Glasswork done by local artist Katherine Russell. Photo Submitted

Katherine Russell launches new exhibit at Fernie Museum

On Friday, December 13, glass artist Katherine Russell launched a new exhibition at the Fernie Museum.

Hot & Cold: Glass Art in Three Parts is Russell’s largest solo exhibition ever and it will showcase all of the different techniques she uses in her glass work.

“Typically, when I’m doing a solo exhibition, it’s a small body of work that’s new,” said Russell. “This is several bodies of work all showing together.”

The exhibition will showcase pieces made using techniques like glassblowing, sand carving, kiln-forming and powder printing. This assortment of techniques is what inspired the name of the exhibition, according to Russell.

“Some processes are literally cold when you’re working the glass so you’re grinding it or you’re sand carving it,” she explained. Russell has a cold shop in Elkford but also does glasswork at high temperatures.

“On the other end of the scale is hot glasswork which would be when I’m blowing glass, using a glory hole that’s at 1100C and a furnace that’s at 1100C, it’s literally working the glass when it’s hot.”

Although Russell is putting forth one large exhibition, she mentioned that there will actually be two miniature exhibitions within the whole. One is called Held and was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts. This body of work was inspired by photos that Russell took on a trip to Australia.

The other mini-exhibit, Memories Are Malleable, was funded by Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance and is composed of pieces that Russell made this past year. The pieces are kiln-formed glass with a powder printing technique. According to Russell, the body of work examines the unreliability of our memories.

“It’s finding a visual way to depict how storytelling changes the more we tell that story,” she said. “How the original facts in our stories could get lost and go through changes.”

As visitors move around the exhibition they will be able to see these mini-exhibitions in clusters around the gallery. Russell says there will also be panels displayed with the art to explain the motivations behind the pieces.

When is comes to glasswork, there is one major thing that Russell would like visitors to the exhibition to consider: that glass can be art.

“I’d like them to consider glass as an art medium,” she said. “Often glass is a craft medium, which I love working in a craft medium, I love making vessels and objects that are useful for people but I’d like people to see that glass can also be an art form, that it can also be on the wall, it can be talking about larger ideas.”

Russell noted that so often glasswork is functional and on the table. She wants to “get it off the table and onto the wall where we are used to seeing photographs and paintings.”

This is Russell’s first exhibition at the Fernie Museum and it will run from December 13, 2019 to April 19, 2020.

The launch of Hot & Cold: Glass Art in Three Parts was part of a larger event, the Fire & Ice holiday gala celebration at the Fernie Museum on Friday.

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Katherine Russell’s glasswork can be viewed at the Fernie Museum until April 19th. Photo Submitted

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