Archive for April, 2010

At long last it’s here!  Our eagerly awaited glass workshop has begun.  This past week we met Jonathan Swanz (glass artist, yogi, and guy in the green shirt) at Louisville’s Glassworks shop for an orientation, but it went further than that!  We initially scheduled this trip to get our artists used to a new studio and to see logistically what needed to happen to make this all flow smoothly.  The staff at Glassworks made us feel welcome.   And Jonathan surprised us all when he said we should try to make something simple like a sun catcher.  For most of us, this was our introduction to a new material and method of working.

We brought our supplies and Jonathan gave us a quick overview on some basic concepts and techniques for handling the glass.  I was pleased to see that everyone in our group was into it!  We began by having our staff cut the glass into roughly 4″ x 5″ rectangles.  Organic shapes are especially hard to cut.  Next colors were chosen and glass shapes cut to lay upon these rectangles in compositions of our artists’ choosing. 

Here’s an example of what we were doing.  Once the glass pieces were in position, they would be glued down with a special adhesive that would burn out in the kiln.  Under high heat (1800 degrees) all the glass would “fuse” together creating a unified surface.  This is the basic technique we will be using to create artworks that ultimately will be shown at the Weber Gallery during the Glass Art Society’s gathering in Louisville.  The next time we visit Glassworks, we can check out the finished sun catchers and we will post of few of those here. 

In this image, Jonathan is assisting Eric and Sally with gluing the pieces down.  It’s funny how the glue being used is pink and one of our group thought it looked like Pepto Bismal!  Here are Terry and Dorcas working on their projects.  For the StudioWorks artists that like to work geometrically, this is going to play to their strengths.  For our artists that prefer representation, this will be a great excercise in abstraction.  Terry and Dorcas were having a blast and the whole experience was so stimulating.

The majority of our glass sessions are scheduled for the month of May.  Our goal is to eventually move on to more ambitious projects that we can exhibit.  Once the glass is fused, it can then be shaped by “slumping” it in a mold.  Again under high heat, the glass sheet softens and conforms to the interior shape of the mold.  Here is a display of the types of molds that can be used to create bowls, vases, platters, and more.

Since this experience, our artists have been itching to go back and I can’t blame them.  I think we all really enjoyed our first foray with glass.  There are so many partners to thank for this experience, but I would like to begin by thanking the folks at Glassworks for their hospitality and to say we look forward to working with you to help realize our projects!

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In an effort to learn more about the different studio art communities in our region, my colleague Sallie Read and I visited a great program in Lexington, KY.  The Latitude artist community is located at 167 Saunier Street in the heart of the city’s downtown district.  The previous year, the good folks at Latitude had visited our program and so this was a way to return the favor and continue building upon our budding relationship.  The two programs have much in common.

The founding co-directors are Bruce Burris and Crystal Bader and their program emphasizes “…a communal studio space where artists come together to work.”  Their focus, like StudioWorks, is a fine art one.  Latitude strives to “…empower and give voice to artists considered to have a disability.”  Latitude is a working model on how to achieve this.  This artistic community exhibits widely and a few of their members are  nationally known for the caliber of their art.  Most of the artists have either the SCL or Michelle P. Waivers.  And like other person-centered, choice based programs, the artist population varies.  The Latitude artist community has had as many as thirty members.

What the Latitude crew does especially well is advocate for the complete quality of their artists’/clients’ lives.  This is done in a number of ways including being politically active and bringing issues of social justice to the fore in the population at large.  Latitude was active early in the community gardens movement in Lexington.  Recognizing that getting enough physical excercise can be a challenge with this community…Latitude initiated yoga and movement classes (open to the pubic for a nominal fee) that have produced increased physical mobility with some of their clients.

The day Sallie and I were present, LexPro clients mixed with the Latitude artists for a community garden experience led by Jim Embry.  Embry is the founder and director of the Sustainable Communities Network which emphasizes “…living with a sense of the sacred connections between ourselves…Mother Earth…and the entire Earth community.”  Embry spoke easily about the connections between the quality of our food and the health of our bodies and his message was understood and appreciated.

The program was a two-part experience.  The first consisted of planting herbs in one of Latitude’s Mobile Urban Garden Units (or something like that!).  In this case, it’s an old bar-b-que grill being reused and recycled.  I also like the irony.  What was once used to cook meat now grows veggies.

One by one the participants planted their herbs with Embry’s help.  And upon leaving Latitude, were given a disposable cup containing dirt and yellow squash seeds to plant at their home gardens.  On our way out, I noticed a few Latitude artist painted signs and since we just observed Earth Day…thought this would be a nice visual to end this post.  Thanks Latitude for being good hosts and we hope to see you soon.

Latitude is actively using social networking tools and maintains a blog.  To learn more about them, check out this link:  http://latitudeart.blogspot.com/

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Life has been busy at StudioWorks and before too much time slips by we at Zoom Group would like to thank Commissioner Stephen R. Hall for visiting our program.  Mr. Hall oversees the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Behavioral, Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Now that’s a title!  Mr. Hall spent the morning visiting Zoom Group’s commercial operations at UPS and then had lunch at our studio before returning to Frankfort.  Mr. Hall is the second person on the right in the above photo.

Accompanying the Commissioner on his tour were Zoom Group’s Chairman of the Board,  Shawn Herbig,  shown here talking art with Julie and Carol.  Kudos also go out to Sallie Read, Judy Erwin, and Angela Robards for all the prep work they did to make this visit go smoothly.

There was one really nice moment that happened before Mr. Hall left us.  StudioWorks artist Sally Hardman presented the Commissioner with one of her paintings to hang in his office!  The Commissioner seemed to really enjoy Sally’s thoughtfulness and told us that his daughter is studying art at Georgia Tech University.  It was nice to know that he relates well to art.

We at Zoom Group are looking forward to working with the Commissioner and our community partners to improve the lives of people who have developmental disabilities.  Thanks also go to Eric Huggins for his photography work.  Here’s a picture I snapped of Eric and Judy Erwin during Mr. Hall’s visit with us.  I think it’s a keeper!

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Recently, we featured in this blog an owl painting that StudioWorks artist, Carol Thorp made.  While she was doing that piece, she was also working on a clay sculpture that compliments that painting.  We are big fans of process and so here are three images from start to finish of  “Oliver the Owl”.  The first image is of the owl formed from clay that is still wet.  It will have to dry more before we can bisque this piece in the kiln.  After that it will become ceramic hard.  This piece is constructed with a hollow body.  If it were solid clay it would take longer to dry and be much heavier.

Here is Oliver after the first firing and with ceramic glazes applied.  It will be fired in the kiln one more time before it can be considered finished.  Carol worked on this piece with assistance from Vickey Reed.  Carol selected the colors she wanted her owl to be and carefully applied them with clean brushes.  Here is the finished piece after the glazes have turned to glass in the extreme heat of the kiln.  The finished owl is about seven or so inches high and looks great alongside some of Carol’s other ceramic animal figurines!

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