Helen Stolyarenko & Sasha Strekopytova travelled to the USA from Russia this past summer to work a two-month, 3 city internship. I was introduced to Helen and Sasha by Ken VonRoenn, Jr. at AGA, Inc. Ken and I thought it would be fun to learn about their experiences and I asked Helen and Sasha to be guest bloggers here at Looking At Glass. Helen and Sasha worked hard to write the blog post and I am so happy with what they have submitted. As a matter of fact, they did such a good job, they will be guest blogging for the next 3 days. So, without any further delay I would like to introduce you to Helen and Sasha…
Helen Stolyarenko & Sasha Strekopytova
Two young glass artists from Russia had a 2-months trip around the USA this summer and share their impressions of American glass, art and crafts
Hi! We are Helen and Sasha, two young glass artists from Russia, graduates of the Art Glass department of The Moscow Stroganov State Academy of Art and Design. (http://stroganovschoolofarts.ru/)
This summer, right after showing our diploma projects at the big final graduate assessment in the Academy, we made a great art trip across the USA. It was a bright 2-months journey with job practice, watching and learning American glass, arts and crafts, meeting great professionals, lots of new nice people, communicating, sharing information about Russian art glass, getting unforgettable experience in glass hotshops and studios, and finally just having lots of fun. We saw so many interesting things that we’d like to share with you right now.
Stop 1: Louisville, KY
Our first 3-weeks stop was Louisville, Kentucky, where we had an unforgettable internship in The Architectural Glass Art Inc. (http://www.againc.com), a big studio focused on projects involving glass to architecture. We were greatly impressed by their huge projects of glass decoration to public buildings, hospitals, universities, churches, conventional centres.
Kenneth VonRoenn, Jr., the president and the lead designer of the studio, was the first one to answer to our internship request, when we had just started planning the trip in early spring. We had e-mailed requests to hundreds of places, and among so many refusals or silence from other places to get an agreement from the leading architectural glass studio in the USA — what an unbelievable luck to us! We are still so grateful for this chance. So, after a long several-months visa-making process, we finally got to the first place of our big journey.
The Architectural Glass Art, Inc. is expanding the role of glass in architecture.
They work in a whole range of glass techniques, from painting, bending, slumping and laminating to sand-blusting and etching, combining these technologies with sophisticated design for projects all over the USA and abroad. It was so curious for us to see the whole process of working on commissions and using these technologies.
We had a chance to try a technique totally new to us — painting on glass with enamel frit. This is multicolored powder that you can apply to the glass surface with different thickness and grades of transparency — and see what happens after burning in the kiln.
We have also helped the guys executing one of the commissions, using enamels and dichroic glass.
It was fun! This is what was going to be a big bended lighted glass column.
We were greatly impressed by the AGA team, which is a group of so friendly and professional people. It was such a pleasure to work together and learn from them.
But the greatest experience that we’ve had in AGA, Inc. Is working on the task that Ken gave us: to make our own design projects for one of the studio commissions. It was a project of glass decoration with light to a 3-stories central lobby of a private house. Each of us made her own version of this project (sketches, schemes and a small-scaled model). Me, Helen, I used in my design project one similar glass model to construct a light installation in different combinations. It was supposed to remind feathers or small birds. Some textures or dichroic surfaces could be used in the models.
Me, Sasha, I used a spiral as the central motif of the installation. It’s made of lots of flat glass elements, which reflect the light with different angles and give shine to the whole light composition.
3 weeks passed so quickly, and it was time to go to the next place. To make it less sad to leave and to thank the AGA team, we’ve arranged a small Russian good-bye party, with a big table full of our homemade food. Pancakes with sour cream, mushrooms and red caviar, buckwheat, Russian salad, kvass (bread drink) and so on… To feed someone means in Russian tradition to show the highest level of care.
Thank you, AGA! Having shown our care and gratefulness, we got ready to move to the next point of our American journey…
Stay tuned for Helen and Sasha’s A Summer in the USA – Part 2!