About my Art

Sculptural mosaic art allows me to design works that create a new way of seeing animals taken to their essence and pure spirit. The designs flow from the raw grace of unaltered animal skulls.

I believe everyone is struck with wonder when viewing wild animals in their natural habitat. We experience a truth that this is the animal’s domain, they are in control and in their element – we are simply observers. Many of the animals that I include have been endangered in the past but that is no surprise. The world’s wilderness areas have decreased from 66% in 1937 to 35% in 2020. Only by knowing and appreciating the wild animals of our world can we truly become cognizant of our obligation to protect their habitats. Through my art I hope to raise an appreciation for the dignity and beauty of a few of these beings.

Animal skulls for mosaics.
Kate Hanley working on skull in studio.

There is a lack of symmetry in all skulls, and I incorporate that variability, resulting in shifting designs from one side of the skull to the other. Taking anywhere from 30 hours for a small piece to over 100 hours for a large skull, the intricacies of placing one bead at a time becomes a moving meditation. The uniqueness of each animal is expressed through color, movement, and design. The design, which may be symmetrical in one area and more abstract in another, flows and follows the hills and valleys of the animal. 

Integrating nontraditional elements into the design allows for the creation of a unique voice for the animal that is at the heart of the piece. Elements can range from stained glass, ceramics and smalti to elements that blend with the piece such as beads, buttons, shells, vintage jewelry, and other decorative objects.

The animals in my art are found mainly in the United States and Africa but may also be found in other areas of the world. All skulls are ethically sourced and have been purchased from licensed vendors with appropriate permits. Showing the beauty of the skulls through my art can raise interest and advocacy for the protection of the habitat that allows these animals to live and enrich our world.