Member Monday: Rene Culler

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Member Monday: Rene Culler

posted on 6:20 PM, May 16, 2016
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Image: Rene Culler, "Fecundity" from the Alabama Suite; fused glass, enamels

 

Tell us about yourself!

I'm from Cleveland, OH and moved 1,000 miles south to found, teach, and coordinate the glass program at the University of South Alabama. We live in Mobile only 45 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico and 10 minutes from Mobile Bay. I live with my husband Russ and my pooch, Lucky. We all enjoy the Gulf shrimp.

I began working with glass during high school, sandblasting designs on vessels. After two children, I returned to school at the Cleveland institute of Art for a BFA in 1992 and then on to Kent State for my MFA in glass; I haven't stopped making glass: at Kent State as interim head of glass, and then in my studio before arriving in South Alabama.

What draws you to the material you work with, and why have you chosen the processes that you use in your work? What themes do you pursue in your work?

I work with glass because it reveals light that can be refracted and absorbed, giving a sculpture a "personality." I make work in the kiln and I blow glass. I have combined the two since 1992 to create blown and kiln-transformed glass. This allows me to combine objects to create scale and work with interesting color applications. These sculptures are based on the journey to find perfection, influenced by the cards of the Tarot, and are called the Grail Variations. I really like pattern and influences from ancient glass as can be seen in my Painted Pot series that are blown forms and multi-colored with applied trailings. I have created work for the wall that satisfies my tendencies to want to paint and draw. I prefer adapting these techniques to work in glass rather than canvas or paper, as in glass,  pattern and line can actually be layered to create depth. Because I am interested in multi-cultural medieval history centered around the Mediterranean, I am fascinated with the order of Islamic design as it is rooted in both the spiritual and the natural world including the orbits of the planets.

What is your dream project?

I will be embarking on a dream project that allows me to work in large scale! It is an installation for the Mobile Museum of Art this summer with the subject of the Diverse Delta and its natural forms. The space is 28 feet wide and more than 20 feet high.I will be making panels with delta imagery that will be arranged in a grid. I hope this is the beginning of more large scale work and installations.

If you weren't working in this field, what career would you choose?

I can't think of anything I would prefer to do than to work with glass. My career as a professor allows me to initiate students into the wonderful world of glass by sharing with my teaching and my writing, Glass Art for the Kiln. Although the students keep me busy, I am writing my second book, Imagery in Glass.

What's something about you that most people don't know?

Most people don't know that I love old retro wooden roller coasters. If given the opportunity during my travels, I am always happy to take a ride.

Why are you a member of GAS?

I first joined GAS in about 1990 and have found it rewarding in the friends I have made, the information about glass that I have learned, and my opportunity to present.  I look forward to attending the conference and introducing my students to GAS, its members, and the excellent Corning Museum of Glass.

Click here to view Rene's profile.


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