It was a considerable length of time before I could even refer to myself as an artist. I am a mother of three, that is easy to say, I am a volunteer in my community, I could even go so far as to say I am a community activist. But the words artist and sculptor for some reason were difficult to use. I have wanted to be an artist since I was a child. I attended Emporia State University, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration ( a sensible degree, right?) with a minor in accounting and just shy of enough hours for a minor in marketing. Accounting? I don't even like math. Once out in the work force, I found myself a square peg in a round hole. The office was boring, stifling, my first employer did everything short of physically chasing me around the desk. I came home with hives at night and went back the next day to face it again, well in advance of the Anita Hill & Clarence Thomas sexual harassment hearings.
I married in '86 had three sons of which I am most proud and divorced in '99. Now what? I had what seemed like an irrelevant degree, few computer skills, well, I can bake a damn fine cake.
Over the previous years, I had taken a few art classes, community education mostly, often with my running buddy Gary. He encouraged me to pursue my dream. One of my "soul sisters" Denise introduced me to the Kansas City Crossroads district back before it was hip and happening. We went to a few galleries and she said, "you can do this." Another of my soul sisters asked, "why not?" "what's stopping you?" I realized that I was the only thing stopping me, the negative conversation taking place in my head. The one that said, you don't have an art degree, you have had a single drawing class and a pottery class at the University, who do you think you are? I was finally able to put a stop to the negative conversation and realized the only way to fail was to not try. I still wanted to be an artist, I wanted to create my own work and that want, that desire could not be quieted by distraction and seemed to get stronger as the years advanced. I decided it was now or never. The year was 2003 when I started making plans. I had remodeled the house we were living in, put it on the market, contracted to build a new one that I could have a studio in which to work as well as gallery space to show my work. Home finished, we moved in and then it was a time to............… Get Focused & Choose A Medium
What will I do, will I draw? Pen & ink is where I started but I love color. Will it be ceramics? No, I can't center lump of clay on a wheel to save my life. Will it be bronze? I love sculpture but the medium is crazy expensive. Paint? Maybe. What I was crazy about in my own collection was glass. I had been collecting art since college and I loved glass & pottery but especially glass. I like the way light is reflected, transmitted, refracted.....the fragility, the strength of glass. These are the qualities that lured me. I chose glass.
Self Taught Is Not A Bad Thing
I bought books, a kiln, glass, I talked to the glass artists I had come to know while collecting. At first I felt at a tremendous disadvantage without an art degree, no art history, no known masters to inspire. I started from scratch, like those cakes I bake. Pure basic information, ingredients, and I soon realized self taught seemed more of an advantage, I wasn't tethered to some preconceived notions of what I can or can't do. There are some rules you must follow working with glass but knowing these things also free you to experiment. Experiment I did, I broke some rules and I broke some glass. My credo in the studio is, if I'm not bleeding, I'm not working hard enough. Here's the thing, I refuse to be confined to a single medium. I paint canvases that hold glass sculpture within in it. I bend & weld sculpture with glass as the focus, I hand build porcelain molds to slump or form my kiln glass. I photograph my glass with transmitted and reflected light and sell the gallery wrapped canvas photography prints. I do it ALL but it ALL revolves around glass. If there is anything you should take away from reading this if you are still with me is to follow your heart, because it is never too late to be the person you were meant to be. Cliche perhaps but true. I have an in home gallery & studio. This square peg has found her square hole. And when I am not in my studio, I can be found at rehearsal with the Parkville Symphonic Band or out in the City listening to live music. Art and music are my passions. Well, and my three guys.
You can find my art glass in The Phoenix Gallery in Lawrence, as well as Wines by Jennifer in downtown Parkville. My home gallery and studio are open by appointment so just phone if you know you will be in the area. Just give a little time in advance so I can straighten the place up.