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Not Your Grandma's China

Spartanburg Artist Exhibits Fused Glass at Co-op in April

Self-taught artist Judy Martin will exhibit her latest collection of fused glass creations, Not Your Grandma’s China, at West Main Artists Co-op from Tuesday, April 2, through Saturday, May 4. The public can view her exhibit at no charge Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. She will hold a public reception on Thursday, April 18, 5:30-9 p.m. during the city’s monthly ArtWalk.

The art of fused glass entails fusing or joining different pieces of glass -- often colored glass -- together into creative shapes and forms through heat, most often in a kiln. At lower temperatures, the pieces of glass retain their original shape; at higher temperatures, the glass pieces melt and meld into each other, creating sculptures both large and small.

“Glass doesn’t need to be flat or boring. Many things can be done with glass and color,” Martin said. “I am inspired by color. Colors within our everyday life.  I enjoy color in nature and bringing it inside with fused glass. People will see glass in different forms, not flat and lifeless. Hopefully they will smile and think of it in the future.”

This will be an eclectic exhibit of about 30 pieces. Some will be large; others will be small. Some will be freestanding; others will hang on walls. All of the work will be for sale, ranging in price $30 to $400.

“The work in this show is characteristic of my work in general,” she said. “Eclectic and seldom will you see more than one of a kind.”

Martin was born and reared in rural western New York state and has always tried to nurture her creative urges. She took many art classes in high school and hoped it would to lead to a career. However, life experiences took her in another direction and her artistic career was put on hold.  She spent most of her adult life in sales and focused her creative efforts on home improvements, including designing, building, and decorating unique spaces indoors and out.

Eventually, life cooperated and offered up an opportunity for Martin to pursue her dreams. She started with stained glass but soon found herself drawn toward fused glass creations. She searched for instructional resources but finding none, she decided to teach herself.  Using online resources, reading, investigation, and most importantly trial and error, she became an accomplished fused glass artist.

“Learning to fuse glass for any real artist is a never-ending learning process because one can never know it all,” Martin said. “Success requires consistent hard work and dedication to the art.  Trial, error, disappointment, fulfillment—all part of the process. And the true artist will never be just satisfied. The true artist will always strive for and continue to give more.”

Martin believes she is a true artist. She has a private studio, Artistic Glass Fusions, in rural South Carolina, where she teaches and creates specialty commissioned pieces. Retired, she and her husband have lived in South Carolina for the past 12 years. She has been a member of West Main Artists Co-op for about one year. “I have enjoyed being part in shows in North and South Carolina,” she said. “My work is displayed in Mayville, NY and has been on display in Winnsboro, SC, and Tryon, NC.  I was excited to be juried into the Art Fields exhibit in 2018.

“I enjoy teaching others this art in my studio or sometimes at Tryon Arts and Crafts,” she continued. “Commission pieces are especially fun for me; it is making someone else’s idea in a finished piece of fused glass.

“I have been working with glass fusing for more than 12 years. I feel I have learned more through my years of trial and error, many fails and much disappointment than I would have by someone teaching me. I started with the basics of bowls, plates, garden stakes, and now enjoy commissions, which challenge my limits. I have turned a white piece of glass into what looks like a tombstone. I still will make a plate but it needs to be some new process that I am learning which I can incorporate into the piece,” she said. “Most important, glass isn’t as fragile as you think.”

West Main Artists Co-op is one of Spartanburg’s leading nonprofit art agencies. As a membership-based organization, it has more than 50 visual and performance artists. Each month, the Co-op hosts three month-long exhibits and receptions during ArtWalk. Located at 578 West Main Street in Spartanburg, the Co-op is housed in what was a church. It has about 30 individual working and/or gallery studios. Also, it has three public galleries, including The Venue, which is the largest in the converted sanctuary. The Co-op has the largest collection of for-sale locally made of artwork in the county. For more info, please visit online WestMainArtists.org.