The World’s got a fever, and the only prescription is more Dale Chihuly

Arts & Finds (NICHE magazine)

Dale Chihuly is to blown glass what Art Spiegelman is to comics. The medium of glassblowing wouldn’t exist the way it does today without Chihuly, the pivotal figure and go-to historian in the field. Some people ski for fun, but the man who never tires of the possibilities of the blow pipe blows glass. Glasswork is play, and Chihuly is the universe’s play thing.

The world was introduced to Chihuly in 1941, and Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington in 1964. He became mesmerized with glass during a weaving class after weaving glass into a tapestry, and a year later he accidentally blew his first glass bauble in a basement with a blow pipe and melted glass. Chihuly says this must have been an act of fate because glass isn’t that easy to blow your first time. I swear I just heard Christopher Walken demand over a loudspeaker, “More Dale Chihuly, please.”

Chihuly liked blowing glass so much that he enrolled in the Harvey Littleton program at the University of Wisconsin. His studies continued at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he went on to establish its glass program and taught for over a decade. In 1968, Chihuly spent nine months working at the Venini glass factory on the island of Murano in Venice, where he quickly adopted a team approach to blowing glass that remains integral to how he works today. Teams range from six or seven people up to eighteen, and Chihuly prides himself in having more than a hundred of America’s top talent at his disposal.

In 1971, Chihuly founded the Pilchuck School of Glass on a tree farm in Washington State and has led the revolution in the fine art of blown glass since. A car accident in London in 1976 left Chihuly unable to blow glass for six months, but it turned out that Chihuly enjoyed delegation and overseeing as much or more than working at the centre of the action. Because the ideas are Chihuly’s in any given Chihuly project, he began to produce sketches to convey ideas to his team. His sketches are an art unto their own and accurately portray his visions, while the finished product is a reflection of Team Chihuly’s talents and skills. Glass can be free blown or mold blown, but Chihuly says glassblowing is a spontaneous medium if you let it be.

Chihuly’s curled glass tentacles grow as spontaneously out of fire and sand as the curly hairs grow out of his head. Chihuly’s work is undeniably Chihuly, like a stamp in the earth wherever he travels. Working primarily with glass, plastic, water and ice on any scale, Chihuly says it is light that makes these materials spring to life. One time a Chihuly water installation of glass spheres dried up with the pond they were decorating. For a moment I thought the spheres sprung to death until it occurred to me that the glass was gone because people took it. Imagine how much those pieces are worth, and how much those people treasure their free Chihuly art.

First and foremost a colourist, Chihuly explores concepts and colour palettes fully. After his mother’s death, he blew through The Black Series, which came to him like any other series, through visions and memories. Like any other concept, he explored it fully. This work is quite possibly an expression of how Chihuly viewed his mother through his art, the black a reflection of his mourning and the emptiness he felt as a result of her passing.

Often inspired by his own art collections, Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works, starting with the trade blanket Cylinders and the Navajo Baskets in the 1970s. The Baskets evolved into the Seaforms, and the Seaforms evolved into the Persians. The Venetians are totally different, though, and the Chandeliers evolved out of the hair on his head. Other well-known series include Macchia, Niijima Floats and Fiori. Chihuly is also celebrated for magnificent architectural installations, like the Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem exhibit at the Tower of David, which attracted more than one million visitors. Twelve to fourteen hundred pieces of glass compose many of Chihuly’s sculptural wonders, and installations often take several days to assemble. One can only marvel in the magnitude of works like the Crystal Mountain and Blue Tower in Jerusalem, the Sea of Glass at the Bellagio or Chihuly over Venice.

In 1995, Team Chihuly began to create sculptures at glass factories in Finland, Ireland and Mexico, which were then installed over the canals and piazzas of Venice. If this were my story, I’d call it Installing My Art in Venice: How Cool is that? Many awards and honours have been bestowed upon Chihuly, including eleven doctorate degrees and a prestigious, solo exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palaise due Louvre in Paris. Chihuly glass has been exhibited in hundreds of museums, galleries and hotels worldwide, and homes are certainly not exempt from gleaning more Dale Chihuly.

There’s something so natural and delicate about Chihuly’s work; sometimes it breathes and sometimes it exists in a world of its own. Whatever it is, it makes us happy. Contemplative, yes, but we must be happy in contemplation to attract anything good in life. Perhaps Chihuly’s art is the secret to The Secret… The world doesn’t need more cow bell, no; the world needs more Dale Chihuly!

