Bexley News

Glasswork designed to inspire

Former Bexley resident hopes demonstrations lead young girls to world of art

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

An artist who works primarily in glass wants to help break a glass ceiling of sorts.

The art world remains male-dominated, Clintonville artist Lisa R. Horkin said last week, although women have been making strides.

Nevertheless, she feels drawn to inspire girls and women to follow in her footsteps -- and she hopes that inspiration takes hold when she puts on glass-blowing demonstrations at Franklin Park Conservatory or in other settings, including a series that begins Oct. 14 at her alma mater, the Columbus College of Art and Design.

"The kids have amazing questions," said Horkin, 50. "They love asking questions and talking. Even though they just watched it, sometimes they say, 'How did you do that?' "

Horkin said she enjoys demonstrating for classes of young students when one or two of them has a "light bulb" moment of thinking they, too, might want to become an artist.

"In particular, I'm glad to give that back to girls," she said. "I absolutely love to represent for girls ... that this is doable. It's not just a boy thing. You have to be strong, but you gain strength doing it -- and not just physical strength but all kinds of strength."

Horkin is a Columbus native who grew up in Bexley. Aside from traveling, she's spent her whole life in central Ohio.

"Art has been important to me for as long as I can remember," she said. "I spent a lot of time in the art room in high school."

Although she considered other careers, Horkin ultimately decided to attend CCAD, where she explored a variety of disciplines, including painting and ceramics as well as glass blowing.

"I love all forms of fine artwork," Horkin said. "I focused mainly on painting, and I focused in painting on the figure because I felt it was really important to have a strong core, being able to draw and paint for any art.

"I also did glass blowing while I was in school, and spent a lot of time in ceramics as well. I was always exploring, trying new things.

"Glass at the time, in the early '80s, it was very different then. Really, the glass movement was starting to change here in the United States ... from a craft to more of an art form. A lot of that had to do with Dale Chihuly bringing Italian masters to the United States, starting in the late 1970s."

Once she began her career, Horkin focused primarily on painting.

That was because didn't see glass blowing as a pursuit that was "viable in terms of affordability," and indeed, the equipment, materials and need for an assistant still make it an expensive craft.

In 2002, however, Horkin's husband, Scott W. Conover, suggested she take up glass blowing again. They eventually formed a glass-blowing team, and while Conover no longer is involved, Horkin's company is called Horkover Glass -- a melding of their last names.

Heeding her husband's urging, Horkin sought to pick the techniques back up at Grandview-area art studio Glass Axis, then in the old Belmont Casket Building in what is now the Arena District.

"Actually, I was a little bit shy about going in there for years previous, and really, it took my husband's encouragement to make me say, 'I will,' " Horkin recalled. "It was not like riding a bicycle. If my mother didn't have pieces I had blown in college, I wouldn't believe I had blown glass before.

"It's a very expensive art form to do. I would be in the studio all the time if I could afford it. If I go several months, which I try not to let happen ... and I come back into the studio, it probably takes four to eight hours for that muscle memory to come back. The things I'm making in that time are not necessarily going to be on spot, and I'm paying for those eight hours or so to get back my skills."

But when that muscle memory returns, the techniques are honed, the skills renewed, and a piece she saw in her mind's eye is there before her to see, Horkin said that can be a special experience.

"There's a physical satisfaction and a visual satisfaction," she said. "When you see that come to form, it's very fulfilling and gratifying. That's true of any art that I do. If it comes from my head and my imagination and it comes to reality, there's satisfaction in that."

Of course, selling pieces at galleries or at her website, horkover.com, can be special as well.

"Part of that is, somebody enjoys your work enough to own it," Horkin said. "It's that somebody enjoys what I do as much as I do that I'm able to continue doing art."

Beginning Oct. 14, Horkin will work two days a week at CCAD with Dawson R. Kellogg, an associate professor of fine arts who teaches glass blowing, along with some of his advanced students. It will give Horkin an opportunity to inspire young people to pursue the art form as well as enable her to produce 20 or so of her own works, including vessels and sculptures.

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