"just because it's broken, doesn't mean it's not beautiful": ashlea brockway and brokenart mosaics

The Brockway family, 2013
I want to tell you about an exciting venture: an opportunity to help make art more accessible for all, to help a low-income woman start her own business, and to help the family of an Iraq War resister, all at the same time. I hope you'll read about BrokenArt Mosaics and share Ashlea Brockway's crowd-funding page.

Wmtc readers may remember my posts about the Brockway family. Jeremy Brockway is an Iraq War veteran with severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Denied medical leave and unable to return to combat, Jeremy and his family came to Canada. Wmtc and Joy of Sox helped raise funds for the Brockways to adopt a service dog. I've written about the Brockways several times: here, here, and here, among other posts.

You already know my feelings about war resisters and people who struggle with mental illness. But in my zeal to share those stories, I may have shortchanged the real hero of the Brockway story, the head of the family, Ashlea Brockway.

I admire Ashlea Brockway tremendously. Ashlea is raising three young children on her own, and also caring for her disabled husband, who cannot work, and who can help with the kids only in a very limited way. She is a patient, loving, meticulous mother. More than anything, though, Ashlea is a woman of action.

BrokenArt Mosaic magnet
Wherever she directs her energies, Ashlea is focused on others. I've never heard Ashlea speak about her husband's situation without raising awareness of the broader issue, the shameful way veterans are treated after military service. When she accessed the services of a local food bank, she became first a volunteer, and then an outspoken advocate for both the families who use social services and the workers who provide the services. Now Ashlea is using her own creative talents to make art and creativity more accessible for all.

Ashlea is starting her own art-focused business, called BrokenArt Mosaics. She recently told the Port Welland Tribune:
“Even though my life is not how I wanted it to be, it's still beautiful.”

That concept is mirrored in her mosaics, she says.

“Broken things most people throw away, but you can pick up the pieces and make something beautiful.”

Brockway first realized she had a passion for mosaics in high school and has since used the art form as a means of stress relief.

“It's therapeutic,” she says, calling it a challenge to try and find pieces that fit together harmoniously.
Grab a kit, make some art

It's a relaxing experience she wants to share with the community.

It's an activity people of all ages, with all levels of crafting experience, can take on, she says.

Brockway's focus is on ensuring her kits are accessible to people of all income levels.

“It's about making art accessible. Art is often out of the price range of everyday people.”

She not only sells kits but also plans to eventually host mosaic-making workshops.

Her long-term goal is to have a storefront to call her own.
Ashlea's BrokenArt mosaics are very reminiscent of Gaudi's trencadis mosaics that I fell in love with last year in Barcelona. Gaudi used shards of broken, discarded tiles, "upcycling" trash into art well ahead of the trend. Ashlea's art is all about searching the scrap heap to find the beauty within.

You can help fund Ashlea's venture through her GoFundMe campaign, and you can visit the BrokenArt Mosaic Facebook page. Whether or not you donate, I hope you will check out the site, and share it with your own network.

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