Versea Bourdaghs was born on April 25, 1941 in
Stillwater, Minnesota. One of ten children, she moved
with her family to northern California in 1942, only to
return to Stillwater after the end of World War II. Her
father Earl Heaney was a truck farmer and had a salvage
business, while her mother Minnette Heaney was a
Versea graduated from Stillwater High School in 1959,
and in 1960 she married Ronald Bourdaghs of Bayport,
Minnesota. They had two children, Michael and
Jeannine, and moved to St. Paul in 1969, where Versea
would live the rest of her life. Versea and Ron divorced
in the 1970s.
In the 1970s and 80s, Versea produced a number of
artworks, mostly acrylic and oil paintings. She went back
to school and earned her degree from the University of
Minnesota. In the early 1990s, she enrolled in a Masters
of Liberal Arts graduate program at Hamline University,
and it was around this time that she began pursuing her
interest in art more seriously. Her masters thesis explored
the philosophy of hope and included a series of collages.
A 1994 one-woman retrospective at the Hamline
University Fine Arts Gallery was the first public exhibition
of her work.
Community of Hope #36 (2001)
Watercolor, 29" by 22"
Center for Victims of Torture Collection,
St. Paul, Minnesota
Heaven and Nature Sing (2000)
Watercolor and pastel, 12" by 10"
Versea traveled often and widely, but a 1997
church-group trip to rural Guatemala had a special impact
on her life. After it, she changed her primary medium to
watercolors and began exploring the use of brilliant
colors. It was these works, with their depictions of
dream-like townscapes, ascending spirit figures, stars and
moons, fish and birds, that won her recognition and
Her paintings were exhibited in many art centers and
museums, including the Phipps Center for the Arts
(Hudson, WI), the Arts in Harmony Show (Elk River,
MN), and the Visual Arts Center (Punta Gorda, FL). Her
paintings were featured in the Syracuse Cultural Workers'
Women Artists Datebooks for 2002 and 2004. Versea's
works were also frequently exhibited at private art galleries
and churches throughout the Twin Cities, and she was a
regular participant in the St. Paul Art Crawl.
She died on October 4, 2008, shortly after being
diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
Versea Bourdaghs, mid 1990s
Public works and commissioned memorial works by
Versea Bourdaghs are installed at the following sites:
"Web of Life" (watercolor, 2003), Liberal
Catholic Church (Stockholm, Wisconsin)
"Jerusalem Cross" (mixed media, 1997),
Church of the Way Presbyterian Church
"Community of Hope #36" (Watercolor, 2001),
Center for Victims of Torture (St. Paul, MN)
"Unconditional Love" and "Compassion"
(mixed media, 1998), Oak Grove Presbyterian
Church (Bloomington, MN)
"Web of Life" (Mixed media, 1998), First
Presbyterian Church (Itaska, IL)
The Art of Hope