"Bringing light, luminosity and Joy to your home!"
Carrie Gustafson I am so fortunate that, as an artist, I am afforded the luxury of quiet every single day and the peace I receive from being in my studio is immeasurable. But what I have found even more remarkable is the effect that my work, created in tranquility, has on others. That the pieces I craft with love, care and time do indeed shine serenity, light and joy back into the world.
My work is largely influenced by the natural world and I have come to view my studio time akin to cultivating a garden. A daily routine that is both an outlet for creative discovery and a space where I find balance. There is an organic rhythm to my process. Like an inhale and an exhale – inhaling my surroundings and exhaling life into new pieces. With each new piece another door for exploration opens. And I have found that each work uniquely informs the next; as much as anything external or pre-meditative.
A larger piece can take several weeks to complete and the seemingly simple act of hand cutting and applying stencils - one at a time – has led to great discovery. Watching the growth of new patterns and the interplay of positive and negative space is a creative journey in itself. My love of color is always present and glass – magical and radiant; made by way of breath’s imprint – retains importance as metaphor in my work.
Experiments in glassblowing while a printmaking major at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) ignited my signature style of intricate patterns on vibrantly colored hand-blown glass. Upon graduation I quickly found my way into the glass studio. My curiosity took me to the Pilchuck Glass School (WA); Penland School of Crafts (NC); Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass (NY); the Rosin Studio, on Murano, Venice’s historic “glass island” in Italy. In 1998 I found studio space in Cambridge, MA where I continue to thrive.
For over a decade I worked with traditional vessels and I was captivated by the interplay that light, color, pattern and texture have with these closed forms. In 2011 (and 2016) I was honored to be the recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant.
This, coupled with a residency at the Tacoma Museum of Glass (2011), enabled me to embark on a new journey - breaking away from the vessel. The act of cutting open the vessels has presented me with a vast expanse of new possibilities and challenges, both technical and aesthetic. It has been a fascinating to witness just how different an “open” form reacts to light; this is an exciting new journey and potent metaphor for this stage in my life. Based on African currency bracelets this new format seemingly serves a dual purpose – for me a new way to see color and texture and light; and for the viewer, a fresh perspective. Perhaps due to the nature of the forms - which are reminiscent of artifacts and more easily identifiable with the pace of a museum – are seemingly more deserving of close observation – where as a vessel, which we identify as utilitarian, might more easily be overlooked.
In 2015 I made my first “shard drawings”. They began as summer play in the studio. Too hot to stencil and sandblast; too short on cash to blow glass I saw opportunity in the shelves of glass blanks that had been deemed seconds. Taking inspiration from the patterns that I had been using in my vessels I began slicing and dicing platters into gestural marks of color. Initially shy to show them publicly I’ve been overjoyed that they have received a warm reception from my gallery and the public. I am in awe, again, at how color changes with light. I’m incredibly excited by this new direction and see endless possibilities for gesture, line and ways to combine color. In many ways I’m taken back to student days where I used flower petals as elements to draw. The glass shards provide me with a similar translucency, but in an archival material.