Diana D’Agostino is a queer artist who brings to life beautiful mosaic works all to support and promote the LGBTQ+ community. Through her business, Patria Mosaic Design, she is able to bring her food based mosaics to the masses. Each piece is beautifully designed and I was able to ask her some questions about her work and what inspires her to create.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and how you identify?
My name is Diana D’Agostino, and I’m from Pittsburgh, PA. I identify as queer and am a mixed-media/mosaic artist and the owner of Patria Mosaic Designs. When I’m not playing with food, I enjoy cooking it and relaxing with my pups.
You are the owner of Patria Mosaic Design, can you tell me what led you to create this business and how you became involved in mosaic work?
I am very passionate about positive, accurate representation and acceptance for people from different backgrounds, so I’ve always wanted to find a way to create a space where people could see themselves celebrated, and hopefully broaden the dialogue about identity and visibility. I became involved in mosaic work purely by chance; the name of my business, “Patria,” comes from a Spanish word that means “homeland,” and was originally intended to be a food truck that emphasized the concept of “home” by focusing on a rotating menu of global comfort foods. Due to some health-related restrictions, I ended up transitioning my business from food to food-based art and developed Patria Mosaic Designs, which uses specially-selected, edible materials and the idea of food as an excellent way of unifying people to create vibrant, unique portraits of the global and LGBTQ+ communities, and shift perspectives about what defines “home” from where someone lives to how they live most authentically.
Did you always want to be an artist? If so, were there creators that inspired you?
Becoming an artist was sort of an unexpected perk of the things that were happening in my life when I created my business a few years ago; I studied Social and Public Policy (and can write way too much about any given topic as a result now) in school, which I think informed a lot of my passion about the need for positive representation, but I didn’t start out wanting to be an artist. I don’t know if any specific artist inspires my work overall, but Keith Haring and Frida Kahlo’s use of art as a form of activism, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community, definitely inspires me as both an activist and an artist.
Your Life is Sweet collection is something truly unique, could you share more about this collection?
It is very important to me to promote (and hopefully contribute to) positive representation wherever possible, but my Life is Sweet collection was especially motivated by a strong desire to give back to my community, as an artist and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The collection is made up of original fanart and designs that showcase the many unique and beautiful ways individuals in the queer community often identify, as well as the shows that celebrate them, and is intended to create a space where viewers, particularly those in environments where open expression of pride isn’t always a reality, can see themselves reflected and validated in each mosaic. I also hope that the pieces in the Life is Sweet collection will encourage allies and others to grow in their understanding of and support for people who may look, love, or identify differently from themselves.
You also have pieces that are part of a “For My Community” series, what can you tell me about those works?
The For My Community series is essentially made up of the pieces in my Life is Sweet collection which specifically focus on identities within the LGBTQ+ community. These mosaics differ slightly from my other works, in that the materials I use for each design are based on the colours of the Pride flag for that specific identity, while the image and quote are meant to provide visibility to viewers and empower those who identify similarly to the target identity for the piece or may be questioning how they present themselves to the world, by highlighting real-world examples where these identities exist and are able to thrive. One of my more recent pieces in the series, Pursuit of Happiness, uses a quote by Laverne Cox which describes transgender pride and identity and the image of a phoenix to represent the concept of strength and “rebirth,” from an individual’s previous identity into their true self. I currently have pieces which represent non-binary, pan, trans, and gay/lesbian identities, but am in the process of expanding the series to include bi, asexual, and other identities as well.
What motivates you to create these mosaics?
I want people to know that who they are and how they identify or express their identity, whether that identity relates to their country of origin, cultural heritage, sexual orientation, or gender identity, is valid and that they are not alone. I also think that it is important for people to see themselves represented in a positive, accurate way, and that they can appreciate art that is designed for them in a way that is safest and most appropriate for their surroundings. Finally, I hope that, by creating a space where people can feel seen and proud of their identities, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community, my mosaics will help make it easier to expand the dialogue about identity, visibility, and acceptance.
There is also a non-profit element to your projects, could you expand on this?
I believe in the importance of giving back and wanted to make this a focus of my business when I started it two years ago. There are two organizations here in Pittsburgh that do a lot of really excellent work providing support and empowerment for members of the LGBTQ+ community and survivors of domestic violence, the PERSAD Center and the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh; both causes are very important to me, so 10% of every sale made through my website or as a commissioned work is directed to these two organizations. Give a little, get a lot, right?
Where can our readers see your work and keep up with you online?
You can see all my work and commission custom mosaics to be made (with a 15% discount for all first-time commission orders) on my website, https://patria-pgh.com, or purchase my designs through my online store, https://patriaprintshop.com. I also have a Patreon set up where supporters can have stickers, keychains, and other perks sent to them each month, https://www.patreon.com/patriapgh, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram, @patriapgh.