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ArtBeat: From drawing to glass sculpture; Young artist provides art for sculpture

  • Greenfield Middle School student Curtis Plausky stands near the fused glass relief scultpure made by Lynn Latimer during the Glasstastic exhibit opening at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. Latimer based her scultpture on Plausky’s drawing titled, “Alien Mutated Germ.” For The Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • Trish Crapo



For The Recorder
Friday, March 31, 2017

On a recent Saturday, the galleries at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Brattleboro, Vt., were packed for the openings of multiple exhibits.

The front, central gallery walls were hung virtually floor to ceiling with almost 800 drawings by Paul Shore; a small installation room held an exhibit by New Hampshire artist Soo Sunny Park; and other offerings included a collection of cartoons drawn by Ed Koren, collages by Mary Welsh and lithographs by Claire Van Vliet.

The museum puts on vibrant openings, and this one was no exception. It included a lavish spread of food, mimosas or Bloody Marys, and a rare chance to mingle with the artists.

I’d come to see a show called that promised glass sculptures of fantastical creatures. It was called, “Glasstastic.”

I identified the artist I was looking for by his name tag: “Curtis Plausky, exhibiting artist.” Plausky seemed pleased with the turnout, and was happy to talk for a little bit about his work.

Plausky, a 6th-grade student at Greenfield Middle School, had a drawing titled, “Alien Mutant Germ,” in the show. Plausky’s drawing was one of only 20 out of 1,000 submissions selected by the museum for its “Glasstastic” project, which asks students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade to submit drawings of imaginary creatures that local glass artists then use as blueprints to create glass sculptures.

Plausky said he created his drawing by beginning to doodle and then realizing the shape he’d drawn looked like a germ. He then expanded on the drawing, creating a creature with 20 eyes and multiple branching appendages, some of them pouring water. Pointing out the different sections, Plausky says his creature is, “Made out of water, lava and radioactive goo.”

Plausky’s dad, Norm Plausky of Greenfield, expressed pride and surprise at his son’s inclusion in the exhibit. Asked whether Curtis spent a lot of time making art, he said, “Yeah, he’s always up to something. Whether it’s art or something else,” he said laughing fondly.

Plausky and son both thought the sculpture would look good with a light shining from behind it, to accentuate the bright colors and make it look as if the creature was glowing in the dark.

The artist who transformed Plausky’s drawing into a fused glass relief sculpture was Lynn Latimer of Easthampton.

Latimer first began working with glass at Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s, where she studied with famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, then head of the school’s Glass Department. She opened Latimer Glass Studio in 1976 and has been working in glass ever since.

On her website, Latimer mentions as inspirations French artist Paul Klee, primitive art, the color shifts of hand-knotted rugs and old textiles, as well as Japanese aesthetics, all of which make sense when you see her work, and may explain her attraction to Plausky’s drawing.

“I just fell in love with his drawing. It’s so organic,” Latimer said. “And it’s also very symmetrical. As soon as I started to lay it out on paper and think about the colors and where things intersected, I realized it’s a really complicated drawing. …I just really love the brightness of it and its purity.”

Latimer worked with glass paints, as well as powdered and crushed glass to replicate the drawing’s bold hues.

“It’s fused glass,” she says, “so, layers of glass have been melted together in a kiln.”

Working on top of a sheet of white glass about a half-inch thick, Latimer drew the various lines of the drawing using powdered glass she’d mixed with a binder, “So that it became almost like icing.”

These raised lines of “icing” created barriers that she could then fill with crushed glass, keeping the distinct colors of Plausky’s drawing from melting into one another.

Plausky’s art teacher, Greenfield resident and scratchboard artist Karen Gaudette, said that the class that submitted work to the museum was made possible by an Extended Learning Time grant.

ETL classes extend the school day, “But kids are offered a variety of enriching classes,” Gaudette said. “If we didn’t have the ELT grant, I’m not sure I would have or could have done this project in my regular class.”

Gaudette had students study the images of past years’ glass sculptures on the museum’s website, asking, “What were the challenges for the glass artists to take this 2-D drawing and make it 3-D?”

Drawings by two other students from Gaudette’s class, Katie Adams and Kasey Hurd, were chosen to be among the 60 drawings displayed on the walls. Additionally, all entries were filed alphabetically in notebooks that viewers could browse. The day of the opening, the notebooks were in heavy use, as parents and kids sat at a low table on which a plate of fancifully decorated sugar cookies spun off on the fantastical creature theme.

Speaking to a crowd gathered in the large main gallery, museum director Danny Lichtenfeld said that the “Glasstastic” exhibit was inspired by a program called, “Kids Design Glass,” initiated by the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash. Because of the abundance of glass artists in southern Vermont and western Massachusetts, the program seemed perfect for adapting to our region, Lichtenfeld said.

This year’s exhibit was the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center’s third. In 2011, in response to its first call for submissions from school children in grades kindergarten through sixth grade, the museum received 250 drawings. In 2013, the call yielded 800 drawings; and in fall of 2016, more than a thousand.

Check out this year’s crop of fantastical creatures now through Sunday, June 18, at Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, 10 Vernon St., Brattleboro, Vt. Contact: 802-257-0124; info@brattleboromuseum.org Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Tuesdays.

Find out more about Lynn Latimer’s glass work at: www.latimerglass.com