Born and raised in the Midwestern part of the United States, Amy West, has studied, worked and lived on four continents. After 20 years as an international communications professional she left behind a successful corporate life to pursue her passion for the art and beauty of Venetian glass. Since moving to Venice in 2005, West spent nine years working in the studio of glass master Luigi Camozzo.
Specializing in the traditional engraving and carving of Murano glass, West brings a contemporary touch to a traditional craft. Working hot glass at the torch allows her to bring her own contemporary expression and sensibilities to the form, color and light of her glass beads,rings and necklaces. The more comfortable glass becomes as a medium, the more it reveals it’s possibilities in design, lighting and technique innovation.
RiverStones, on view at R|R Gallery, is West’s most recent body of work and was inspired the river Ardo, tributary to the Piave river in northern Veneto.
According to West’s reflection, “Coming out of a dark time in my life, the light of the river playing off the movement of the current, the color of the rocks, inspired me, gently pulled me out of my darkness. Opening into the beauty and touch of the stones tumbled and shaped by the flow of the river, I found a similar sense in how I felt tumbled and shaped by recent events in my life, hoping to come out of my experiences as rounded and smooth as the stones around me.
These pieces, vessels and jewels, are reflections of the colors, the light, the shapes and forms that have filled the artist’s mind and thoughts since before this collection started forming five years ago.
The vessels are all blown by hand based on the designs put on paper by West. Murano glass is usually made from raw materials according to special color recipes, or “partie”, passed down through generations, or developed through evolutions of such family recipes. These used to be seriously guarded secrets, whole parts of glass equation being withheld from any one family member, in order to prevent someone from stealing the secret.
For the RiverStones Collection, glass from the studio of Pino Signoretto was used, and all of the pieces were created in that environment. In some cases, once the base vase was blown and shaped, a kind of “calcedonia” (multi-colored striation effect) glass was swirled around the vase, searching to recreate the desired movement and dynamic of water current and flow. In other cases, the glass colors were actually combined during the glass gathering , and swirled in the blowing process, while the shape was being formed.
After the pieces are designed and blown, they are tempered over a period time, determined somewhat by the size and thickness of the glass. Once the pieces are tempered, West begins to lend her hand to them, carving and cutting to texture and sculpt the glass into it’s final form. This stage of the process can occur in two or three levels, at it’s most simple execution, with two or three wheels of various grains and contours. Or this stage can be quite complicated, evolving in ten, sometimes twenty or more various applications of wheels, texturing and polishing techniques.
Creating high lights and deep relief, executed with precision and accuracy, yet leaving room for voice and flow in the glass to be, takes time, experience, and a natural sense to bring all these aspects together in a balanced form.
RiverStones is West’s first solo show in the United States. In 2014, West was included in Gruppo 30141 Murano, an exhibition at Palazzo da Mula, recognizing Glass Masters of Murano. In the summer of 2015, she will be artist in residence at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York.
Amy West: RiverStones Glasswork from Murano, Italy
On view November 20th – January 6
The Gallery at Reinstein|Ross
30 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014