Conversation with glass artist, Jennifer Kuhns
I have always been an artist, working in charcoal, pastels, acrylic, linocut, collage, clay and even wire jewelry. But, at age 30, I was asked to use some scrap tiles for a mosaic, and the process of smashing tiles and piecing them back into a design was so satisfying, I was hooked.
What common threads of vision in color, style or technique do you share with other artists defined as Northwest in style?
I focus on the incredible relationship we humans have with nature, and try to personify that symbiosis in my images. I think many Northwest artists are driven by the same motivations, and are also inspired by the amazing landscape around us. We are surrounded by ocean, mountains, rainforests, salmon runs, birds, honeybees, etc, and these are the things that we need to celebrate in order to stay proactive and functional.
When did you decide to start partnering with business clients to bring your art to a more public and building-oriented audience?
Mosaic has been used architecturally for thousands of years, and it is a perfect medium for buildings and public spaces. I have been most inspired by the work of artists who used mosaic as a surface application on a grand scale. Suddenly, every gray concrete wall looked unfinished to me. I love to visit places like Prague and Istanbul, where there is ornamentation everywhere, and it’s a feast for the senses. After a few years of showing mosaic art at Olympia’s ArtsWalk festivals, I began to get calls from restaurant and home owners asking if I could do their projects, and I was excited to say yes!
Name your favorite mosaic work you have done in the area?
Swing Wine Bar is still my favorite because the atmosphere was fun and colorful, yet dignified and upscale. I created six mosaic panels on clear glass (I took apart some old windows) which were inset into an overhang around the bar that doubles as storage on the inside. Two more panels were set into a countertop, and I created a large mosaic sign for outside, and all of it is lit from behind, so it glows. It is the first thing people notice when they walk in, and I love how well the mosaic is integrated with the overall design of the space.
What are some future mosaic goals you would like to accomplish?
A goal of working with organizations and neighborhoods to create mosaic murals on blighted buildings and retaining walls. Mosaic can be very beautiful, therapeutic and empowering; individuals don’t need to be able to draw to contribute, and the result is a permanent piece of artwork that belongs to everyone and enhances the neighborhood.