The new exhibition “Aphrodite and the Gods of Love” at the Getty Villa will be enhanced by eight studio art workshops this spring. The Villa provides excellent opportunities to learn to create art inspired by antiquities. Vanessa Somers Vreeland, mosaics workshop instructor at the Getty Villa, has shown many students there how. She also shows students how art can become a highly rewarding career.
After starting her career as an artist with conventional fine art painting, Vanessa Somers experimented with painting on bulletproof glass and then discovered her talent for mosaics. She arranged special training with Vatican Mosaic Studio. Professor Giandomenico Spinolathe. This experience also led Professor Giandomenico Spinola, the Vatican’s expert on mosaics, to wirte about her work currently being exhibited in America.
Vatican training enabled mastery of the traditional ancient arts of cut marble and solid glass mosaic composition. Then Vanessa Somers experimented with her own fused glass mosaic technique that combines ancient design patterns with modern technology. A favorite subject is orchids, whose beauty comes to life with dazzling reflections of their intricate compositions.
Following studies with Professor Anselmi for 5 years in the traditional ancient art of cut marble and glass mosaic technique, Vanessa Somers experimented with a fused glass mosaic technique that combines the traditional mosaic assemblage with modern art and a heated glass technique.
Somers’ career illustrates the allure of a career in art for many who seek exotic travel and adventure. Following her own training in Rome, she taught at John Cabot University, which maintains a campus near the Villa Corsini art museum in the arts-rich Trastavere district of the Eternal City. The University’s Vice Chairman of the Board, Ambassador Frederick Vreeland, proposed and their romance became a great artistic partnership. The couple co-authored “Key to Rome,” a culture and history guide published by the Getty Museum Press. They now live partly in Morocco, where a major international archeological exploration was sparked by Somers’ discovery of a spa and bathing complex built in the eleventh century for the Almoravid emperors. The historic site is at the original Almoravid capital, twenty miles from modern Marrakech.
In addition to teaching at the Getty Villa and John Cabot University, Somers also teaches at The Corning Museum Studio, Penland School of Crafts, and the Columbia Museum of Art. The program at the Education Studio of the Getty Villa introduces the ancient reverse technique of making mosaics. Students create an original design inspired by the Getty Villa collection of mosaics. It’s hard work — the main tool is actually called a “hardie.” Somers inspires art students to keep on working hard with her motto “Sensational Art is the Place to Start.”