Deep Reflections by Jo Perez
Welcome Jo Perez.
How was it that you started working with stained glass?
I met a woman named Elizabeth Grafton around 1978, who had started doing stained glass in her sixties. She was living in Fayetteville, West Virginia and had been an artist for years. She made beautiful large, jeweled installations with Blenko Dalles. Up until that time, I had been planning on setting up a pottery studio and doing some painting. I was recently out of the University of Maryland Art Department and was making a home for myself in West Virginia.
Well, when I saw what Elizabeth was doing, I knew THAT LIGHT and that color had captured me! I was overcome and hooked. The design opportunities and compositional challenges offered what pottery could not give me. So I started playing with sheet glass, aided by Elizabeth's daughter, my friend, Linda Grafton.
Sadly, Elizabeth passed away a few years ago at the age of 99 and left a beautiful legacy of church and private installations all over West Virginia.
Where does the inspiration for designs/work come from?
I find inspiration from so many places. I take any inspiration I can get. I have been influenced by other artists, my multicultural heritage and by good old Mother Nature. We live in such a beautiful universe! The Sand Man has also helped me by giving me images in my dreams.
Who influenced you the most, or helped you along the way?
Once I set upon the stained glass road, the influences came from friends, family, books, etc. My mother is a quilter and has a talented eye. My glass quilt squares and appreciation for beauty come directly from her.
When the Internet became a medium of communication for artists, there was much to glean. Joining various groups such as Association of Stained Glass Artists and AISG as well as participating in various chat groups was very helpful. Other artisans have been my greatest helpers and teachers.
When have you ever been frustrated/disappointed with the material?
The materials rarely disappoint. It is myself that fails. The most frustrating thing is when I break something just as it is nearing completion. This is called rushing and being careless. I get "out of the zone" and loose my feel for the glass and lead. My desires and emotions become separate from the unfolding process of art. When I get like this or am tired, I have to put the work down and approach it when I'm fresh. I have a rule for glass and the garden. Don't bring any negative energy to the tasks, better to wait.
What is your favorite glass and why? How did you use it?
Each glass has its own voice. Using the right glasses can produce a visual symphony. There is a place for cheap glass but I just love Blenko for cathedral glass! That must be because Blenko was the glass that first caught my eye and converted me from other art forms. It has an incredible life and personality but can be a challenging glass to work with. I can happily spend a day searching the glass racks at Blenko for "treasures".
For lamps, I love Uroboros and Youghiogheny. The subtle and rich colors with surprises mixed in will always get my vote. When I order it, I can't wait to see what will arrive, what swirls, what nuance of color, what blends. The glass can go from placid to turbulent on the same sheet. This is the glass one can paint with to create a garden, landscape or purely abstract form.
The right glass in the right place in juxtaposition to others in a composition of line, color, texture and shape should ultimately drive the choice of glass in a piece.
You can check out more of Jo's work in the members gallery