... the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
In 2002 Hagen offered to mentor me for my BFA final project if I would help him to assemble in Photoshop some compositional ideas. What I thought would be a three- or four-month project turned into an enriching 12-year long collaboration.
Today [March 27, 2014], sadly, our collaboration has come to an end.
Hagen had an impeccable sense of compositional design and a rare gift for discerned markmaking. He was a perfectionist who was frustrated with the limitations of any one medium. He spent decades collecting materials and experimenting with various media and tools, from graphite on marble grounds to ink washes in microwaves. He could recognize beauty from any source, no matter how humble or celebrated. Hagen's goal from his youth was, like Kurt Schwitters', to "combine all forms of art into complete artistic unity".
While a young man, Hagen spent years in a frustrating and agonizing search for this seeming unattainable ideal of artistic unity. His perceived failures left him humbled and empty--like a vacuum. This filling and emptying process prepared Hagen for an experience which would act as a beacon for the rest of his life: his mind was opened and he saw a vision of Messianic Light: Ruakh Elohim.
Hagen spent his career making art and mentoring students towards that Vision. In the end, everything he has collected, curated, created and composed are only fragments: fragments which humbly point towards a much grander wholeness.
Hagen was my mentor, my collaborator, and my best friend. His influence and vision will continue through those of us who loved him and learned from him. I will miss him terribly.
- Jared Harlow, 2014-03-27