Elizabeth Johnson

Biography

Elizabeth grew up in rural New Hampshire, where she spent many childhood hours outdoors picking and eating the berries she loves to make in glass. In those days nature-inspired television was a rare treat, and Elizabeth has strong memories of being allowed to stay up late to watch Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic specials. Those brilliant images of exotic fish, plants and insects never seen before made a powerful impression that still inspires her current work.

As a teenager and young adult, Elizabeth studied pencil drawing and oil painting in the photo-realistic style. She developed a passionate love of glass and made stained glass windows. Two events that inspired her to make her own glass sculpture occurred in the late 1990s. First, she saw the Blaschka Glass Flowers at Harvard. Then she traveled to Murano, where she saw the realistic glass insects made by internationally renowned flameworker Vittorio Costantini. During her first flameworking class Elizabeth made two glass irises. Thrilled with the qualities of the material and the potential to make extremely life-like sculptures, she set up a flameworking studio at home, where she continues to develop her skills.

Artist’s Statement

I am fascinated by the miniature. Staggering beauty, complexity and drama are present in the petals of flowers and the lives of insects. Yet my delight in these tiny worlds has always been tempered by frustration. Flowers fade, insects fly away, and berries become moldy all too quickly. Although I can visit the magical underwater world of coral reefs on film or even in scuba gear, those visits are brief by any standard. I can never get close enough to see all of the amazing details that are apparent to the tiny creatures who live there. My work in glass is an attempt to capture parts of these miniature worlds, and to freeze them in time so that they can be observed closely and enjoyed over and over again.