Saturday, May 29, 2021

A Part Together - solo show at farm projects

My solo sculptural installation at FARMA Part Together is a narrative journey. It is an exploration of ceramic material through hand-building and slip-casting. It is a weaving together of nature with human form, and of thoughts drifting during the making process, asking, seeking and exploring. 

The free-standing sculptures echo tree trunks where the roots sink into the ground.

The small pinched pods are like sprites popping among flowers.

The "remnant shells" are hollowed out remains, sometimes found enveloped in vines, home to insects and other magical creatures. The wrought iron wall mounts were forged by Ken Roby in his Ohio-based studio, The Village Blacksmith.

The word tiles are thoughts that surface during the making process. 

Growing up in St. Petersburg, Russia, I was surrounded by the historically rich world of Imperial Russia. Summers were spent outside the city, at my family dachya, not far from tsars’ summer marble and stone residences. In direct contrast, our rustic dachya was built by great-grandfather, Simon, with wood found on the property.   

Family legends describe Simon’s soft spoken demeanor and  the healing power of being in his presence. Great-grandpa Simon built the dachya after his return from Siberia. He served in exile after being found guilty of owning his own business. 

Surrounded by a deep pine forest, he found solace in working with his hands. Immersed in nature, it was an escape from busy city life, perhaps an escape from his Siberian experiences. His serene presence is still felt there. The meditative repetitive motion of hand-building with porcelain, connects me to experiences from the dachya. With nature as my muse, my work explores human vulnerability, fragility, unease, and resilience. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

all about change

This year is all about change, and adapting to the new. Even though the past six months have been incredibly challenging, I am, what feels like, on the other side. 

The Covid pandemic has forced me to close my brick and mortar shop, my wholesale business plummeted, but I have seen customers shop online in greater numbers, and with kind words of support and encouragement. 

I am in a new studio space, in a building populated by artists and entrepreneurs. For the first time since grad school, I feel part of an artist community where the building’s owner is invested in my success.  

It has taken me two months to set up the new space, moving studio is much more work than moving my house. The kilns are finally working properly just last week, and I am back to making. It has taken me some time to establish a routine. 

Here are some views of my new space, which I hope will be gleena’s home for a very long time. This is my seventh (lucky!) studio:

I have a nice showroom, where visitors are welcome, please make an appointment for a visit by emailing, or calling 216-310-5718.

The making studio is naturally separated from the showroom by the layout of the space. It feels quite different from one side to the other. I like this very clear separateness. 

The kiln goddess presides over all the firings, I created her in grad school almost 20 years ago. 

My two kilns, Big and Thor, which I have had for about ten years. They are a pain to move, mostly because they are so very fragile. Luckily, over the years, I have learned to fix any electrical issues that might arise. 

I was finally able to unpack my “remnant” series, an installation started in grad school, which I hope to continue exploring. Being in this space is urging me to create more sculpture.

The beginning of a sculpture, though the holiday season, which is a robber of free time, is right around the corner. I am hoping to have at least two pieces made by the end of the year.

I even have a small office, where I can catch up on computer work without getting clay all over the keyboard.

Friday, April 10, 2020

working while isolating

I am fortunate to be able to continue to work while many cannot due to the current Covid crisis. Studio life is generally an isolated life, and with the shop being closed since March 12th, it is just me in the space. The freedom from the regular hours of the shop allows me to run errand for my parents who live nearby and have been staying in. It is an odd, surreal experience to be driving on nearly empty streets every day. All days feel like Sunday morning due to no traffic. I am grateful for my work, the kilns which beg to be filled, to retain a bit of normalcy.

My focus has been on, filling the website with all the items from the physical store. It is a time-consuming endeavor, photographing and color-correcting images, measuring, uploading and describing product. I am offering free shipping for now.

The weather has been odd, in one day we had a thunderstorm, snow, sun, hail, high winds, temperatures from 60’s dropping to 30’s. As if nature is also confused as to what day or season it is.

A heartfelt thank you to customers, shops and galleries, to friends, neighbors, and family, who have reached out with words of support, love, encouragement and understanding. Thank you to my sweet customers who purchase online. I am grateful for all the kindness. With long daily walks I turn to nature for peace and inspiration. Spring is pushing forward regardless, with many flowers popping up despite weather’s mixed signals. Be well, everyone.

Friday, January 3, 2020

a very happy new year

Happy New Year! 2019 was a full and colorful year. The year was most notable for raising my very high-energy enthusiastic super friendly and funny pup named Bernie. He was able to come to the shop with me, until he grew too big and hairy.

Also new for 2019: the shop hosted many workshops, and a few open studio work sessions. During the summer months, when filling wholesale orders slowed down a bit, I had space to invite students who had taken my workshops to make any project they choose. It's been inspiring seeing student creativity and enthusiasm.

I feel that 2020 is a year of big change for me. I am looking forward to it. I hope it is a good year for you, too.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

jungle living

In January through February of 2009, I had the honor of living in the Amazonian rainforest for three weeks. I wanted to repost this blog entry as a reminder of what is being lost right now as the forest is being burned down. My heart is breaking.

02.19.09 For the past two weeks I have been living at a science research station located in the middle of a nature preserve deep in the rain forest. The jungle is rich with inspiration for my ceramics, from the voluptuous trees to the exotic insects and flowers. This is the only place in the Amazon where our little camp and the sister camp a few miles away are the only human dwellings as far as the eye can see. We are the intruders here, nature is quick to disassemble anything we erect. It is truly a humbling experience. I can't even bring myself to squash a cockroach, knowing that I am in his house.

The Inselberg and Pararé camps are well stocked with food and alcohol. A nightly ritual is to enjoy a small cocktail: rum, sugar, and lemon right off the tree. Everyone takes turns cooking dinner. Meals have been buttery, and yummy.

Sleeping in an open carbet (four posts and a plastic roof, no walls) in the jungle is quite the experience: it is never quiet, filled with frog, cricket, bird and cicada calls. The howler monkeys are probably the most startling. They sound like a soundtrack to a haunted house, a howling growling spooky wind. Last night their call sounded so close, as if they were perched on a tree above our carbet. They were incredibly loud. This afternoon they hung out in the trees eating leaves very near camp. The howlers' gentle ways are in stark contrast to their ferocious call.

Surrounded by scientists from all over the world gathering specimens for their Masters degrees and PhDs, the conversations are spectacular. I have learned so much about the insect and mammal world. I will spend months digesting this trip, and exploring it through my ceramic work.

jungle in hand

During my walks through the rain forest of French Guiana, I came upon fascinating flora, the shapes and textures of which endlessly provide inspiration for my work. Here is a small sampling of the incredible diversity I experienced there. All were quickly returned to the forest floor where they were found. Click on the images for a larger view.