CREATIVE PEAKS: Smooth Creators

By on May 10, 2016

Young people slice into the medium of glasswork.

The Studio Project groomed 11 young artists as they experimented with the intricacies of glasswork. (Photo: national museum of wildlife art)

The Studio Project groomed 11 young artists as they experimented with the intricacies of glasswork. (Photo: National Museum of Wildlife Art)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Glass provides a delicate canvas. Clear or opaque, like paint, glass can be manipulated and deftly sculpted. Under expert hands it can convey imagery, create incredible fields of colors and even tell full stories.

Several high school students from Jackson have spent weeks learning to manipulate the medium to create works of art. Their efforts come together this week in the form of a massive sculpture suspended from the ceiling at the Center for the Arts that weighs in at about 200 pounds.

On Monday night people can see 133 panels of individually crafted glasswork, brought together to create the installation that will hang at the Art Association.

Each panel is its own work of art created by an area high school student. Together the panels form a sculpture that is both cohesive and shows off the individual work of each student, Grace Davis explained. Davis is the assistant curator in youth and adult education at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The sculpture is the culmination of an art program the National Museum of Wildlife Art launched in February.

Museum staffers felt the museum’s works weren’t reaching high school students as much as they wanted or as much as the works connect with other demographics, Davis said.

The project, which is a partnership between the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the Art Association of Jackson Hole, allowed students to work with artists in the community, as well as learn and practice a new art form that isn’t readily available in their classrooms.

A survey showed students in the valley were most interested in glass fusing, a medium they weren’t often exposed to.

The 11 high school students selected for the program from Journey’s, the Jackson Hole Community School and Jackson Hole High School met every Monday night for three hours starting in February.

The students were treated like professional artists. They had to apply for the free program, providing art resumes and letters of interest. If they missed a class they had to make up the work on their own time, just as an artist would in his or her own studio, Davis noted. “The students are incredibly dedicated to an artistic process and took whatever we threw at them and went with it,” she said.

Each student created 12 5 x 5 pieces and one 7 x 14 glass panel. They used four different glass fusing techniques they learned in the class.

Cutting involves making smaller pieces from a larger one. It allows artists to experiment with different color fields. Each pane is a piece of art created in complimentary colors.

Screen printing uses a finer detailed line. One student created a panel with the phases of the moon. Others drew on regional imagery, like a deer head, for inspiration and some went in a whimsical direction—one piece, for example, features an elephant holding a balloon.

Aperture involves heating glass in a ceramic bowl to 4,000 degrees then dropping it into a mold, allowing the colors to swirl together. Some come out opaque, others more transparent and some with dark colors. The finished product is a demonstration of the students’ understanding of how and when glass melts.

Frit painting uses a fine powdered glass- like paint. It creates the fuzzy, dreamy look of impressionistic paintings. Students used the technique to render landscape, portraits and images of their pets.

In addition to learning the art form, young pupils were also responsible for creating the final piece of art, the massive sculpture.

The program was meant to be an immersive experience that exposed aspiring artists not just to the skills needed for glasswork, but also branding and artwork sales. Visitors will be able to learn about the student artists in the public art space where their bios will hang along with their headshots.

The massive sculpture will hang at the Art Associayion through July. Davis said the project was a success and the museum hopes to partner with the Art Association again to sponsor a similar class and project next year. PJH

The Studio Project, open reception 6 to 8 p.m., Monday at the Art Association inside Center for the Arts, free. Jhcenterforthearts.org.

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