A Glassy Lady
by Donna Rhodes
Terri Johansson is a visual artist and a devoted child of Mother Nature. She and her husband hike, dive, kayak, snorkel, and fish some of the most exquisite natural wonderlands in Florida and North Carolina.
With her artist’s eyes always on ready, she says, “When I am in the wild, I see scenes in glass.”
Why glass, when from childhood to adulthood she studied and practiced drawing and painting?
She says, “I was hooked at the annual celebration of all that Iowa State University offered. They had glass blowing, and I was mesmerized watching them. I enrolled in Art and Design at ISU, but wanted to sculpt, paint and do everything I could, so decided to blaze my own trail.”
And that trail led her eventually to painting pictures with glass.
She knew glasswork was going to be an expensive endeavor. She wanted to feel darn sure it promised to be a lifelong love affair. Turns out it was. She gobbled up every how-to article, blog, and book on the subject of glass annealing/fusion. And now she is traveling around the Southeast displaying her work, enjoying a strong following, while taking commissions in the U.S., Canada, Northern Europe, Australia, and more.
When Terri describes her process in videos produced by The Bascom (go to thebascom.org and search Terri Johansson’s pop-up video) one can appreciate the intricacies and number of kiln firings that fusing and annealing require … often upwards of 20 passes. That’s 20 opportunities for something to snap, crackle, pop. But she has fine-tuned her temperature settings to minimize mishaps.
Glass lends itself nicely to the blossoms and foliage of spring, summer, and fall. And winter’s stark elegance of bare, mono-chromatic trees contrasting a pale sky is supremely dramatic.
One of Terri’s best loved icons is the cardinal bird. There is a legend that cardinals represent the souls of loved ones who have passed and fly back to visit. Clients frequently commission a cardinal piece to sustain them when the birds are scarce. Trees are also a common image in her repertoire, along with fish, bears, blossoms, undersea life, and nearly any natural scene – Nature being her sole inspiration. Whatever you might imagine for that perfect customized door, glass for a kitchen cabinet, a door for an entertainment center, or a window for a bathroom, Terri can accommodate.
To see and learn more about Terri’s work, visit terrijohanssonartist.com.