In my new position as one of the National College of Art and Design
(NCAD) glass artists in residence, I have the pleasure of sitting beside one of
the most interesting emerging artists in Irish Glass today: Karen Donnellan. We
have been acquainted for some time, meeting at glassy events and giving the
awkward nod of acknowledgement which says ‘I know who you are…ish’ on campus.
While she was a familiar name to me, I was otherwise concerned with important
student matters (drinking and danc- I mean intensive study) but now we’re
desk-neighbours. The significance and scope of her practice to date has
seriously impressed me.
|‘Ensō II’, Pâte De Verre,Karen Donellan, 2011|
a great work ethic. The circle often features in her works and she treats the
intricate, repetitive methods of her making process as a meditation or mantra.
At its core, her practice explores the potential for healing via the
manipulation of universal energy. It is thoughtful, considered work, made with
care and informed conceptually by her extensive study of metaphysical
philosophies. She also practices what she preaches; I’ve seen her burning sage
to clear a space of “dense energies” and she’s a qualified Reiki healer.
|‘Essentia’ – Karen Donellan|
(RIT), New York in 2011, Karen has worked and exhibited extensively. Many
readers will be familiar with her Essentia series which featured in last year’s Future
Makers prize-winner’s exhibition at the NCAD Gallery and most recently at
the Irish Craft Portfolio Exhibition at the RHA.
web-page that is the visual equivalent of a particularly delicious ice-cream.
Recently my little bit of internet delight has been J/K: Light Glass and Space: The blog began as part of an ongoing collaboration
between Karen and American glass-artist John Hogan and thus far has led to
their exciting Emerging Artist Residency (EAR) at Pilchuck Glass School last
autumn. This blog is packed with my favourite kind of internet eye candy;
sculptural light and experimental glass.
she would do a short interview about the experience and her future plans:
MM: The work you made at Pilchuck is
visually very different to your previous work from your MFA. Was that because
it was a collaboration or have you moved your work in a different direction?
like my work, but I wear ridiculous colours all the time! I worked with colour
the whole way through NCAD and the light and projection has always been an
interest. In core year at NCAD I worked a lot with plastics, water and light.
Then again during the masters, I spent some time experimenting with an overhead
projector and seeing how different glass objects projected. I’ve dabbled on and
off with those ideas and maybe I wasn’t encouraged or didn’t have the
confidence to bring it any further but it’s always been an interest.
|Collection of ‘curios’ , cut polished and laminated glass, J/K 2013|
MM: How did you decide to collaborate with John Hogan?
Assistants. We were sharing the same studio space and assisted each other a bit
in the hotshop. John works as a glass blower and designer in Seattle. He’s also
done a lot of casting and cold working. (He did a residency last year in the
Czech Republic with the maestro Milan Handl.) John showed me his work and I was
just really into it – he was using a lot of dichroic glass and gave me some to try
out. I’ve always been fascinated by dichro. You don’t see it used much in
contemporary work, it’s completely underrated! I suggested a collaboration and
when the Pilchuck residency came up we just said, “let’s go for it”!
|Projection. J/K 2013|
collaboration going to continue?
experimental and even though it was a seven week residency it felt like we had
only got going when we had to finish. The work developed in various directions but
on the next residency we’d like to hone in on the rear projection systems.
MM: So I guess the last question is what’s next for you?
Work-wise I’m getting to grips with neon and developing some new projects
around glass and sound. I’ve also just begun working on some lighting designs
with Suzannah Vaughn and Perch. At the end of the month I’m heading to Cill
Rialaig in Ballinskelligs for a retreat residency. The plan is to get away from
glass for a while and just read, draw, paint…and maybe print.
been several exciting developments: Firstly it’s been confirmed that she will
teach a pate de verre workshop this August at the Glass Furnace in Turkey. She
has also been awarded an Emerging Artist Lecture at this year’s Glass Art
Society Conference in Chicago.
week’s residency at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio from March 14th
– 19th. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
GSoI Media and Communications Officer