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story.lead_photo.caption The completed mosaic behind the altar. The top of the alcove holds a painting of the Madonna and Child. Photo by Cary Jenkins of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A mosaic made of thousands of hand-cut Murano glass tiles fills the walls of an alcove in Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church's sanctuary.

The new artwork — centered with an image of Christ with St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, St. James the First Bishop of Jerusalem and St. Basil the Great — was installed in April in time for the Greek Orthodox Easter on April 28. It will be available for public viewing Friday-Sunday during the International Greek Food Festival.

Gallery: Annunciation Mosaic

The technique used to make and install the glass tile — some of which is backed with gold — is the same as it was 1,000 years ago. "We use the same system they used in Ravenna and Venice," says Stephano Giuliani, a manager at the Italian studio Poli Mosaici, which created and installed the new mosaic. Both cities in Italy are famous for mosaics in their churches, some dating back to the fifth century and designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

An artist makes a life-size drawing of the desired image, and glass tiles are cut to create the mosaic. It took three months to create and prepare the mosaic to be shipped to the church and about two weeks to install.

"Every item we make is unique, is different," Giuliani says. "When we make another icon like this, it's not exactly the same because the person that cuts the pieces for the face, they do not make the same cut, it is impossible. These pieces, we cut one-by-one, by hand. So what we make here in Little Rock, we may make a similar mosaic, but not the same. Every one is unique."

Style on 05/14/2019

Print Headline: During Little Rock's Greek Food Festival, visitors can see new mosaic featuring Christ in church's sanctuary

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