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Artist of the Month
March 2014

Artist of the Month

Emma Varga

Born in Yugoslavia, Emma Varga settled in Australia over 20 years ago where she gradually developed her now signature "multiple layers fusing" technique, in which she creates three-dimensional images inside large transparent glass objects. Her current work focuses on environmental concerns- raising awareness by visually communicating both the beauty and fragility of our natural environment. She is represented by Tansey Contemporary in Santa Fe, NM. 

Click on each photo to the right for a full picture.

Emma Varga

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

Ever since my student years, I was attracted (and traveled) to lonely, remote places, untouched by man: high mountains in Europe, the far north of Norway, Colorado.  In recent years, escalating danger of global warming and melting of Arctic ice prompted me to not only visit the coldest, frozen places, but also to do something about their protection. I decided to contribute by creating glass objects to raise awareness. 

About Emma Varga

Emma Varga was born in Ada, Yugoslavia, in 1952.   She graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1975 earning a bachelor of arts degree in visual & applied art, with majors in glass design and ceramic sculpture. Her work has been heavily influenced all along by her environment and experiences, which have, ironically, served as the catalyst for both dramatic change (in tone and feel), and stabilization (in process, style and focus) of her work over the past 20 years. Political unrest within her home country led the artist to immigrate to Australia in 1995, a move which enabled the true blossoming of her work and the development of both her own signature process and style.

The interplay between how and why she makes her work is truly dynamic and beautiful: Behind each of her works, which communicate the simple and captivating beauty of nature so succinctly, is an incredibly complex and labor intensive process.

To make each object, she cuts thousands of tiny glass elements from clear and transparent colored glass sheets and combines them with glass frits and stringers. The sculptural glass objects are made from 20–400 thin transparent glass layers; glass mosaic elements, colored frits and stringers are assembled on each sheet, according to a complicated three-dimensional plan that she envisions ahead of time. These are then fused together in stages. It takes two weeks to fire and slowly cool down large sculptural works, then a further two weeks to grind and polish all of the surfaces to perfection. Only then it is finally possible to see the inside; all the fine details and veil-like structures floating in the sea of clear glass.

This work is truly a labor of love for Varga, and her recent travels and research have further solidified her devotion to raising awareness surrounding environmental concerns. By preserving the beauty of nature through her work, Varga contributes to the global conversation in her own personal and powerful way.  About her 2013 body of work entitled “Antarctica”, Varga explained: “I was completely mesmerized by the beauty and serenity of the frozen continent… a vast variety of ice surfaces, turquoise and blue shining from the depth of ice through translucent white surface; clarity of ocean revealing submerged parts of icebergs; a rare appearance of sky crystals.”

Varga is currently producing a new body of work for 2014 to be featured in two exhibitions at Tansey Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico (formerly Jane Sauer Gallery, sold to Mike and Jennifer Tansey in 2013).  This year’s new work will again aim to raise awareness about human impact on the environment through communicating - and preserving - its natural beauty.  “Biodiversity and Human Impact on the Environment”, a group exhibition featuring new work from Emma Varga opens at Tansey Contemporary on May 23rd.  “Apocalypse Reversed”, a solo exhibition featuring new work from Emma Varga will open at Tansey Contemporary on August 15th and Varga will speak at the gallery on Saturday, August 16th to members of the New Mexico Glass Alliance about her work.  Tansey Contemporary will also exhibit a selection of recent work from Emma at Art + Design New York, May 8-11 in New York City.

Her work can be found in the collections of the PowerHouse Museum, Sydney; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Art Glass Collection, Wagga Wagga, Australia; Australian Art Trust, Melbourne; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA; The Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade, Serbia; Glass Museum, Ebeltoft, Denmark; The Glassgallerie Immenhausen, Germany; The Interglass Symposium Collection, Czech Republic; and numerous major private collections in Australia, USA, Europe, Asia and Africa.

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Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Tansey Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico, for providing the materials for the Artist of the Month.

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Our Mission

The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to further the development and appreciation of art made from glass.

The Alliance informs collectors, critics and curators by encouraging and supporting museum exhibitions, university glass departments and specialized teaching programs, regional collector groups, visits to private collections, and public seminars.