Mosaic artist Krysia Haag opened her Athens home to visitors on Saturday, Oct. 18 to benefit WUGA. The event was part of the “Artists in Residence” series, an ongoing fundraiser for the station.
Haag specializes in mosaics, but also works in other media, including photography and painting. Her colorful mosaics enliven a number of public spaces in Athens, including the exterior of Daily Groceries on Prince Avenue. In 2010, the artist created “Day and Night Tree of Life” mosaics in collaboration with fifth-grade art students at Chase Street School.
The grounds of Haag’s home are filled with her happy mosaics, many of which feature her favorite colors, turquoise and cobalt. As visitors entered her property through a side garden on Saturday, they were immediately struck by her “Kalta Minara”, a garden sculpture based on the “Kalta Minori”, a minaret in Uzbekistan. The original, 17 times larger in scale than Haag’s, inspired the artist to be a mosaicist, though she has only seen the minaret through photographs. Haag is frequently inspired by her many travels, as well as those done from her armchair. The works she creates reflect this and speak a universal language.
The inside of the artist’s home is as much of a visual feast as her garden. Her collections include beautiful ethnic textiles, often gathered on her trips, and an eclectic selection of paintings by artists including Andy Cherewick and Philip Juras. They are put together with an artist’s eye and every wall and corner is a carefully crafted composition. The art works and furnishings all seem to belong with the artist’s own mosaic work, reflecting the bold and saturated colors and the staccato rhythms of the glass and ceramic fragments. Naturally, Haag has put her mark on many of the home’s surfaces with her tile work, from fireplaces to the beautiful bathroom floor. The artist’s beloved blues abound throughout the home.
Marti’s at Midday created an abundance of appetizers for the event and Shiraz continues to provide wine; their generosity helps to contribute to the casual and intimate feel of this popular fundraiser.
Retired UGA art professor Judy McWillie spoke outside in the garden midway through the event. About 100 people gathered around the soft spoken McWillie as she discussed the work of Krysia Haag, emphasizing her work with the community, and the yard art of artists throughout the south. McWillie is the co-author of No Space Hidden: The Spirit of African American Yardwork and has spent a lifetime exploring the yards of folk artists like Howard Finster and St. EOM. As she spoke, trains were heard frequently in the background and leaves rustled pleasantly in the early fall breeze.
As a young photography student, Haag took a class in folk art with McWillie. There she learned about bottle art and the African American blue diamond motif, which she has since used in her own work. The motif was visible in the very center of an 18-foot-wide mosaic of a mountainscape that spans the width of her new studio, visible behind Haag as she answered questions. The artist had finished the monumental work only five minutes before the fundraiser began.
The next “Artist in Residence” event will take place at the home of landscape painter Philip Juras in November. For more information, visit wuga.org.