See How This Artist Relives Her Travels Through Stained-Glass

Kasia Polkowska
Photography courtesy of Kasia Polkowska

Text by Hannah Jones

Kasia Polkowska might have been raised as a city girl, but she has a deep love for and strong connection to the outdoors. Born in Poland and raised in suburban New Jersey, Kasia continued her city-hopping to Brooklyn, New York, for college before she discovered her true love for nature. “When I went to study abroad in Australia . . . that’s when I really started noticing the landscape,” she recalls. “I found it a little bit foreign because I grew up in the suburbs in New Jersey, and I found it very fascinating.”

Mountain spring stained glass mosaic
Photography courtesy of Kasia Polkowska

Though that fascination didn’t immediately translate into her current mosaic landscape art, she eventually found herself drawn to nature, in more ways than one. After finishing school, she took a job as a mosaic artist for a firm in Manhattan, which led her to use stained glass in her personal creative time. From there, it flowed naturally.

“Each piece that I make isn’t just a pretty picture,” Kasia says. “I went out there and explored that landscape.” As an avid hiker and camper, she photographs her favorite landscapes and then sketches the images and starts cutting and placing the glass to make her creation. Nature is the greatest inspiration of her works, and creating her mosaics, she says, is her way of reliving her favorite experiences.

Yellowstone River Mosaic
Photography courtesy of Kasia Polkowska

Depending on the size and complexity, a single work can take Kasia between two weeks and two months to complete. Kasia notes that, unlike other mosaic artists, she doesn’t immediately glue each piece of glass as she works. Instead, she first lays out tape and arranges the individual pieces, then glues the pieces together once she’s pleased with the composition. “It’s a more fluid, intuitive way of working rather than cutting one piece, putting glue on it, [and] gluing it down,” she explains. “[That technique] interrupts the creative work.”

Boulder Cathedral sky
Photography courtesy of Kasia Polkowska

Kasia’s goal is to use her art as a reminder to explore and enjoy the beauty around us. “I hope that it brings a little more awareness of just how beautiful our country is,” she says. “When somebody sees the intricate work and how hard I worked to convey this particular place, I hope that it inspires [them] to do a little more traveling [and] a little more exploring and to respect our natural lands because they are so precious.”