Jen Violette's ‘Rural Landscape Series’ sculptures are currently on exhibit at Ellenbogen Gallery in Manchester, VT. These unique landscapes combine soft-looking, hand-blown glass ’hills’ or ‘drifts’ topped by hand-crafted bronze barns or solid glass houses, are greatly inspired by the many historic farm dwellings that dot the rolling hills of bucolic Vermont.
Violette has been working with molten glass for the past 32 years, having received her BFA in glass and metal sculpture from Alfred University School of Art and Design in 1994. She has also studied at the Pilchuck Glass School, The Corning Museum of Glass, Rhode Island School of Design, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Penland School of Crafts.
Violette’s first rural landscape sculptures, created in 2008, were composed of cast glass and bronze houses and barns sitting atop distressed painted mahogany bases. Her first mixed-media sculpture, combining one of the bronze barns with a green glass bubble ‘hill’ was made in 2016. The series has now evolved into this new Rural Landscape Series currently being exhibited at Ellenbogen Gallery.
Grid of four sculptures above that are part of the "Rural Landscape Series" now on view at Ellenbogen Gallery in Manchester, VT. Details as follows:
- "Hilltop Barn, Nightscape, Midnight Blue" (Top Left)
- "Drift, Large" (Top Right)
- "Drift, Large II" (Bottom Left)
- "Large Hilltop Barn, Spring" (Bottom Right)
When creating these pieces, Violette begins with a small initial bubble of densely colored glass, which is then encased in a couple layers of clear glass. She blows the glass bubble up to the desired size, and then shapes it into a soft ‘hill’. She then uses a torch to heat a small area on the surface of the bubble and adds a recessed ‘foundation’ space in the glass ‘hill’ for the glass or bronze barn to nestle into for the finished piece.
Coloration is a matter of trial and error. With a painter’s approach, Violette experiments with various glass colors including different shades of green and white to mimic different seasons. One of the newest pieces in the series is a deep midnight blue colored ‘Nightscape’, which is her first night- themed piece. Many of the sculptures in this series have been sandblasted for a softer, slightly more opaque, matte finish.
The small bronze barns in Violette's landscape pieces are first made of wood. She then creates a plaster mold of the wood form, into which molten wax is later poured, creating a wax version of the initial wood barn. She uses a small knife to cut doors and windows in the wax barns. Then finally the wax barns are cast in bronze in a fine art foundry in West Rutland, VT. Violette then patinas and distresses the bronzes to make them appear more aged, much like weathered wood siding on an old barn.
“We are drawn to the Rural Landscape Series,” say the Ellenbogens who curated the show, “because for us these pieces are many things at the same time. Each one is a landscape, an abstraction, a force of energy, an anchor of contemplation, and a piece of poetry establishing a bold and dynamic material relationship between delicate and durable, glass and bronze.”
In 2017 and 2018, Violette was a featured guest artist at the Corning Museum of Glass Amphitheater Hot Shop after which she taught a Creative Glass Sculpting Techniques class at the Corning Museum of Glass. In May 2019, she was a guest artist at Public Glass in San Francisco, and in November 2019, she was a featured glass artist on the Corning Museum Mobile Glass Stage at SOFA Chicago. She has studied with many of the best glass maestros in the world, including Lino Tagliapietra, William Morris, Pino Signoretto, Dante Marioni, Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen, Martin Janecky, Richard Marquis, Randy Walker, Kait Rhoads, Stephen Dee Edwards and Fred Tschida.
There is a symbiotic relationship between Violette’s life and work. Her lively personality and attraction to the land are made tangible in her unfussy but elegantly executed work in glass. The Rural Landscape Series combines playful and colorful exuberance with the reassuring comfort of the organic.
For those who don’t live in the foothills of the Green Mountains, or otherwise have a peaceful little oasis to which they can regularly escape, Violette’s lighthearted, imaginative, and bright landscapes are a fine substitute.
Ellenbogen Gallery, located at 4620 Main Street in Manchester Vermont, is an art gallery, studio, and shop that is owned, designed, and operated by artists Carolina and Michael Ellenbogen. You will find their artworks exhibited alongside artworks from other selected artists. This unique art studio and gallery also features a dedicated area called “Eg. Shop” that offers up a collection of international gourmet provisions including wine, artisan chocolate, craft bitters and tinned fish, also known as conservas, that are, in their own rights, edible works of art. Visit www.ellenbogengallery.art for gallery hours and more information.
Join the gallery on Facebook and Instagram “@ellenbogengallery”; Michael and Carolina Ellenbogen can be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling (802) 768-8498.