Glistening glass reflects much of Hannah Kirkpatrick's resume. Her shameless wonder for the way light and neon bends between is evident in her work, much of which has been displayed in the NEON District of Norfolk.
The 27-year-old New Jersey native moved to Norfolk five years ago when an assistant position became available at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. Now an instructor, Kirkpatrick also has a personal studio above the Glass Wheel Studio.
“I started as a painter and drawer from a young age and through high school but became enamored by the process of glass during my later years in high school and college,” she says. “Although I like other materials and do work with them, there is so much potential and challenge with glass that it makes it hard to step away from.”
Surprisingly, you don’t need a lot of wind power to blow glass. “It’s not like you need to fill your chest up and exhaust yourself,” Kirkpatrick explains. While you don’t need to use much of your lungs, she doesn’t suggest you blow glass if you have weaker lungs. Depending on the piece, one person will blow, while the other does the turning and tooling of the glass, forging it into different shapes. Glassblowers also use a blow hose attached to the blowpipe while shaping on their own. “Sometimes I want a very specific breath, and I can’t really rely on somebody else for that.”
In fact, her Unconditional Love piece was a lovely happenstance. “My creative process starts with a seed of an idea that I have to let grow through trial and error,” Kirkpatrick explains. In her earlier days of sealing tubes for neon, she first attempted Green Afterimage, a neon piece that she wanted to fill with red gas. The idea was to see if her viewers saw its complementary color, green, after reading the word. However, when she went to fill it with gas, instead of revealing the word ‘green,’ it appeared to look like an EKG graph and became what is now Unconditional Love. She later completed Green Afterimage in 2013.
The artist currently works in three part-time roles assisting local artist Charlotte Potter, teaching students of The Governor's School for the Arts how to bend neon and as an instructor at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. Though still crushing on glass, Hannah is now exploring architecture, its symbolism and negative space within buildings, specifically windows. She’s also had much work with camera obscuras and plans to perform at the Glass Arts Society Conference in Norfolk in June 2017.
To learn more about Hannah and view her portfolio, visit HannahKirkpatrick.com.