The Waiting Game

Peter and Leslie’s comments to my last post got me to thinking about brainstorming ways for artists to get through a rough economy.  Not that I feel artists really need my two cents on this one – doesn’t the very expression “starving artist” point to the symbiotic nature of adversity and creativity?

But while we’re all waiting for the world’s financial wounds to heal, I’ll throw out a few ideas for thinking outside the casket.

No. 1: Reach beyond your own skill-set.

How about collaborating with an artist, designer or craftsperson whose primary material is not glass? Painters and printmakers bring a wealth of ideas to the table that many of us glass-centrics often overlook.

Alex Hirsch “Island’s Edge” Watercolor and ink.

A couple of years ago Portland artist Alex Hirsch crossed our radar. Her segmented compositions seemed perfectly suited to modular construction, painting-with-light methods, and, most specifically, a project that we’d been approached to fabricate for a recently completed medical office at the Oregon Health Sciences University’s Center for Health and Healing.

Hirsch’s design sense paired with our team’s technical skills (and ample kilns) was the ideal solution to the client’s aesthetic and practical needs.

Hirsch and Bullseye tech Nathan Sandberg discuss pre-fired elements that will eventually be fused to larger Tekta plates and finally laminated.

2. Consider the functional – in addition to the aesthetic – side of art glass

We’re all seduced by the beauty of glass. It’s functionality is sometimes a harder sell. In the case of this project – and many others – art glass offers practical benefits that are easily as appealing as its aesthetic ones. In this case it was the ability to both obscure and allow visibility within an interior environment that demanded both privacy for patients and visual control by staff.

The problem: the client wanted a screen that would…

1) shield the hallway and nurses station adjacent to examining rooms from the view of waiting room visitors;

2) allow nurses to see movement, i.e., the presence of people, in the waiting room;

3) bring the organic and soothing feel of a nearby roof garden into the waiting area.

Hirsch’s design provided the ideal solution.

3. Think retro-fit

The current economy is not being kind to builders. A lot of projects are being delayed or canceled. Property owners – whether home or office – are increasingly thinking about remodeling instead of building new.

The OHSU project was not really a renovation, but the interior glass partition wall had not been planned into the original design of the space. It was only after the waiting room interior had been completed and furnished that the medical staff realized the need for more privacy than the original floor plan provided.

That’s when we were contacted and Hirsch invited to propose an “art wall” that would serve as both mural and veil. Track installed above and below the glass panels provided all the support necessary for the partition wall.

4. Enter Bullseye’s biennial e-merge competition.

Huh? What’s this got to do with it?

We – and ultimately the client – had originally become familiar with Hirsch’s talent through her entry in our 2006 e-merge competition. She’d been working in glass on a smaller scale after being mentored by a local glass artist. When we saw her e-merge entry, we knew that her work would translate into an architectural scale and invited her to work with our technical team to realize the OHSU project.

Hirsch’s “Highway 101″ fused frit panel, 11″ x 31.5″ x .25″. Winner of e-merge 2006 Newcomer Prize.

But no, you don’t have to host a competition to find opportunities for collaboration. Visit non-glass galleries in your area. Enroll in a drawing, painting or design course at a local arts center. Network with artists from other media. Take your glass skills outside the glass world.

Yes, it’s a scary world out there at the moment, but it’s also bursting with opportunity for the creative.

For more views of Hirsch’s glasswork, click here.

To learn more about e-merge, click here.

For even MORE about e-merge, stay tuned for news about e-merge and SOFA later this week.

4 Responses to The Waiting Game

  1. Great new blog additions, Lani!

    My mantra is ‘keep moving forward’. With sales down, I am unbelievably lucky to have picked up three teaching residencies through an Arts in Ed. program that will keep me working through the winter months. The high school students I’m currently working with are in their 2nd week of learning kilnformed glass & are really ‘getting it’ in spite of having less than an hour per day to play, experiment & learn. They will ultimately produce a series of tiles that will be installed in a renovated area of a local hospital.

    I just picked up an order of glass yesterday for the next project, working with middle school students who will fill a couple of windows in their cafeteria with bright vibrant color.

    All of the kids will keep some finished ‘test tiles’ & hopefully many will continue in the future to work with glass.

    Linda

  2. lmcgregor says:

    Excellent point, Linda!

    This is another one of those “silver linings” of the tough times: we are hearing increasingly from artists who are taking some of this down time to teach. Supplementing their incomes while providing exceptional learning opportunities for others – how more win/win can you get?

    And the end product of your project – public art by kids – adds yet another positive component to the mix.

    Your comment was a great one to wake up to! Thanks!

  3. Toni says:

    Excellent post, Lani, and very encouraging. I’m not so good at thinking outside the box…er, casket.

  4. Very good points Lani that I can relate to. As an engraver I generally come from outside the box.Ausglass at Tasmania was talking about printmaking, and I have tried to get to work with several as I could engrave the plates that last lot longer than metal, but it ended up painting style.Functional, appeals to me for lighting at least.Retrofit has a big future too as it is more likely to include customising, to the clients precise needs.For the very small operators I believe customising exactly with customers will be the way. It probably means bypassing galleries or developing a new style of special agent that liasses with artist and customer.
    Peter.

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