filed under: art, glass, let's chat!, sculpture
beloved readers, let’s all take a deep breath and dive into the amazing art, sculpture and installation work that virginia artist elizabeth wade perkins creates. it is simply mesmerizing and after a good long stare, i am swept away by the richness of even a single vessel, so fluid and steeped in her personal history it all is. elizabeth uses a variety of techniques, including casting, blowing and pÃ¢te de verre, which is the centuries-old type of casting she does to create her beautifully detailed lace pieces. to me, her noteworthy technical skills aren’t the only secret of her success here; there is also the skillful underworking (or should i say perfect-seeming working?) of an amalgamation of ideas — the concepts of time, place and memory. in these works you will find a consistent complexity that is whole and complete, and collections that are wry, nostalgic and absolutely current. let’s have a chat with elizabeth and find out more!
q: where do you live, and where do you create your art?
a: i live on a farm named red bud in bumpass, virginia. it has been in my family for seven generations and its older name was seclusion farm. it is located in bumpass by neighboring areas called three square, tip top, cuckoo, and holly grove. bumpass is between richmond and charlottesville in louisa county. i make my work in my grandfathers old fix it shop. it’s a wood frame building covered in metal. it’s heated by a wood stove that my grandfather fabricated out of a number of wheel rims (from an old pick-up). he mended and made things in there to keep the farm running; everything from tractors to electrical. he invented this really cool system to keep his pigs hydrated. my favorite thing he invented in the shop was a light that was over the fridge to indicate that the toilet was running. he had hearing aids, so he couldn’t hear it. however his chair in the den was situated so that he could not only see out the “picture window” or look at television, but he could see the light over the fridge which indicated the toilet was running. when the light would turn on, he would go in the bathroom and jiggle the handle. god only knows why he didn’t just fix the toilet, maybe because it only ran sometimes or maybe because he used what he had at the time to fix the problem.
i think the whole thing is just awesome and ingenious. i’d like to think i got my creative mind and hands from him.
q: what is your background, and did you study art formally?
a: i grew up in southern rural america. my undergraduate degree is in sculpture from the atlanta college of art, and my graduate degree is in craft material studies from virginia commonwealth university. my favorite place to learn is at the penland school of crafts. though i am formally trained as an artist, i have learned a lot from my personal experiments and am more frequently informed by my subjects rather than my “education”. i seemed to get in trouble from time to time in school; like the time i showed up with a huge bale of hay as a component of one of my works. let’s just say… when you see those things on the side of the road out in the field they seem kind of small, but they are not. they are massive and beautiful. sometimes it takes bringing the outside inside and the inside outside for us to really have an understanding of what we are looking at. if you see the forms in resuscitation (photos below) they are taken from that bale of hay. everyone on my graduate committee at the time told me that piece was technically impossible to build in porcelain and impossible to slump over in glass. i like making the “impossible” possible. they don’t teach you how to do that in school. i think those kinds of quests are personal and are brought about by our experiences, desires and willingness to fail.
q: (without giving away any secrets of course!) can you tell us a little about the techniques you use?
a: there aren’t really any secrets to it. mostly it’s paying attention to what you’re doing, learning from what you do, seeing the potential and identifying the control in your artistic experimentation and investigations, working hard and being patient. i use many processes. i blow glass free hand, i also blow glass into both cold and hot blow molds. whatever is appropriate for the form and will make its potency more… stinky and real, honest perhaps.
i also kiln cast and use the pÃ¢te de verre method of casting. i use techniques that are appropriate to my forms and the ideas i want them to convey e.g., fragility, texture etc. most works contain glass.
q: how do you think your work has transformed since you started making art?
a: in one of my artist statements i say, i am still the naive child searching around the house for hidden treasures in the old furniture and cupboards. i have the same nosiness and fearlessness as i did as a child. (inquisitiveness, perhaps.) as i’ve grown i have discovered the complexities of these nooks and crannies and have built a larger visual vocabulary by being inquisitive. i have practiced a lot. i have been seduced by my material and its traditions but i walk and practice outside those traditions and former histories. i think there are so many new forms to be made in glass.
q: what is the price range of your collection?
q: what is your inspiration for these works? do you have a message you want to send through these pieces?
a: i am interested in values and traditions; how they evolve and linger through the ways we experience life, art, and craft. i am interested in what remains inside and outside of these notions; works that give the viewer something to hold onto and in some cases to let go of. in other words, what we give birth to, what we pass on, and what we take with us when we pass away. i feel my most successful pieces deal with these complexities simultaneously.
q: where can we go to see your collection in person? is there anything else meaningful you would like to include?
a: i will have a trio of medium glass lace pieces in the urbanglass gala and auction in new york on april 4th, 2008. i am currently seeking gallery representation. i have a website with many of my works. my email is included on the site, and if you are interested in buying my work you may contact me through my website.
thank you elizabeth! and special thanks to burt for putting us together (and taking these last two photos)!