While I’ve profiled many glass artists over the years, today’s subject’s credentials blow the others out of the water. The first student ever granted a two-year apprenticeship with Murano glass maestro Livio Seguso, Christine Barney was also the first woman ever to study with a maestro since Murano became the glass art capital of the world in the 14th century. Known as the Woman Who Broke the Glass Ceiling in Murano, the Jersey City-based artist has a truly unique way of working.
I don’t typically post long quotes from the artists I feature, but when I tried to boil down and rephrase the artist’s description of her process, it stopped making sense. Barney works and works her pieces, over and over again, until they say what she wants. Her process is complex and thoughtful and very, very involved. Here she is to tell you herself:
“With notebooks filled with sketches, I rent furnace time and work with a hired assistant, coaxing the molten glass to follow my will, not its own. Lifting heavy glass all day is physically exhausting and there is no time for contemplation. The sculpture will only be fluid and beautiful if done quickly, with sure movements and immediate decisions. Every time the sculpture is returned to the glory hole for reheating, a little bit of stiffness has entered deep into its core. The goal is to avoid this rigidity until that part of the sculpture is completed, balancing the molten and solid states. The thick, sculptured pieces are then annealed for several days before the meditative rearrangement begins in my studio.
“A crucial aspect of each sculpture is the finishing that occurs by cutting away glass to dislodge another sculpture within, releasing light from the core. The use of optical effects enhances the ability to disassociate color from its source, such that color becomes a sculptural component. Hundreds of hours are required to carve and polish new relationships which blossom into fruition when excavated layers of transparent color expand with light.” -Christine Barney, Artist’s Statement on MostlyGlass.com
Her commitment to her art is really impressive, as is the work that commitment produces. American Style magazine called her work “symphony in glass.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!
All images property of Christine Barney.