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Meet the Artist: LeAnnMcGinley

Updated: May 6

When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist? My mother was a painter and sculptor. As I watched her work and visited museums and galleries, I knew there was something very special in the creative spirit. It seems I always wanted to find mine.

What type of art do you create? Fused glass

Will you give us some insight into how your journey as an artist began? My journey began later in life after I raised my family, gave back to my community, and settled into my career in higher education. I knew my spirit was waiting to be freed. With my mother an artist and my son a photographer, I wanted to find my own expression. I chose glass. My first attempt was with glass blowing at Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI) in San Jose. That process was too physically demanding so I explored fused glass at BAGI. I now work at Rosa Moderna Studio.

What are the highlights of your artistic career? Early in my career I was commissioned to create two dinner services. Those were daunting challenges, but they gave me confidence that others would engage with my expressions of color and form. Being a member of The Main Gallery gives me a supportive art community and the acknowledgement that I am, indeed, an artist. I look forward to showing my glass in Summer/Fall at the San Mateo Public Library and San Mateo City Hall.

Who are your biggest artistic influences? My early interests in art included the Impressionists and Andrew Wyeth. More recently I am influenced by Diebenkorn and Thiebaud. What else inspires your art? My inspiration usually begins with sheets of glass. The glass seems to speak to me and to tell me what it wants to become. My own photographs are another source of inspiration. It is still the glass that needs to speak as I try to recapture a moment in time.

How do you develop your artistic skills? I think most of my skills are traced to a keen eye and trust in my process. Exploring the work of other glass artists, researching techniques, and working in the studio with an accomplished mentor inform my work.

How would you describe your process? Large sheets of colored glass are the raw material for my work. The sheets are 35 inches by 17 inches and the glass is either transparent or opaque. I need to break down the sheets into smaller pieces. To cut the glass into smaller pieces, I score the glass with a tool and then use running pliers to break the glass along the score. Because the texture and density of each type of glass varies, cutting and breaking is always a challenge. I decide on a color palette, create a template, and cut the various sized pieces to fit into a pattern. This process can take several hours or several days. I can choose to incorporate glass frit, stringers, or previously created glass elements into a piece. I use tools such as a tile saw, sand blaster, grinders, and files to work the glass at various stages. The glass design, with its loose pieces, is reassembled in a kiln to be fused. The process of raising the temperature and cooling down takes about 24 hours. Since the color some glass can change during firing, I may be surprised when I open the kiln. The last stage is to put the fused piece on a mold or over a vessel for a second firing when the piece slumps or drapes into its final shape.

Which aspect of your medium challenges you the most?

Cutting dense glass by hand is inexact. Also, pieces can react negatively and unexpectedly in the kiln. How do you ensure that you continue to learn and improve? I access the online workshops from Bullseye Glass Resource Center

What do you hope viewers and collectors take away from your art? A new unique experience of color and form.

Is there anything else about your work you would like a potential customer to know?

That each piece is a unique art form that is functional (food safe) as well.

Is it difficult to part with your creation? I’m honored when someone chooses a piece for themselves of for someone else. It means my glass has spoken to him or her, not only to me. What it means to be an artist? An artist filters the world with different eyes and interprets that world in ways that welcome others into the experience.

What’s your take on the purpose or value of art? Art captures a moment in time that lives on through the engagement of others, not only with the first encounter but also in memory.

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