Mosaic by Gwen Valrie

I am a retired Graphic Designer/Art Director, who spends all of my time exploring art media. I am in my stained glass mosaic stage now, and I don’t see an end in sight. I love stained glass! I find the rich variety of colors very exciting to work with.  

I took a stained, leaded glass workshop and hated it, but still loved the glass. I hated the soldering and hated using the large pieces of glass that did not allow small details.  So, I started to create mosaic because it gave me a platform to use the glass and create art that is very subtle in color variations and very detailed. I am a self-taught glass mosaic artist.  

Two of the pieces that I have submitted are from my Gustav Klimt collection. I love the art of Gustav Klimt and created “Black Women in Gold,” influenced by Klimt’s painting of Adele Bloc-Bauer nicknamed, “Woman in Gold.” My 30”x36” piece is an original design of two black women, under an umbrella, in the SUN (the golden background). This piece includes hand cut stained glass, crystals, fused glass pieces and lots of gold glass.

The second piece is “Black Gold Knight.” This piece is heavily influenced by Gustav Klimt and was created in honor of my son, who is a Detroit Police Officer. This 18”x30” piece was created with stained glass, mother-of-pearl tiles, gold mirror glass and Orsoni 24k gold glass from Italy.  

My third submission is a black and white mosaic portrait of my daughter. This piece shows the subtle shades of colored glass available in any hue in this case black & gray. This monochromatic piece is 18”x22”.  

Mosaic by Gwen Valrie

What continues to motivate you?

The work (play) gives me JOY. I always have three or four ideas for new mosaics that I would like to create. Since I feel so free as an artist, I can be prolific. So, I think that my freedom to create what I want, when I want motivates me. Also, creating glass mosaic –– the beauty of the glass motivates me.  

Who or what influences your practice?

Actually, I’m influenced by my many years as Graphic Designer and Art Director for a large corporation where my entire life was a series of schedules and deadlines. I am now free to create anything that I want to create, on my schedule and without a deadline. The freedom is intoxicating.   

How would you describe the mood of your work?

I hope that all of my work is uplifting, positive, and beautiful. I work hard to keep my energy positive. For instance, when honoring my son, who is a Detroit Police Detective during this dark, controversial time around policing in our country, my mosaic, “Black Gold Knight” is light, bright, and beautiful. To me, it speaks of who he is as a person.

What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an artist?

I think that creating art that other people want you to create, on their timeline has to be the most challenging. Those were the challenges that I experienced as a Graphic Designer/Art Director. But now, I have set myself free. Staying true to myself and making sure that I create art that flows directly from me represents that freedom.

Tell us about something from your creative life that you are particularly proud of.

I am very proud of my career as a corporate Graphic Designer and Art Director. I started in GM at 20 years old. I was there through the 70s, 80s, and 90s and became a successful art director creating annual stockholder reports, quarterly reports, corporate monthly newsletters, special reports, posters, logos, etc. I had over 350 million pieces of print design to my credit, at a time when black women were not doing those things. But one of the things that I am most proud of is being asked to create the Rosa Parks Commemorative Obituary.

Mosaic by Gwen Valrie