I was recentlty featured in Metro Christian Magazine. Here is the link to the magazine’s website.
Below I included the entire questionaire I filled out before publication. It will provide background information of the author of this blog site to those not so familiar with details of my career as a stained glass artist.
I was born in Jackson, in the old Baptist Hospital. For many years after college I lived in the Belhaven neighborhood. Moving recently to Fondren is a big step for me. I now live two miles from my birth place.
List your mediums
This is a complicated question for a creative person. I try to approach most everything I do as a form of expression. Glass of course would be listed first: leaded stained glass, fused, acid etched, painted glass, slumped, cast, beveled, and glass mosaic. I also paint using graphite, gesso and watercolor. Since 1996 I have been studying traditional icon writing using egg tempera as a painting medium. Recently I started experimenting with encaustic. And if counts as an artistic medium – when in the kitchen I cook with color in mind – what the dish looks like should be a color design as well as taste good. And I approach my garden design as an artistic medium as well.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an artist but studied Landscape Architecture in school. It was a five year course of study and I took most of my electives in through the art department which included stained glass.
Was there a moment when you knew this was your purpose and passion?
After college I decided to return to Jackson and open up a stained glass studio. It took a long time, 10 to 15 years, before I really knew that glass had the possibility of holding my interest for a lifetime of work.
What gives you inspiration?
It might be easier to list what does not give me inspiration. As a creative person I am always looking for juxtaposition of experiences and perception. I never really know where I will find what inspires me. A lot comes from visual perception, what I encounter in my day to day life. I am an eclectic reader so I am constantly inspired by ideas from an array of sources. Because I do stained glass I am quite often working with Christian theological themes that relate to the symbolism and imagery in my windows. The research I do by reading scripture and other related texts is a rich source of inspiration.
Did you have a mentor or teacher that inspired your creative talent?
It would be hard to single out one person. I have made it a point during my career to seek out educational opportunities to study with master artists and craftsmen. In chronological order I would list Paul Dufour, my first teacher in stained glass in college, Ludwig Scaffrath and Hans Gottfried von Stockhausen, both German glass artists, Vladislav and Demetri Andreyev, who have taught me icon writing in the Russian style. This is the very short list. In the course of my work I have been inspired by the people I have worked with over the years. Working alongside other artists at Pearl River Glass Studio is a constant inspiration to me. It seems appropriate to mention for your readers that many, many, times the book of Genesis and the creation story has inspired me. When I am in the creative frame of mind I believe that I am as close to God in my day to day life as I can be. And I have come to admire from reading the gospel how creative Jesus was in his ministry – how creative He was in revealing the principles of love and forgiveness to a world not necessarily receptive to his radical ideas.
Where and when do you feel the most creative?
There is a moment when working on a painting, in the garden, preparing a dinner, designing a stained glass window when time seems to dissolve into the background. At this moment everything is perfect and each stroke is direct and not in question. Some years ago, Tom Crouch, now the design manager at Pearl River Glass Studio, and I would talk about the idea of direct drawing. It could be defined as being in a state when you know that your ideas and abilities are in sync in a profound way.
What message do you hope to share through your art?
I consider it a great privilege and honor to design and make stained glass windows for the Christian Church. I have deliberately chosen certain paths of study and belief to better prepare myself for creating works of art that can inspire the faithful and unfaithful alike. What I wish for my windows to exhibit is that the process of worship and faith can be creative and personal. The images and symbols I depict in the stained glass are meant to be an entry into a further world of possibility and a deepening of the religious experience. I am now preparing a lecture for the summer conference of the Stained Glass Association of American on human perception of stained glass. For some years I have been aware that stained glass has the ability to reach individuals through their sense of perception on a conscious and subconscious level. I have reached a point in my life where my God given talents have purpose and meaning.
If you could describe your art in one word, what would it be?
What do you enjoy most about creating your art?
In my own work it is all about the process, it is the doing that is important. I have stacks of paintings on paper to show for it! My studio work in stained glass gives me much joy in knowing that our windows will live on for generations to inspire others.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would like to say thank you to all of the people in the Jackson community that have supported the studio over the years through commissioning us to do work for them. It has allowed me and everyone associated with Pearl River Glass Studio over the years to pursue what has been a quixotic experience at times. But in the end it is this relationship with our audience that I am very grateful for.
Interesting and frank – always a good combination