“Celebrating Water” is the theme of a group show featuring flamework glass artist Branda Corey, stained glass mosaic artist Linda Soos and photographer Lisa Aikenhead at Gold Country Artists Gallery, 379 Main St. in Placerville, during the month of September.
These women artists, although they use three very different artistic methods, are united in their vision to bring attention to the need for water conservation.
‘This terrible drought has made us realize how much water is both needed and wasted in our everyday lives. Our reservoirs at Sly Park and Folsom are low, vegetation and trees are dry and susceptible to fire, and families and businesses are being asked to conserve. At the same time, though, we know that when we take a 5-minute shower at home, we are using more water than millions of people in developing countries use in a day,” Soos explained.
“Our show helps us reflect on the gratitude we feel for this natural resource, a resource we take for granted when we are not living in drought conditions as we are now,” Soos continued.
Corey was raised in California and spent most of her childhood exploring rivers, lakes and the Pacific Ocean. Her love of nature, combined with her appreciation of rustic finishes and patinas, acts as an inspiration for her flamework glass beads, knives, serving spoons and magnifying glasses. Her nature-inspired pieces bring to mind underwater scenes, starry skies and wooded mountains.
She forms her glass beads and handles by using an ancient art form called flamework. Each piece is created one at a time from rods of soda lime glass.
This glass is heated to molten temperature over a special torch and many different colors of glass can be used to create just one bead.
After Corey shapes the piece, she places it inside a kiln to be hardened in a controlled environment at a slow pace to prevent thermal shock.
“For this show, I’m turning fire into water. How cool is that?,” Corey asked.
Soos creates whimsical and sometimes rustic mosaic windows using stained glass and occasionally shells, crystals, stones and beach glass.
“Celebrating Water” includes Soos’ stained glass mosaics of Lake Tahoe and Sly Park Lake, among others.
To craft a mosaic window, Soos begins by making a metal frame and solders it around a piece of clear glass. Next, she cuts glass and arranges the pieces on the window, often rearranging pieces to match her changing vision.
The cut glass pieces are glued in place and then the piece is grouted and sealed.
This process allows her greater freedom of imagination and expression than she had in the past, when she created traditional stained glass windows with solder and lead.
“I think the end result is more interesting and I’m never sure exactly how a piece will turn out when it’s done,” Soos said. “It’s so much fun and I think that shows in my work.”
Aikenhead dons her fishing waders and spends hours in cold rushing rivers and ocean waves to capture the flow of water in her photography.
“I am pretty nervous when I’m standing in rapids with just a tripod between the water and my expensive camera equipment,” Aikenhead said. “But using slow shutter speeds and neutral density filters to create beautiful images of water is a magical experience. Water is constantly changing, so every photograph is unique.”
Even wildlife photography can require fishing waders and the willingness to stand in cold water for long periods of time waiting for the shot. When Lisa was photographing Coastal Brown Bears at Lake Clark National Park in Alaska, she hunkered down in several inches of ocean water in order to photograph bears at eye level as they hunted for clams in the Cook Inlet.
“One morning in particular was so peaceful. Dawn brought delicate colors of pink and orange — it felt like I was standing inside of a seashell. For several hours I watched a female bear foraging for clams and all I heard was the sloshing of water as she roamed the tidal flats and the occasional cawing of seagulls. It was unforgettably beautiful.”
Aikenhead’s contributions to “Celebrating Water” include slow-shutter speed photographs of Lake Tahoe, Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge and Iceland, as well as bears in the rivers and tidal flats of Alaska.
A reception featuring live music by the Western Lights Trio and complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres takes place Saturday, Sept. 20 from 5-9 p.m. at Gold Country Artists Gallery on Main Street in Placerville.
Corey, Soos and Aikenhead will be on hand to meet customers and share their art.
For more information contact Aikenhead at [email protected] or 530-647-1382.