I find the stained glass technique to be the most effective medium for expressing my ideas. It is an art form and process laden with traditional associations- churches, kitsch and hobby art – and is therefore ripe for distortion. My work is largely inspired by sarcasm and contradiction: tough and fragile, spontaneous and contrived, naivety and experience. I believe these themes reveal the humor and complexity of experience and perception, and therefore become an honest representation of life.
My “fracture” sculptures capture the random, the spontaneous, and the destructive. This work is created by breaking panes of glass either underfoot, or by objects that are dropped from pulleys. The shards and broken pieces are then soldered back together, preserving the unpredictable pattern of how the glass shattered. In attempting to reconfigure the original shape of the glass, I in fact help create its altered state. Repairing the glass captures the moment when the glass was broken and for me, is a reflection of how experiences alter and shape us.
Sign is based on a traditional transom window that would be found in a residence. The pink and purple colors, bevels, and script lettering suggest a warm message, but the reality is aggressive and bold.
The Land of Golden Opportunity at first glance resembles a child-like fantasy of unicorns and rainbows, but upon closer inspection exposes a scene which could be interpreted as pornography or a wildlife television parody. It is rooted in the art of the American West, faux wood paneling, kitsch and ideas of American “Utopia”.
I am inspired by artists who dare to take intellectual, emotional and political risks. Historically, the artists I find most influential are Eva Hesse, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and Joseph Beuys. These artists used elements of chance, redefined the common and the everyday, broke from the established art of the day, made fun of themselves, and were aware that an individual’s actions and ideas can influence the world. Within the contemporary art world, the Chinese “cynical realists” are inspiring examples of artists who use humour to express frustration. I feel the current wave of sarcasm in the art world reflects a sense of personal political impotence and is also a reaction to Western decadence.
This commission was for a woman in Ann Arbor, MI. She sent me images of seed pods from Northern Michigan, where she spent time as a child and continues to visit. She wanted the seed pods to be the subject for the window. She also sent me photos of her kitchen window, and we discussed visibility and colors. She wanted to have clear glass in sections, so she could continue to connect with neighbors from her kitchen window. We corresponded by email and phone to solidify colors and design that would work well with her kitchen.
Once the design was solidified, I found glass that worked in the color palette, and began building. I choose some antique glass, mouth blown glass, and fusible glass that had great color. The combo really made the design pop. I sent updated photos as I worked, so she could be included in the process.
Once it was complete, I crated it up and shipped it off with fingers crossed. It arrived in tact and all is well! So exciting to see it in its intended spot in the kitchen window.
It is 27 inches square. Shown below: top, in the crate. Next, full image. Last installed!
Recently, I have been exploring with mosaics. It is a welcome break from the structure of leaded or copper foil glass art. I find it more spontaneous and loose, playful and free. I am enjoying this exploration. These are woodland animals. I think of them as animal portraits. Racoon is magnolia, owl is starry night. soon there will be fox and hare.
Friends! I painted my studio and added trim details. New plants have arrived as studio mates. It is a calm and special place to be. I am working on new mosaics that I will post soon.
I am excited about a connection I have made here in California with a local environmental organization, Napa Vision 2050. They exist to preserve local values and to protect our water resources, forests, rural communities, agriculture and open space. Now they will receive a $5 donation from each sale of my new fused glass panels!
I am grateful to be connected to a cause that contributes to the greater good of my community. I am a studio artist. I become more balanced by spending time in my studio for contemplation and the creative process. I refuse to be isolated and removed from the world, however. These small nests are a simple act that allows me to connect, contribute, reach out, stay educated, work toward something I believe in.
In these times that are confusing, disheartening and fearful, I have decided to act more intentionally and make choices that I believe in. I believe in teaching my children to be kind and accepting of diverse peoples and cultures. I believe in striving for a clean natural world. I believe in working toward the change I desire for myself, friends and children.
