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News . Feature Stories . From Glass Blower to Artist: grad took full advantage of CIA's curriculum

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June 03, 2015

From Glass Blower to Artist: grad took full advantage of CIA's curriculum

Amanda Wilcox '15 dove into broad-based curriculum and opportunities to lead

By Cindi Deutschman-Ruiz

When Amanda Wilcox arrived at CIA, she was a glassblower. Today, Wilcox considers herself an artist. And she credits CIA’s broad-based curriculum with having inspired her evolution by encouraging her to pursue interests ranging from bookmaking to sculpture to literature.

Marc Petrovic ’91, chair of the Glass Department, described Wilcox as “intensely introspective and thoughtful. She has a great sensitivity to materials and the emotional subtleties of these materials. I am looking forward to how this will manifest itself in her future pieces.”

Indeed, her work has already earned accolades.

Wilcox won first in her category (Sculptural Glass) in the 2014 Niche Awards, sponsored by Niche magazine. Her piece, called “Cling,” incorporated hundreds of delicate strings of glass wrapped in copper. “Cling” also earned a Board of Directors award in last year’s Student Independent Exhibition, and is now in a private collection.

She was a finalist for a 2015 Niche Award, meaning she made it to the top five out of hundreds of entries, this time in the Functional Glass category for a series of elegant storage jars.

In her recent BFA installation, Wilcox demonstrated the increasingly multi-faceted nature of her work by involving “sound, projections, a lot of digital manipulation of images, and also moving into performance,” she said.

“I began with my grandmother’s [wooden] picture frame, making glass casings,” then melting the casings down to molten glass, and afterwards “blowing glass for 11 hours.”

Perhaps the most surprising part of her project was that Wilcox continually destroyed what she made, dropping her glass creations into water, where they shattered, and then beginning the whole process again.

She said the idea was to explore the interconnectedness of creation and destruction, life and death. “Time isn’t linear, and the memories of the past all blur into the present moment.”

The installation itself documented her process in multiple ways. A single sheet of highly textured handmade paper that she displayed was the end product of a handmade book Wilcox made from her grandmother’s objects, and then returned to pulp by submerging in water. From the pulp, she created the handmade paper; another example of creation, destruction and re-creation.

Clearly, a great deal of her motivation to evolve into a more conceptual artist was her fierce intellectual curiosity, but Wilcox did not only spend her time at CIA developing her artistic vision. She also threw herself into the life of the school, taking her place not just as an emerging artist, but as a member of the larger artistic community.

She was co-chair of this year’s Student Independent Exhibition, a heavy commitment that she says involved “meeting weekly for an entire year” with several other students. She also worked on CIA’s holiday sale, where students sell their artwork: glass, handmade books, ceramics, cards, and the like.

And, perhaps most impressively, Wilcox was selected this year as student representative for the Glass Art Society (GAS), where she’s been deeply involved working on the international organization’s annual conference.

She said she’s found it interesting to see how work gets chosen for lectures and demonstrations, to see how “the Board responds to different proposals, and what the glass community is interested in.”

As part of her duties, Wilcox also has spent a lot of time talking with heads of prestigious glass programs, which allows her “to form relationships with people I’ll be working with for the rest of my life.”

Wilcox is taking a break from school this year, but that in no way means she’s powering down. She was involved in the May 16 Slavic Village “Rooms to Let” exhibition, in which, as Cleveland Scene described it, “a team of artists… transform a dilapidated house into an enveloping art installation.”

She’s also applying to several different internships and looking forward to beginning her graduate work in visual culture studies next year.

Cindi Deutschman-Ruiz is a freelance writer/editor and instructor of journalism and mass communication. She lives on the West Side of Cleveland.

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Fueling up for today's final Pre-College classes and exhibition. Congrats to all the students who made such great work during your two weeks here! We'll see some of you next week when a new session begins. 🎉 https://t.co/5uP3tIQZxB

about 22 hours ago via Twitter

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