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Article originally published in the Spring 2013 edition of NICHE Fashion Magazine (Vol 01, Issue 02). To view the original article and browse NICHE magazine, please click the following link:

Girly for Goddess, Goddess for Goodness

I closed the year, once again, watching cheesy romantic Christmas comedies on Netflix—my favourite, of which, may just be Just Friends starring Ryan Reynolds. He always makes me howl.

Okay, Merry Kissmas tops the list of titles, too, but I realized in the middle of watching Just Friends that I had to marry Reynolds. I vaguely remembered him being a fellow Canadian from Vancouver, so I figured I had an in. Shockingly this was the first time it had occurred to me to look up his birthday and lo and behold! He’s married, to Blake Lively no less. It felt like a faint shot to the heart. I can’t compete with her, I thought. She’s gorgeous and rich. I felt disappointed for a solid twenty minutes before settling back into nobody land. Alas! The search continues.

In all fairness, Reynolds is a Scorpio born on the cusp of Libra, so we probably wouldn’t be overly compatible anyway, but… here’s the thing about Blake Lively: she’s a Virgo born on the same day as an old friend I credit for turning me girly.

Before I met, we’ll call her Princess, I remember being in Whitefish, Montana, with my sister at a bar on the strip that my uncle frequented. I want to say the Remington. I had been drinking and there was this gorgeous guy with perfect teeth hitting on me. Meanwhile (if I remember correctly) his friends were holding up a sign behind my back about him shitting himself on the slopes after a hard bail snowboarding—though I didn’t learn that until later. The sign read something like, “You shit your pants.”

We’ll call the guy Barry. To his credit, Barry had the balls to ask me out. I appreciate men who have the balls to ask me out on a proper date, regardless of how I respond. Before going out with Barry, my sister pleaded with me to wear eyeliner. I savour dolling up on occasion, but I tend to reject the societal notion that I have to wear makeup (or straighten my hair) to be presentable. My naked face is my naked face; likewise, my curly hair is my curly hair. I may have been wearing mascara and sparkles the night I met Barry, but I wanted him to know what I looked like without. These are the things men need to know. It’s ideal to date a man who likes looking at your real face.

At Mayfair mall before Christmas, on that note, a young woman with an accent working at a skin care kiosk caught me off guard with samples on my way out of Sephora. While I stood in front of the woman reading the ingredient list, she asked me probably five times enthusiastically, “If you could change one thing about your face, what would you change?”

I don’t know how many times I read “petrolatum” before I finally heard the question. I looked up and stared into her pretty, seemingly vacant face. A pregnant pause ensued.

Actually, now that you ask… I’d come back in my next lifetime with rich, altruistic parents who positively reinforce me, but next time I’d be an Aquarius born on January 19 instead of a Capricorn. We’d live in the tropics and my skin would be bronzed all year round. I’d look like my girl crush, but with thicker, curlier blonde hair and green eyes instead of blue. Of course I would have skinny ankles, too, but now I’m breaking the rules. We’re not even talking about my face anymore.

“Nothing,” I finally answered. “This is my face. I wouldn’t change anything about my face.”

What, was I supposed to ask the seedling if her magic products could tend to an unforeseeable future?

The conversation was funny considering I spent my entire Christmas vacation off work researching retinol creams.

Nonetheless, my response left the young woman speechless. She was too young to recognize I pulled a Samantha Jones on her ass—this after a cashier at Sephora urged me to use the three bottles of Josie Maran argan oil I purchased on points to tame my frizzy mane. Wink, wink. Too bad for me that fuzzy hair went out of style, again. If only I could leave the mall on a Friday without feeling ugly. I use the argan oil to soften my hands and cuticles. Last time I checked, my hair doesn’t respond favourably. I understand that I wouldn’t likely win the model olympics, but I’ve been a hopeless observer obsessed with personal beautification for as long as I can remember. Beauty care is that double-edged sword that does and doesn’t discriminate.

“What’s your accent?” I asked the young woman at the kiosk before parting ways with her and the petrolatum-infested sample of face cream I’d never use.

“Russian,” she responded.

“I love Russian accents,” I said honestly. “I could listen to women with Russian accents talk all day.”

It was the truth. And though her question may have unwittingly diminished me, her silence did not.

***

From NICHE magazine, Inspiration Issue May/June 2013 (Vol. 1, No. 3)
Arts & Finds: Andrea Stajan-Ferkul
by Jill Lang

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Art Therapy for the Soul – Let the Divine Feminine Guide You

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” – Leo Tolstoy

Yes, complete is the delusion of beauty since goodness can never be unnecessary. Superfluous maybe, but true art only exists in the divine. Lest we forget artist as universe’s play thing (not adhering to the bondage of Piscean misconception, of course); the artist is meant to joyfully and uninhibitedly create. Some of us were put here for a reason, you know.

