The technique of mosaic was used in the ancient world to illuminate and illustrate, celebrate and commemorate. Gleaming bits of glass embedded in mortar adorned walls, entryways, floors and ceilings. From the gilded expanse of a Ravenna cathedral to the intimacy of a Pompeian portrait, the mosaic tesserae patiently tell their story through and arduous colored glass vocabulary. Veruska Vagen follows this tradition in her work with a technique she calls dot de verre.
Originally trained as a painter, Veruska Vagen imbues her glass art with a cogent sense of color theory and two-dimensional form. After an initial foray into watercolor and oil painting, Vagen began to experiment with other media, and her innovative work with glass enamel soon brought her to the preeminent Pilchuck Glass School – where she won a full scholarship. Over the course of her studies at Pilchuck and subsequent work with the William Morris Studio, Vagen developed her unique process of dot de verre – a combination of pointillist aesthetics and mosaic technique that results in exquisitely articulated imagery.
To create each work, Vagen fastens thousands of tiny dots of glass to a foundation glass tile. Through a painstaking process of assemblage and revision, Vagen configures each piece to replicate a desired portrait – often chosen from the art historical canon to reflect Vagen’s acute interest in the changing perception of the human visage. The work is then meticulously kiln fired, allowing the dots to fuse with the base tile while simultaneously fire-polishing their surface. Upon completion, the dots are affixed to a black glass plate and framed.
Vagen’s distinctive portraits have earned her acclaim throughout the United States and abroad. Her work can be found in several prestigious public and private collections, including the Sphere and Bead Museum in Tokyo, Japan.