Fired Up

Jacksonville-based artist Kirin Hale’s first 
 experience watching a glass artist was

“At some point in my youth, I saw a man in the mall making figurines in glass,” she said. “To say I was mesmerized is an understatement. I have wanted to work with glass ever since.”

Hale and fellow Jacksonville University graduate Helen Cowart found that local glass artisans weren’t getting enough attention.

Their answer was the upcoming juried exhibit “Through the Fire: Glass, Clay & Metal” with the hope of putting the spotlight on the overlooked art form. Cohosting the event Sept. 21-29 at CoRK Arts District’s East Gallery, Hale and Cowart are talented artists in the field.

“At first, we started with the idea of just showcasing glass,” Hale said, “but then decided to open the show to any art form that is created using fire.”

The show’s website touts “any art created with high temperatures including glass, clay, metal, soldering, welding and other art formed from fire.”

For the past few months, the glass artists have been working to get the show up and running.

“It’s really been a bit difficult to get the word out,” said Hale, a Florida native who creates abstract decorative pieces like vases, platters and wall hangings through a process she dubs “fusing and slumping” — joining different sizes, shapes and colors of glass using the heat of a kiln.

Hale has learned to be patient in her work.

“Although I was taught how to blow glass, I gravitated toward fused glass,” Hale said. “It is a much slower process than blowing glass, and I can spend more time on details. It may take a week for me to make a piece from start to finish.”

Hale and Cowart both have bachelor of fine arts degrees, with a concentration in glass, from JU.

“I don’t think people know that there’s a bunch of really great glass artists here in town,” Cowart said. “I want to show Jacksonville 
that there’s more than just painting and drawing — that glass comes from other places than Pier 1 [Imports].”

The submission process is relatively easy — a non-refundable entry fee of $10 gives an artist the opportunity to submit a maximum of four pieces. The finalists will be chosen Sept. 13 and judged by Brian Frus, assistant professor of glass at Jacksonville University.

Pieces must not weigh more than 100 pounds, and the artist must be responsible for transportation and special display requirements. Because this is a juried show, awards are given for first through third place along with three honorable mentions.

Both Hale and Cowart stressed the importance of creating a community of artists working with glass and other mediums.

“I’m a bit of a recluse, so it’s really important to me to work Downtown,” Hale said of currently moving her studio from the beaches area to Riverside near CoRK Arts District.

Aside from co-hosting the upcoming exhibit, Cowart will also be displaying her fused glasswork from her “Ophelia” series. She has eight pieces in the show. Other local artists who have submitted pieces include Lucy Clark, Arthur Rogers and Tiffany Leach.

“We have this really huge artist community that people just don’t know about,” Hale said. “I hope that this show helps bring awareness to Riverside’s large community of artists.”