I pushed the boundaries of modern mosaic art with original design, technique and materials. My mosaics are individual Memoirs of the things I’ve seen and loved in my life – or just imagined. I am inspired by nature and family. I am partial to trees, birds and Whimsical cats. But regardless of the subject, bold color and shape used in a poignant and beautiful style is the intention.
Some of the my mosaics are more fun than serious, some are more real than expressionistic. Being able to move freely between themes is a skill that adds artistic distinction to my work. Ultimately each Mosaic is about challenging risk. The risk is to create art that will endure for civilizations to come. Another risk is wasting valuable materials on irreversible poor choices.
Valerie earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University, and pursued professional modern dance and choreography for several years before becoming assistant administrator of the New York City Art commission.
In 1999, she returned to an early passion for mosaic art, and in 2004 established her Studio in Cedar Key Florida. She has been given a Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the awards at juried art shows, and has been hosted in one-woman gallery exhibits.
A member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists, V. Bretl is an active participant in the growing community of Mosaic artists, and opened Mosaic Arts, another Gallery featuring her work in Bristol, Rhode Island. The gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays 12 to 5 p.m. or by appointment.
Prices for the Mosaic of V. Bretl range from $500 to $2,000 for small, $3000 to $4000 for medium, and $5000 to $8000 for large.
As a mosaic expressionist, I am fascinated by the beauty of the natural world and its harmonious creatures. I am especially drawn to subjects that cannot be captured with a camera.
My process is called “mud to mud”, meaning that it begins with clay ”mud” and comes full circle to finish with grout “mud”. Along the way, clay is rolled into tiles and bisque fired. Later, they are glazed with natural elements and high-fired to 2300 degrees. A simple line drawing is transferred to concrete board with graphite paper, leaving flexibility for intuitive laying of the hand-nipped tiles, taking advantage of the shapes that organically occur.
I find designs at the place where an image in the mind intersects with a feeling in the heart. My challenge is to make this point of intersection connect authentically with the viewer, rather than expressing something about myself. The finished mosaic is a physical representation of natural energy that flows through the earthy materials into our humanity, like organic food for our eyes.
Over the years, I have earned a master of fine arts degree and worked as a professional dancer and choreographer, before becoming assistant administrator of the New York City Art Commission.
Now, I own a mosaic studio in Cedar Key, Florida where I work with custom ceramics, and a gallery in Bristol, Rhode Island where my materials are stone and smalti.
Primal screams and crashing dishes were the sounds that accompanied my first mosaics. The shards were then pieced together into the form of human figures jumping on a blank background. This method continued for as long as the set of plates in four colors lasted. the ceramic shards, like shattered lives, had become lively colored figures and I had found the beginning of my Mosaic voice.
The wordless voices wanted to talk about the life force that connects Mankind and makes us human; the life force of Echoes throughout the vast beauty of Nature and makes us humble. In a whisper, it was saying that experience of poignant and paradoxical realities can be found in fleeting visual moments. The challenge was to use the Mosaic medium to convey the vitality and grace of these moments.
I unpacked old books and sketch pads from the time when I earned a MFA degree, collected use dishes, and bought nippers and grout. The work change from process art to design based compositions. Each new Mosaic taught me something about technique or method that was applied to the next work, and slowly my style developed.
While working on one Mosaic, I would think about the design for the one to follow. Ideas came from looking at what the colorful dishes offered. But the plates became limited and involved rationing colors and compromising designs. Working with dishes was ingrained into me, and the idea of changing materials seemed like giving up on myself. After 10 years of crunching plates, I made my last Mosaic in the material, and gave away the collection of dishes.
I relocated my home and Studio from Rhode Island to a Florida island called Cedar Key. Just outside of town is Cedar Key Pottery owned by ceramic artist and Alchemist, Henry Gernhardt. We developed a friendship that led to the creation of my Mosaic material: handmade stoneware and Porcelain art tiles with custom glazes. These distinctive and unpredictable tiles are a large part of my inspiration. Over time, I opened a gallery /studio in Bristol, Rhode Island, where I spend Summers and enjoy the challenge of working with natural stone tiles.
My creative voice speaks without Whispering, always looking for a thematic challenge that shifts from the figure to landscape, from still life to Portraiture. After successful changes of materials and locations, my Mosaic voice continues to seek visual moments that speak to our shared life force.