“ I enjoy the idea of creating a painting which can be looked at from more than one point of view. With each turn one discovers a different aspect of the picture. This reminds me that there is always more than one way to look at life.”
Alison Ruzsa’s subjects interact playfully with each other, as they enjoy elements of nature, art, or whimsy. Her subjects seem to exude a light hearted absorption in their activities. The result is a kind of hypnotizing spell on viewers, as we mentally place ourselves in the middle of the delightful, captivating scene.
Alison began working in glass in 1991, at a small glass school in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. She moved to New York shortly thereafter to pursue a career at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop. There she became fascinated by the techniques being used by Fred Kahl who incorporated painted inclusions in the glass. During a class at PIlchuck with Fred and pike Powers, she attempted her first multi-layer piece. This initial experiment developed into a decade long exploration of the techniques seen in her work today.
Starting with the images drawn from her experience as a print maker, she initially used black paint and concentrated on the information conveyed by the gestures of the human form in silhouette. Later, she introduced colored paints, more detailed subjects, and surface designs created by cold working the glass and, adding other elements.
Each of her pieces begins with a small gather of hot glass drawn from the furnace, which is then shaped, and cooled down to room temperature in an annealing oven. When the glass has cooled it is ready to be painted. Ruzsa uses paints, which have been specially formulated to withstand the intense heat of the glass furnace.
Color is applied to the glass in layers. For example, first laying down the color for the facial features, then the flesh tones, and again for the hair. “ You can think of it as a combination of reverse, and positive painting techniques. The end result of this process makes it possible to see both the front and the back of the image, as one move around the work.” The glass is also applied in layers. After the first set of images has been painted, the glass is returned to the annealing oven and slowly brought back up to a working temperature. It is then picked up on the end of a blowpipe, and a fresh gather of hot glass is applied, and carefully shaped so as not to distort the images. The piece is then cooled again in the oven, and is ready for another layer of images. This process is repeated, up to five times to create an environment where the clear glass becomes the “space” in the painting. Once the final cooling has been completed, the piece is then often cold worked for weeks; sawing, grinding, sandblasting, and engraving, are just a few of the things that may eventually be incorporated into the final form of the glass.
Since 1995 Ruzsa has been working at Pier Glass in Brooklyn, NY, with Mary Ellen Buxton, and Kevin Kutch. While continuing her work in Brooklyn, Alison also enjoys spending time, working with other artists, and teaching in Venice, Italy.
Selected Artistic Experience
Pier Glass, Brooklyn, NY
Assistant to independent glass studio owners Mary Ellen Buxton and Kevin Kutch.
Assist in all aspects of glassworking, including blowing, coldworking, and equipment construction and maintenance as well as produce my own work. April 1995 to present.
Centro Studio Vetro, Venice, Italy
Guest artist and teaching assistant for Fusing course with Miriam Difiore and Kieth Rowe, 2003
Vetroricerca, Balzano, italy,
Group project with Miriam Difiore and Kieth Rowe, 2003
Art Academy Of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Visiting Artist, taught weeklong workshop in Paradise Paints, slide lecture and demonstrations, 2000, 2001
Working Glass Studio
Lampworker, Produced flameworked utensils from pyrex rod. October 1995- October 1996
Urban Glass, Brooklyn, NY
Head Studio Manager; Oversaw all day-to-day operation of 14,000-square-foot glass studio, including
management of all studio staff, equipment construction and maintenance, coordination of class and public- access studio schedules, procurement of all supplies. Promoted from entry-level position. January 1993 to April 1995.
Teaching assistant; Assisted Fred Kahl in Hot Color Application; James Mongrain in Glassblowing 1; and David Mastney in Neon 1. January 1993 to April 1995.
Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA
Teaching assistant; Assisted Tina Aufiero in Advanced Mold-Making Techniques. August 1994. Assisted Fred Kahl and Pike Powers in Hot, Cold, Hot (Paradise paints). June 1993.
Golden Glass School and Studio, Cincinnati, OH
Artist Liaison and teaching assistant; Helped to acclimate various artists to studio and surrounding area. Assisted Christine J. Barney in Glassblowing 1 and 2. January 1990 to June 1992.
University of Cincinnati, B.F.A. Fine Arts; Concentration, Sculpture, 1991 Cincinnati Technical College, completed 24 hours of horticulture credits.
Centro Studio Vetro , Hot sculpting with Pino Signoretto, 2001
Urban Glass, New York Experimental Glass Workshop, Sculpting Hot Glass with Fred Kahl, 1993. Paradise Paints with Ruth King and Paul Marioni 2000
Golden Glass School and Studio, Glassblowing 1 and 2 James Shumate and Christine Barney, 1991- 1992.
Eastern Onion Singing Telegrams, Singing telegram performer 1982 -1992, St Mary’s Cemetery, Groundskeeper 1981-1983, Tomas Tisch Studios, Bookkeeper, 2005- 2015
Alison Ruzsa Selected Exhibitions
Visiting Lecture Northern Paperweight Society, England 2016
Celebrate the Paperweight, L.H. Sleman, Chicago, Il. 2012/2014
Gallery North Setauket, NY, Fifty Years of Studio Glass, 2012 Syd Entel Gallriies, Sarasota, FL, Fifteen Women Strong
2012 Hawk Galleries, Columbus OhioTwo person show with, Shane Fero Intimate Worlds, Feb 2006
L. H. Selman, Solo Exhibition, Nov, 2003
Mostly glass Gallery Solo exhibition 2003
Glass Weekend/Paperweight Weekend, alternating years ;Wheaton Village, Millville, NJ Represented by L. H. Selman,/Mostly Glass Gallery/Gem Antiques, 2003, 2005,2007,2009,2010,2012,2014,2016
Guilford Handcraft Center, Guilford, CT
North American Glass 2002, Group Exhibition, 2002
Glass Impact, Rock Island, Il
Elements: Earth Water Wind and Fire, Group Exhibition, 2002
L. H. Selman Ltd. Santa Cruz, Ca Gallery representation, 2002
Mostly Glass Gallery, Englewood, NJ
Paintings in Glass and With Glass, 2 person exhibition with Miriam Di Fiori, 2001
SOFA- Chicago, NY
Represented by Mostly Glass, 1999, 2000, 2001,2003,2004,2005,06,07,09,10
Hodgell Galleries, Sarasota, FL
Glass Invitational, group exhibition, 2000
Mostly Glass Gallery, Englewood, NJ Seasons and Time, group exhibition, 2000
Hope Collection, Sante Fe, NM
This is Glass, group exhibition, 2000
College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cin, OH Glass Houses, Solo exhibition of glass sculpture, 1999
Mostly Glass Gallery, Englewood, NJ
Her Glass, 2 person exhibition with Claudia Lezame, 1999
Aperto Vetro, Murano, Italy
Invitational exhibition of international glass, 1998