Asheville – The symmetry and balance in nature is a subject that has brought 18 talented artists to the North Carolina Glass Center, where they are exhibiting stunning and unusual glass art pieces. The Geometry of Nature Exhibit is being held in the Robert Gardner Exhibition Gallery, next door to their teaching space and showroom at 140 Roberts Street in the RIver Arts District of Asheville. This exhibition gallery is open Thursday through Sunday through August 28th.
Glass blowing has grown in popularity in the last few years throughout the USA, and Asheville is certainly considered a large center with many glass artists living and creating here. Perhaps because of the Netflix series Blown Away, the NC Glass Center has seen an increase in visitors and class bookings. Located in the River Arts District, the Glass Center has a gallery with a number of practical, colorful glass pieces for sale in their shop—colorful glassware in multiple sizes and shapes, decorative pumpkins, blown glass ornaments, pitchers, jewelry, and many other glass items for the home. In the same building is an easily visible hot shop where glass blowing can be seen by anyone walking on the sidewalk or in the shop. To see the flames along with the hot glass taking shape on a blow pipe is mesmerizing.
In this current exhibition, every type of technique is used by the artist to visually portray nature’s symmetry, complexity, and beauty. Some pieces have been made on the torch, some in the hot shop, some by casting glass, and some using optic molds. The artist is seeking the best technique to achieve and convey the symmetry and balance found in nature in their work of art.
The artists in the Geometry of Nature show are all immensely talented; some have gone to the Penland School of Craft, worked with renowned artists such as Chihuly, worked in art studios in Venice, Italy, and received BFAs from well-recognized colleges. To mention a few of the artists that are showing: Kathryn Adams creates fluffy cloud patterns on delicately colored bowls and napkin rings. Hayden Wilson portrays a stunning Monarch Wing, which shows the delicacy of the wing filament as light flows through the glass. Jenna Ashcraft illuminates the intricate connection between geometry and nature with a specific focus on honeycomb and the honey bee. Marti Svodoba-Sidelnick has some incredibly detailed pieces made with a torch that are scientifically accurate. Ben Greene-Colonnese uses the technique of lost wax casting and allows rhythmic air bubbles to float through the piece. Signe Ballew has a striking stained glass pine cone based on the Fibonacci sequence of numbers found in nature. One must spend time looking closely at all these amazing artistic creations to see how they relate to the Geometry of Nature. These and other artists have been invited to exhibit in this show by Kim Self, the curator. Most are from Western North Carolina or have moved here recently. The pieces displayed are for sale, ranging from $175 to well over $1,500, with many already spoken for.
Kim Self’s pieces are stained-glass works of art. In this exhibit, she displays gracefully flowing Iris petals as a wall hanging as well as a Double Helix, the Information Spiral. Self says, “Nature is sometimes described as magic because of the seemingly impossible symmetry and natural geometry found within it. As we wonder at its beauty and complexity of natural forms, we are somehow additionally mystified by the complex geometry of its nature. In a similar way, mathematicians look at complex mathematical formulas and feel awe and excitement with the possibilities those formulas represent in the world.”
The North Carolina Glass Center
The NC Glass Center has been a non-profit since 2016 and a public-access glass studio dedicated to education, exploration, and collaboration in all forms of glass. The Center offers many classes and represents over 30 local artists. As a non-profit, they are dedicated to offsetting costs for the working artists who make the NCGC their studio home. They also provide affordable classes for anyone at any skill level. Glassblowing and flameworking demonstrations, educational classes, and workshops are offered every day except Tuesday, when they are closed.
The studio consists of a Hot Shop, a cold shop, and a Flameworking Shop. Equipment in these shops can be rented by the hour. Rentals are available during regular business hours or by permission outside of these hours. There are short classes for the general public to get an idea of how glass blowing works, as well as extended classes for folks who want to learn the craft more extensively. This year, a residence was started to offer visiting artists a chance to create new work and interact with the glass community.
The North Carolina Glass Center is directed by a Board of Trustees, with Tom Oreck as Chair and Alex Bernstein as Vice Chair. Candace Reilly, who had served as Vice Chair on the NCGC board from 2018–2021, became the Executive Director in May of this year. She manages all day-to-day operations for the North Carolina Glass Center (NCGC) and is leading fundraising, community engagement initiatives, and a capital campaign to expand NCGC to a second location in Black Mountain. This new building in the heart of Black Mountain is set to open in 2024 and will feature a state-of-the-art hot shop, flame shop, and gallery. For more information, go to www.ncglasscenter.org.