“My work is rooted in the process of creating. I’m in love with the act of blowing glass, and with its optical properties,” says Randi Solin.
Randi Solin didn’t always set out to become an artist. Her early ambitions were political in nature — she wished to be a senator so that she could make a difference in people’s lives. However, upon her arrival at college, she witnessed another student blowing glass and decided to alter her course and create art instead. With no prior background in art, she found it challenging indeed — but she managed through art school on grit and determination. Today, she has been making art glass for over 25 years.
Perhaps this unique approach to her career in art is what led her to her own extraordinary style. Solin explains:
I incorporate techniques found in both classic Venetian glassblowing and the American Art Glass movement. However, I approach my work two-dimensionally, like a painter to a canvas or a weaver using thread to create an intricate tapestry. My glass pieces are compositions, and, atypical to glass blowing in general, they have a “front.” Generally, my forms have an Asian-influenced simplicity, which allows for my complex and painstaking coloration process to unfold. I build layer upon layer of color using glass in all particle sizes — powder, cane, frit, and rod — like a painter’s palette, to create original coloration and truly one-of-a-kind work.
My optics serve as the window into my coloration process — into the “soul” of a piece — allowing the viewer to peer into its life, like the rings of a tree. All of my pieces are intellectually created on the notion that with each finished work, a history is revealed. My layering and coloration process is all about showing that the piece was made over time. I accentuate each individual layer, which for me is a tremendously important component to my work. My optics — the cut and polish, the juxtaposition of this organic form with this stark hard edge — is unique to my work and a signature of sorts. My work requires the viewer to interact with the piece, to hold it, pick it up, to look into its interior life, to feel its incredible weight and mass, and to engage with its optics and its coloration.
“My work is a juxtaposition of weighted organic form and sharp polished edges.”
Each of Solin’s pieces has its own distinct inspiration and process. She explains:
The inspiration for the ‘Aquos Rectangle’ came from a request from the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. They were having a grand opening for the world’s largest aquarium, and the piece was designed for the event. The ‘Aquos Rectangle’ is hand-shaped, mold-blown glass off the pipe with a triptych coloration including gold and green aventurine and a multi-layer of sterling silver leaf and white cane. It has an angled cut and polished top. I designed the ‘Aquos Rectangle’ to use the juxtaposition of the hard, rigid corners of the form with the movement and fluid nature of the coloration.
Solin‘s inspiration is often found in the pages of National Geographic magazines. She pulls the essence of exotic locales into her work, traveling vicariously through the images and then the glass. Her piece “Malibar” alludes to the spices found in the Malabar region of India. “Glacier” appears to be born of the same ice it is named for, with layers of blues and greens that play with the light.
Not only is Solin committed to creating incredible pieces of art, but she is also highly engaged with teaching and continuing the education of the next generation of artists. Having been a school teacher prior to working in glass full-time, she currently teaches courses on glassblowing in the space she shares with ceramic artist Natalie Blake. The two have created a destination arts facility; the website states its purpose “for the creation, instruction, and promotion of silica-based arts (main ingredient in both glass and clay). Fundamental to our mission is making fine crafts accessible to a wide range of people.” Solin‘s passion has come full circle — her original plan was to positively affect people’s lives, and she’s achieved that goal without ever needing to run for office.