MADISON — The early 1970s was a time of upheaval, and like many young women of that era, Branford glass artist Jayne Crowley found herself at a professional crossroads.
While she had studied chemistry in college, her true passion was in the arts, and it was glass that quickened her heart.
Fast-forward 45 years working in glass, Crowley stood in awe at The Mary C. Daly RSM Art Gallery at Mercy By the Sea in Madison viewing her body of work.
“The exhibit is a progression of a lifetime of work going back to the early 70s. It’s totally amazing to stand in the center of my work at The Mercy Center,” shared Crowley by phone.
While Crowley combines other mediums such as photography within her work, she primarily creates her unique pieces in glass.
She described her preference for the medium and her chemistry background was evident.
“It’s fascinating to work with because the chemical makeup of glass is a super-cooled liquid therefore it’s a manipulative material.”
In Crowley’s 45-year career, she has occupied many different spaces.
Crowley’s first studio wasin an industrial space housed in the former Malleable Iron Fittings Company building in Branford.
Crowley later opened JC Glassworks downtown Branford and shared the gallery with other artists selling American crafts. Now, Crowley works from her own gallery space, JC ArtGlass Designs LLC at 698 Main St. in Branford.
Crowley’s new exhibit not only embodies the length of her career, but the way in which her artistry has grown and changed throughout her creative life and how she uses glass.
“I’ve worked with flat sheets of colored glass where you are totally dependent upon your light source and how the colors interact with that light,” she said. “A lot of my new pieces are kiln-work by fusing glass. The glass always interacts differently with the heat. It’s a lot less predictable than working with flat sheets of colored glass.”
Crowley titled the exhibit, “Glass ... Then and Now,” which spans the entire gallery space divided into earlier works of leaded glass and newer pieces both leaded and fired. Crowley detailed one piece called, “The Four Seasons.”
“I started with flat glass. I basically made the glass. In the four corners fired into the glass are pictures of a tree, which become a permanent part of the glass.”
She described another work, “Painted Birch Trees.”
“This is a newer piece about the four seasons again. The seasons are very representational of the lifecycle, and the show is very much about my lifecycle of work.”
In addition to her own glass pieces, Crowley is working on the Stony Creek Congregational Church restoration, and recently completed a glass window for the New Haven Free Public Library.
“I worked on the window with local artist Robert Mele who did much of the designing, and I executed his concepts with the glass,” she said of the work at the library. The colorful images created on the glass mural reflect the nine squares of New Haven as well as various highlights of the city.
Crowley said she feels very grateful to share her work with the public and truly considers her work as a glass artist a journey.
“To see the work as a grouping for the first time in such a peaceful place as the Mercy Center ... it is awe-inspiring.”
“Glass ... Then and Now” runs through Dec. 18 at Mercy By the Sea, 167 Neck Road Madison, 203-245-0401; website: www.mercybythesea.org.