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‘Terra Incognita — Mosaic Explorations’ on display at Gallery at Penn College

July 8, 2012
By LAURA KNAUR Sun-Gazette Correspondent , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

"I learned to make mosaics out of college because nobody is teaching them in college in this country," Yulia Hanansen said. "You either have to take workshops or learn from someone else."

Hanansen is a second-generation mosaic artist. Born in Russia, she learned to create mosaics from her parents as a child.

"I grew up in a family of artists, so I learned from them," she said.

Hanansen has lived in several countries around the world and, currently, she is living in Baltimore, Md.

Along with mosaic artists Jean Ann Dabb, Karen Kettering Dimit, Cynthia Fisher and Rachel Sager Lynch, Hanansen will be featured in The Gallery at Penn College's latest show, "Terra Incognita." The meet-the-artists reception will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and an artist talk will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Hanansen began teaching printmaking in 1995 and began teaching mosaics in 2001. She began her teaching career as a student teacher, then as a co-instructor and today, she continues teaching printmaking and drawing at the university level.

As of 2001, she began creating them professionally and opened up her own business, the Mosaic Sphere Studio. She teaches workshops on how to make mosaics because of the void at the collegiate level regarding the art of mosaic-making.

Her workshops range for people of all experience levels, beginner to professional.

"I want to show how good mosaics can be and the quality is wonderful," Hanansen said. "You can have an idea in mind and execute it using mosaics and it is going to be just beautiful."

Her mosaic works range from small-scale to large-scale pieces and may be utilized in both public and private spaces. Mosaics can be made-to-order or purchased as ready-made.

"It is very time consuming, but the results are very rewarding," she said.

Her mosaics range from installations, to back-splashes, to wall hangings.

"Organization is very important for my studio because I prefer to know where things are and it is crucial that I am able to find the right color. Everything has to be put in order, so all I have to do is pull them out and start working," she said.

"Before I moved to Baltimore, Maryland, I used to have a walk-in studio space with a gallery space and classrooms, but now my studio is home-based so it's much smaller," she said. "I used to teach out of my studio but switched to touring other workshops and studios around the country."

Hanansen said that she loves teaching.

"I really do enjoy teaching and it is something that I do with great passion," she said. "I love interacting with students and I believe that every single person who is making art has room for improvement, so no matter what level they start on, I try to take them higher by the end of the workshop, so they feel like they have learned something," she said.

Now, she is traveling the East Coast for the appropriately named "2012 Atlantic Coast Tour," teaching the art of creating mosaics. She will host a beginner's mosaic workshop at Penn College from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday. To register for the class, call 320-2445 or email Penn College Gallery at

"I draw my inspirations from various sources - a lot of my personal work I get my inspiration from scientific discovery, beautiful pictures of the cosmos and looking at the work of different artists such as Vincent Van Gogh," she said. "I love the process of creating mosaics, laying out the tiles and working with colors."

Her most recent body of work was inspired by starscapes, which took about four years to complete. The series is created from hand-cut stained- glass pieces in the shape of brush strokes.

"I combined still images of the cosmos to produce the dynamic effect of the layered glass, which created the illusion of movement as the viewer moves around the piece," she said. "It gives a more 3-D appearance," she said. This body of work will be featured at The Gallery at Penn College. The name of the exhibition at Penn College, "Terra Incognita," means "unknown land."

"This work is about the personality of the stars on a cosmic scale compared to the human personalities because stars and humans have a lot in common.

"The cosmos are an unknown area for exploration; every day we are finding out something new about the cosmos," Hanansen said.

The artist has won many awards for her printmaking artwork and her mosaics, including "Best in Show" prize in the 2011s Mosaic Arts International for her piece "Jupiter: Great Red Spot." Her works also have been featured in galleries around the world.

Hanansen also is working with Ali Mirsky on a collaborative multi-panel installation for a Jewish Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

For more information about the "Terra Incognita" exhibition, visit



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