I have always made art. From the time I can first remember I have been drawing painting working with my hands. My Grandfather would bring me into his woodshop and let me make little sculptures teaching me how to use a wide variety of tools.
In grade school through the end of high school my family made sure I had the support that I needed by continuously enrolling me in some sort of extracurricular art activity. Most of my weekends and summers were taken up with art, primarily focused on painting, drawing, and jewelry fabrication.
I discovered glass while studying to be a silversmith at the Surrey Institute of Art, and once I did there was no looking back. This was a true eureka moment. It started when I was attending college in England when my friend Russ from the glass program handed me a blowpipe, had me gather glass out of the furnace, and blow my first bubble. After that I was obsessed.
Artist. The very word conjures up an image. Can you form in your mind your picture of an artist? If you turned and described that artist to the person behind you what would they say? They would have a different description. Every person has different ideas and images much like the artists themselves. Artists are as varied as the art that they produce. There is one common thread though when you talk to others about artists. Almost everyone is sympathetic for artists. It is the sympathy of knowing that art, to this person, is not a choice. It is who they are. So what drives me as an artist?
Love. It makes the world go ‘round, right? However, this is a love of the intimate connection that art, as a whole, has to the ancient past. Before there was farming and settlements there was art. People needed connections with the past; with each other; with nature. Nature inspires me. Occurring right next to us, every day normally not even noticed by humanity in its race to get where it is going, is nature. Just continually renewing itself. Exploring nature and its essence of living things; how that essence of non-human living things is connected to humanity. Everything is a part of every other thing and experiencing that eternal connection is beautiful.
My art is about connections.
Glass is my favorite material because it has a memory. It is able to be transparent, translucent, and opaque simultaneously in a single piece. It is sculpting with light and shadow in a dynamic and intimate way that is unlike any other medium. I believe that it is magic, true alchemy in the vein of Newton and Flemmel, using all the elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit) to create something that didn’t exist until the moment of its creation.
When I am blowing a piece of glass, I am connecting with piece as I create them. There is an intimate and individual connection to it that truly transforms that bowl, that vase into a symbolic icon. The process of blowing glass allows me to transform that symbolic icon into something different, something deeper.
Then when I am carving the cameo it adds another connection layering the art as a whole.
First I blow a glass vessel. Then I carve through layers of colored glass on that vessel to create an image. I do all the work by hand because that is the only way that I have found that creates really beautiful textures and details that softly blend to create the feeling that I love of ancient Roman and then 19th century English cameo glass.
I prefer to carve a cameo entirely by hand because I have found that by carving on the vessel from the beginning I am able to have a better sense of the piece as a whole. This process gives the finished piece a much softer feel and an organic nature to the cameo instead of hard edges and a static nature. My hands and my eyes, and ultimately my mind, are my favorite tools because with them I can explore this world, I can pick up and use many different tools in ways that are not necessarily what their purpose was intended.
My cameos are my way of exploring and touching things that I find beautiful. I use texture to create tactile sensations that excite me. I look for materials that seem very different so that I can show and explore their similarities and highlight the intrinsic beauty of the oft discarded, overlooked, ordinary, and the everyday. When a cameo turns out really well the vessel and image become a single piece where both are so well balanced that one could not be whole without the other. The shape of the vessel give shape to the image and the image gives life to the vessel. Then, when someone handles the piece; to touch and feel the art, another connection is formed with the artwork and the viewer; with the viewer and the artist. I could go on about links to the past, links to the environment, links to humanity and how all of it is a link to the spiritual, but it really boils down to the fact that I love exploring how everything is connected to everything.
I returned to Vermont and sought out a hot shop where I could intern while attending college classes in Burlington. My goal was to learn the fundamental techniques of glassblowing, but also the business of being a successful glass artist. Meanwhile, the academic environment fed my interests in mythology, symbolism, comparative religion, and history. All of these areas strongly influence the themes and perspectives that are in my artwork today.
I lived in Louisville , Kentucky for four years and helped open The Flame Run Glassblowing Studio and Gallery. There I had the opportunity to work with nationally known artists including Brook White, Paul Nelson, John Miller, and Rod Hart. I have worked with Vermont glass artists including Matt Seasholtz, Glenn Ziemke, Rich Arentzen, and Michael Egan.
To continue my art education I have regularly attended master classes at the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass. I have had the privilege to learn from Pino Signoretto, Bill Gudenrath, Alex Brand, Denise Stillwaggon Leone, Karen Willenbrink-Johnson and Helen Millard.