Beauty delights the sight and lifts the soul, which is why we should surround ourselves with beautiful things no matter the circumstance. Canadian fine artist Andrea Stajan-Ferkul believes in the essential beauty of women and understands that women feel better when we’re beautifully dressed. What a woman wears is an extension of herself, art and woman alike an expression of the divine. If you haven’t heard already, the divine feminine is going to save the world, on paintings, in your clothes and all around you. If you haven’t done so already, get acquainted.

While she’s always been creative, Stajan-Ferkul never intended to be a fine artist. She studied illustration and design, and then worked in the fashion advertising industry before shifting her focus to fine art. When everything turned digital, she reassessed her direction in life and stumbled upon emitting a new signal. She let go and trusted in all that is good in the universe, and poof, the universe opened a portal to painting. Fashion just happened to be her niche.

For those of you afraid to leave your 9-5, take heart; in this world, you only struggle as much as you want to. Brilliance exists to be received, fine artists like Stajan-Ferkul exist to receive it. Her work is not exclusive to fashion, though it remains a recurring theme in her subject matter. “The painting subjects intrigue me the same as they do you,” she said. Her works reveal an aesthetic genius that captures heart and bravado all in one breath. She’s that woman, and through her, so are you.

Indeed the dresses on dressforms seem to live and breathe, leaving the viewer to wonder about who wears the dress. Has its woman recently stepped away? Something of her personality or perfume lingers. She’s human, this woman, delicate yet fierce. She represents anyone. You can’t help but envision yourself in the dress…

Stajan-Ferkul believes that beauty exists in contradictions and says it can be found in the powerful aesthetic of glamour, as well as the charm of imperfection. Many of her fashion-centric works reflect this perspective as she explores perception of style and elegance as a whole, and its role in contemporary life.

As a staunch supporter of all that is good in the world, I found it challenging for the longest time to get comfortable with paradox until I discovered judgment surrounding contradictions exists only in duality. Of course the beauty of art is both divine and “unnecessary.” There’s no rat race to get to it. Divine beauty transcends the truth/ego paradigm and cannot be defined in the bounds of black and white. This basically lets us off the hook for being first creative, and second materialistic. We are material beings on a material plane. Let’s take a moment to celebrate via the creation and appreciation of art. Foolish consumerism notwithstanding, obviously we’re ‘allowed’ to collect beautiful treasures. Beauty, after all, is an experience. We’re supposed to treasure experience, right?

Vintage illustrations like Puttin’ on the Ritz and Uptown Girl allow the viewer to experience the wild and hypnotic nature of women, and reflect on an era of glamour when illustrators captured the spirit of the movement. This is what a woman looks like when she feels sexy. This is what she feels like. She remains live yet still as her emotions dance about her on the canvas. Your emotions dance about you. Sit back, relax; she’ll take you someplace good.

The white ballerina-esque dress in Beautiful Mess assumes the beauty of imperfection and is exactly that: a beautiful mess. We begin to understand and embrace the divine order of chaos as we’re swept away in its seductive play. Personally I would like to prance through airport security in this dress.

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Cocktails in Emerald City features a rich, green dress worn by Michaelle Jean (former Governor General of Canada) at a cultural event at Rideau Hall in Quebec where Stajan-Ferkul had the honour of exhibiting her artwork. “While looking radiant in a magnificent emerald green ensemble,” said Stajan-Ferkul, “it was her inner radiance that struck me most, graciously moving the spotlight off herself and onto my paintings.” Imagine floating into a room flush with admirers like a goddess. She has no legs, but damn, that’s a nice dress.

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Stajan-Ferkul has spent years exploring colour and texture, and mixing traditional art processes with mixed media techniques. In the beginning her paintings were more illustrative, but over the years her focus has turned to fine art. Small works have grown larger and larger, with featured works ranging from 30″x60″ to 36″x40″. Life size pieces can be found setting rooms and holding spaces around the globe.

While art and styles collaborate in their timelessness, her emphasis is always on bringing the emotional and intuitive elements of the theme to the piece. It’s as if each piece is a mirror reflecting back at you your own unique fabulousness, the experience curiously therapeutic. Did Stajan-Ferkul just crawl into your psyche and somehow make you feel good about yourself? Yes, this is exactly what she did, and she brought her pillow bed with her. Fine artist by day, Stajan-Ferkul is a true art therapist by night.

http://www.nichemagazine.ca
http://www.andreastajanferkul.com