In the Presence of Blue

Kirstie Rea’s Take on Blue

For the past twenty-five years glass has been my life. I work and teach with glass. When I look back to see how this all started, I realize that all the creativity was encouraged by mother. She pushed us to make things no matter what it was. That creativity was part of a childhood that relied heavily on exploration, independence, and physical outdoor activities. Despite my interest in art and to create things as I grew up, art as a career was not something to aspire to and it took me ten years after I graduated from high school to discover art school and even consider becoming a working artist as an option. By 1975, though, I had seriously dabbled in stained glass, and that was my real start in the medium.

Fast-forward eleven years later to 1986--I graduated from the Canberra School of Art’s Glass Workshop, Australian National University, where it was there I learned several processes. I was very fortunate to have been mentored by Klaus Moje and Neil Roberts. When I first started working with glass the elements that drew me to the medium were color and light, and that still stands twenty-five years after that fact. However, what I don’t enjoy are works that deal with the preciousness of the material, and glass can easily force artists to focus on that aspect, which curtails and restricts creativity.

My influences, how I arrive at an idea, and my personal process are continually evolving, and always based on the same basic ideas and interests since playing in my mind when I left art school twenty-five years ago. I’m intrigued by the minimal art movement, cubism, by artists who work with light and space such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin. However, my major influences can be traced back to the outdoor upbringing I had as a child, where I was taught to see and consider what was occurring in nature, understand the changes, and respect them.

I can’t separate my daily activities from my work--each day I take a long walk, a hike, during which I study nature and the day’s changing light. I photograph what I see, and somewhere some of that feeds into future works. I usually focus on a farm, a forest, fields that interest me, and how nature and the earth respond to what we are doing to it. But I also see much more—how the local light, season, the time of day, and place come together. These parameters are all important elements that shape my body of work.

All ideas are captured in a diary, as well as making models, either maquettes or using other materials like cardboard and paper to get a sense in what direction the piece is going. This process allows me to test the forms before I commit myself to making them full size.

I’ve developed a feeling through years of perfecting my process in creating my glass sculptures. This entails calculating the volume, temperatures, and the time to melt and cool the glass. In the sculptures that have a metal component, the steel has been painted and rubbed black in areas to reveal another layer beneath the surface, giving it a weathered look, and revealing layers of time, and creating the sensation of living and being lived in.
 
In my solo show, In the Presence of Blue at the Sabbia Gallery in Sydney, the use of the color blue is based on my love of the outdoors. It represents the big, warm and welcoming blue of the Australian skies. It has warmth, a distance, and an expanse that I don’t see anywhere else. It was the lure of this color that became the focus of the show. As our national radio announcer says most mornings back home, “and it’s another blue sky day in Canberra.” That’s a good day.

Kirstie is preparing for another solo show in 2012. She will be teaching this fall in Italy and later at the Sydney College of Arts. In 2011, she’ll be teaching in Canada’s Alberta College of Art and Design. Kirstie is represented at the Sabbia Gallery in Sydney, Masterworks Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, Bullesye Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and Pismo Gallery in Denver, Colorado.

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