through many of her activities and she is working to develop resources for young women to grow in their identity and self worth.
“I feel like by starting out in life unsure of my true voice, I now work hard to protect that part of me and I have a very strong passion for helping others find their voice and keep it. As a child I don’t think I was actually unsure of my voice, but I let others sway me into not honoring those beliefs.”
Spence mentors children and holds art camps each year. She also leads a mastermind group in Tyler where other artists join in a Skype call to discuss questions about their art and network with other artists.
No matter what she’s involved in on any given day, Spence says she’s always thinking about art and that makes her smile.
Visit www.amyhaidspencestudio.com to learn more.