Marlene Rose takes the sandcast glass sculpture to dazzling heights

In Rose’s “Covenant of Light” exhibition at Buckhead Art & Company through November 13, visitors can see and feel for themselves what inspired the television producer – and countless others.

Credit: Felix Kunze and Jen Anderson

Credit: Felix Kunze and Jen Anderson

Rose recently spoke to ArtsATL about the alchemy of glass, the joy of parting with the things she loves, and being an artist.

Q: Glass art is a male dominated field. Why do you think women shy away from discipline?

A: I wasn’t interested in doing this technique (at first) because I was intimidated by the physical nature of the process. When you’re dealing with molten glass at 2,000 degrees, it takes tremendous force to maneuver the 30-pound ladle filled with up to 40 pounds of liquefied glass. Even doing something on a blowpipe requires constantly lifting, warming up and lifting 20, 30 and 40 pound weights.

It’s also very dangerous work that requires many hands in a carefully choreographed dance with someone opening the oven door; someone pouring the glass; someone cutting excess glass from the ladle; someone handling a torch; and someone closing the oven door. The slightest mistake – that a bead of sweat or a shirt sleeve comes into contact with molten material when poured into a mold – can shatter glass in what is a very expensive process.

Finding a studio where you can hone your skills is also a challenge. Looking back, I can understand why the men I approached looking for studio time had reservations. I was in my early twenties, didn’t look very strong, and they didn’t know if I could be trusted with their gear. Truth be told, I had only taken a few glass classes in college and didn’t have much experience, so their suspicions were justified.

Q: People’s reactions to your glass sculptures tend to be instinctive and visceral. How do you react when you see a finished piece for the first time?

A: It’s been a week or two from the time I put a piece in the cooling oven until it’s stabilized and ready to go out, so there’s a lot of emotion to see the sculpture finished for the first time.

I don’t know how to explain the level of excitement, elation and happiness that comes over me when a track comes out well, but the rush is unmistakable. Invariably, the pieces that take my breath away are the ones that sell first, no matter the gallery, exhibition or art fair.

Q: Is it hard for you to let go of the pieces that take your breath away?

A: When the stakes were higher, studio time was limited and I couldn’t afford to be prolific, it felt like a real loss because I was so connected to them. Part of my heart would go with the special pieces.

Over time, I’ve found that work connects with a certain type of person. They are soulful, highly aware, light-hearted, attuned to the things that really matter, and drawn to uplifting images. They want something in their home that makes them feel good or happy to be in the space instead of making a statement that’s hard to process.

Now, when I part with my sculptures, I feel like I’m going full circle to give a gift to someone who really appreciates them, which makes letting go a lot easier.

Q: What have your collectors told you about yourself, your purpose, your voice as an artist?

A: Every time a door was closed, or a gallery said ‘no’, or I had no sales, there were collectors just around the corner who said ‘ yes” or a museum that was delighted to exhibit my work. Every “yes” encouraged me to keep going, reminded me not to get discouraged, and reinforced my passion. When I receive letters from collectors telling me how happy they feel seeing my pieces in their personal spaces, I know there is no better purpose in life.

Q: Glass doesn’t usually inspire the desire to touch, but your work is so tactile it practically begs viewers to reach out. What is your policy?

A: We’ve been so programmed not to touch the artwork. I used to say to people at shows, “You can touch these coins if you want.” It’s really interesting to see the reaction of people when they are asked to ignore their training.

Children are a little more out of control with their bodies and I never want to contradict a parent’s instructions, but I usually bring a piece to a child or baby. They are so happy to touch because the surface is so textured and different.

Q: Why is light such an important part of your work?

A: The light adds a dimension to the glass sculpture which changes with time of day, cloud cover, bright sun, indirect sun, making it a dynamic and constantly evolving work of art. evolution. It’s the perfect material not only for the way it plays with light, but for the way it remembers the mold it was poured into, has the texture of the sand mold on the front, and looks like a piece. of antiquity that has been unearthed.

Q: What is your advice to emerging talent when it comes to being an artist?

A: I didn’t study business at university, but I followed my instinct to work in a gallery and to understand what gallery owners wanted from their artists.

There was no path for me to follow. . . I learned by trial and error. But I encourage all emerging artists to think of themselves as artists, entrepreneurs, and business owners if they want to thrive.


Marlene Rose: “The Alliance of Light”

Until November 13. 288 Buckhead Ave., Atlanta. 404-883-3670,


ArtsATL (, is a non-profit organization that plays a vital role in educating and informing the public about the arts and culture of the metro Atlanta area. Founded in 2009, ArtsATL’s goal is to help build a sustainable arts community contributing to the economic and cultural health of the city.

If you have any questions about this or other partnerships, please contact Senior Director of Partnerships Nicole Williams at [email protected].

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