I was inspired to make these small panels because I wanted to make something comforting and calm. I wanted to build in a spontaneous way and focus my attention on a peaceful image. These were the results! Various images of bird’s nests in tree branches! These small glass panels are 4 inches x 4 inches, and can hang by suction cup (provided) in the window, or by nail in the wall. They are handmade by me, and are $45. The intention is to make them affordable for gifts, so the designs are repeated, with slight variation. They are fused glass which means they are melted in the kiln. They come with a colored bamboo fiber cord and brass ring for hanging. And as I mentioned, $5 from each sale goes to preserving our natural world! Interested in having a nest for your home? See all designs available: Click here
I am excited about these! They are small (4 inch square) fused glass panels to hang in a window or against a wall. They are spontaneous and sweet. They are secured with a silk cord and brass ring. They are repeats to keep cost down. They are the perfect gift, the perfect home cosy addition. They are $45 to allow for ease of pocketbook. A portion of each sale is donated to a local environmental group. They are for sale at my etsy online store.
The last time I went to Burning Man was in 2002. I went with my close friend Anna Erlewine. We drove there from Wisconsin. We swam in rivers. We ate ramen. We thought we saw a mountain lion. We spent 10 days in the salt flats. We helped build the temple. We rode on double decker art cars and borrowed motorcycles. We slept in a tent I made out of canvas and maple saplings. It was a circus type tent with circular windows and a skylight. We wore boots. We wore cowboy hats. We painted our skin. We watched things burn. We drank watery beer and our hair felt like wigs from the salty sandy land. The art that erupted from the land and human hands was spectacular. And watching the city build itself up during the days we were there was incredible. And sitting way out in the darkness of night and looking back at the lights was soothing. A city of art and music created in the middle of flat, wild land and dark night skies. Wow.
Quill Hyde made these amazing horses (Acavallo Art Installation for Burning Man) out of steel that people could sit on. I made stained glass for one of the horses. I used bottles and lenses, and mirror from the 60s. The cheeks had fire bursts. What an honor to be included in this project!
I made these jewelry display cases for Donna Karan’s Urban Zen store in Hollywood. I used brass framing which I changed black with a patina. They are simple, strong and earthy stylish. They are not my design, but I am still excited about working with this store!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALEXA GRAY
In 2006, I lived in New York. I had the great opportunity to build a commission for Deity Nightclub in Brooklyn. They wanted goddesses with an element of erotica. The windows were 4 feet by 6 feet and there were 6 of them. The owners agreed on the drawings and said, “You don’t have to run all the glass samples by me. Just do what you want.” This was a dream commission.
The goddesses I chose were “Shekinah- Jewish goddess Tree of Life” and “Nut- Egyptian Goddess of the Night Sky.” (pronounced Noot) Shekinah is portrayed as young, with braids in her hair. She is also an element of the land, and rooted. Shekinah has a green flame on her forehead, a kind of third eye. The tree extends to each side of Shekinah.
Nut is portrayed as older with gray dreadlocks and reclining on the clouds. She is an element of the sky and boundless. The stars are opaque and reflect off their surface. They have a sparkle with interior lights, and a metallic finish. There are clouds that extend on each side of Nut.
This window was installed in a burnt-out and abandoned building in Portland, OR in 2008. I used some of the salvaged glass from the burnt out building. The glass was melted by the fire, covered in graffiti, and broken. I also used french mouth blown glass- the pinks and red. I wanted to combine dirty, discarded glass with the finest and most expensive glass, to show the value and interest in each. I installed it, and it lasted several weeks before someone uninstalled it for their own home. (which was a fine outcome for me).
It was fun to put stained glass in a completely unexpected location, and highlight the decaying beauty of a building like this. I love the sunlight on the broken safety glass panels. Directly inspired by graffiti artists, it was an act of sharing my work with passersby. An urban surprise art element. A softness of colored light and attention to life giving qualities in contrast to cement and decay and barbed wire. I am so appreciative of urban places- the diversity of ideas and peoples. I am also appreciative of the quiet places in a city. These are quite often the decaying building neighborhoods- Warehouses, vacant lots. Of course, I love urban parks and woods, too. Both have their calm.
The image on the glass is the word “Bolt” surrounded but two lightning bolts. Then there is a suitcase with a rocketship on it. (another concept of bolt- getting out of town). It is a very scrappy piece. The suitcase is made using the graffiti spray painted glass pieces. The arch above the suitcase is the burnt and melted glass.