art in the family

How is creativity inherited?

It’s a question as old the debate of nature and nurture itself—a discussion that dates back as far as Plato (Team Nature) and Aristotle (Team Nurture). Even today, geneticists, sociologists, and philosophers alike wrestle with explaining the where, when, and why of artistic talent and vision: How is it that Johann Sebastian Bach produced two generations of noteworthy artists? Wherefore the Klimt brothers?

In this metaphysical tug-of-war, we’re delighted to shift our focus from the why to the who, taking a look at a handful of remarkable artists who’ve passed their skill, perspective, and inspiration to the next generation—namely, their kin. And no, we’re not talking the Bachs, Brontës, or Pollocks. Read on to learn about the Huntings, the Earleys, and several other talented artists whose work is represented by Artful Home.

Wes Hunting and Justin Hunting

Wes Hunting spent nearly three decades working with glass and developing his design perspective before his son, Justin, took up the blowpipe in 2005. Today, after more than a decade under Wes’s tutelage, Justin frequently teams up with his father to brainstorm projects or even assist on large-scale pieces in the latter’s studio.

When you work in the same medium—and side by side, no less—it seems likely your artwork would draw comparisons. And yet the two Huntings’ pieces couldn’t be more different: Wes’s signature glass sculptures are defined by robust, intricate surface designs, while Justin’s work focuses on examining the complexity of form in arresting, abstract pieces.

Left: Crystal Optical II by Wes Hunting
Right: Transparent Remnant in Amethyst & Teal by Justin Hunting

 

This contrast, Justin says, is rooted in Wes’s studied influence on his son’s artistic approach. “As he began to educate me in glass work, one of the most inspiring concepts he taught me was to be aware of my originality,” he says. “He would say to keep experimenting with the material, and to always create work that is not directly derivative of other artists’ work.”

That inspiration is a two-way street. “I had found that as I was assisting my son with his study in glass, I was, in a sense, rediscovering glass myself,” Wes says. “This dynamic certainly had an influence on my work from that point onward.”

Wes Hunting (left) working with his son, Justin Hunting (right).

 

Shop Wes Hunting’s artwork here     Shop Justin Hunting’s artwork here

 

Lindsay Locatelli, Dean Pulver, and Abby Salsbury

For jewelry artist Lindsay Locatelli, furniture maker Dean Pulver, and ceramicist Abby Salsbury, artistry is a tie that binds in their family. Niece Locatelli is known for her dimensional adornments carved from polymer clay, uncle Pulver coaxes exquisite woods into furniture with rhythmic lines, and aunt (and Pulver’s wife) Abby Salsbury builds cheery, abstracted designs in ceramic serveware—all radically different media that would seem to produce distinct results.

Upper left: Single Balance Earrings by Lindsay Locatelli.
Upper right: Large Deco Plate in Green by Abby Salsbury.
Bottom: Rhythms Table by Dean Pulver.

 

Pulver says his family’s artistic bond has less to do with the materials at hand and more with the family’s shared support. “Sometimes there are conversations that only make sense to other artists,” Pulver says. “And the struggles can be unique to artists, so being able to share and discuss these issues with the closeness of a family member is pretty special.”

Discussions like these were instrumental in the pursuit of his own goals, says Pulver, who recalls how his own creative parents (Locatelli’s grandparents) planted the seeds that fostered his artistic aspirations. Their enthusiastic encouragement and expressive approach to artistry is something that’s rippled outward to his wife and niece.

Left to right: Dean Pulver with Lindsay Locatelli; Lindsay Locatelli with Abby Salsbury.

 

“Through time together, [my and Salsbury’s] work, thoughts, and processes have become more similar and relative but still very individualized,” says Pulver. “Now my niece, Lindsay, has brought a new youthful, fresh, personal take on influences from our family and her generation’s perspective on design and creativity.”

Locatelli sees a stronger similarity in the nature of their work. “I think all three of us gravitate toward creating funky personalities or movements through shape and color that push the object away from being conventional or practical to fascinating and expressive,” Locatelli says.

 

Shop Lindsay Locatelli’s artwork here Shop Abby Salsbury’s artwork here
Shop Dean Pulver’s artwork here

 

Shawn Messenger, Jack Schmidt, Ian Schmidt, and Zachary Schmidt

Fostering creativity in the next generation is just as much about exposure and practical application as it is about innate ability, says glass artist Shawn Messenger. “I think that artistry runs in the family, but it has to be nurtured in order for a child to see that it can be an important part of one’s life,” she says. For Messenger and her husband, glass sculptor Jack Schmidt, that meant trips to the museum and an ever-flowing supply of crayons for their two sons, Ian and Zachary.

Garden Series Vase in Turquoise and Lime by Shawn Messenger

 

Now grown, both of Messenger and Schmidt’s children have followed creative career paths: Zachary is an accomplished graphic designer, while Ian has gone on to blow glass at institutions like Corning Museum, among other artistic pursuits.

Observing his parents’ painstaking, reverent work with the medium helped solidify Ian’s desire to work in the field of fine craft, he says, citing his mother’s signature caneworking as a direct inspiration for his current artwork. And yet, their influence extends far beyond those measurable factors—it’s about glass as his family’s common thread.

“There is this concept of a legacy that I love about making glass, that I can give my son a glass cup one day and say his grandma made that for him,” he says. “The passing down of knowledge really has always driven my passion for glass, and my family has always been the source for that inspiration.”

Ian Schmidt (left) and Shawn Messenger (right) blowing glass at the Toledo Museum of Art.

 

Shop Shawn Messenger’s artwork here

 

Renee Roeder-Earley and Olive Earley

Creative influence comes full circle in the Earley family, say mother and daughter artists Renee Roeder-Earley and Olive Earley.

Growing up, Olive says art was a regular part of life as she observed her mother, who studied painting and sculpture, craft her elaborate millinery and vibrant accessories. This exposure, along with her mother’s tutelage in the ways of sewing (and, Renee says, perfectionism!), led Olive to pursue an education in fiber arts.

Left to right: Aster Felt Flower Pin, Daisy Felt Flower Pin, and Trillium Felt Flower Brooch by Renee Roeder-Earley

 

A student of costume design, Olive crafts everything from intricate sculptural figures rendered in fiber to costumes for stage and film. Now, it seems to Renee, the student has become the master.

“I think I have learned a lot about technique from [Olive], things I wished I had learned a long time ago,” she says. “Everything I know I learned from her.”

Renee Roeder-Earley (left) and Olive Earley (right).

Shop Renee Roeder-Earley’s artwork here

By |2018-08-28T14:30:12+00:00June 27th, 2018|artist spotlights|

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