Mosaic Project — Smither Park, Houston

Nigro Nagas Panox850

Nāga (Thai: พญานาค) are mythical serpent-like creatures believed to live in Thailand’s Mekong river and estuaries. In China, the nāga are equated with dragons. The Buddhist nāga are generally depicted as a giant cobra, usually with a single head but sometimes with many. Nāga is also the Sanskrit word for a deity, entity, or being which takes the form of a very great snake. Sculptures of these creatures adorn the hand railings I have seen while traveling throughout Thailand. They are most often situated as guardians to many of the Thai temples, and are my inspiration for building these mosaic dragon-like serpent-birds that appear to be devouring each other as they slink across the length of the Smither Park swing set structures. The four Nāgas wrap around each of the swing set pillars and function as guardians of the park ruling over the four directions of the compass while representing the four elements – earth, air, fire and water.

Concept and design by Lisa Nigro, with initial assistance by mosaic artist Steven Bernard Jones. Commissioned by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art and the Smither family. Special thanks go to Daltile, Brazos ContractorsLaNova Tile and Jaclyn at ProSource for their tile donations. Also thank you to the volunteers who worked beside me: Sammy Hassan, Kristina Kolosova, and Leo Vivenza.

Naga redesign comp

Top: Winning Commission Drawing. Paint markers & ink on paper, 2015. Bottom: Re-design to accommodate safety issues.

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3/4 View, Fall 2017.

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2 naga angle 850


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Working on dragon half-round bellies inside studio at Project Row Houses, Third Ward, Houston Winter 2016.

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Sammy holding up the dragon belly for fit test.

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Panoramic view, late Summer 2016.

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Just a few scales for the dragon bellies.

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First dragon head up, the female... August 2016.

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Dragon wings up, July 2016.  

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Steve Jones and Lisa at work in the outdoor studio at Orange Show Center for Visionary Art on Munger St. Summer 2016.