Glass artist Elizabeth Devereaux traveled across the globe looking for an international education in art and architecture, from San Rafael to Vienna, then Munich, and finally California, where she settled down and founded her studio in 1969. More than thirty years later, Devereaux is an accomplished architectural glass artist with works installed all over the country. She spoke recently about her cultural influences and her love of “painting with light.”
Where did you go to school and what was your best educational takeaway?
I studied painting and drawing at Dominican University in San Rafael, and spent two years studying in Vienna and Munich, then studied industrial design at California State University in Long Beach. All of it added to a good start in architectural glass art, but my best educational takeaway was probably studying in Vienna. I was totally immersed in a very rich culture, and was a sponge in every way. It changed my life, and continually contributes to my work.
What advice would you give other artists about working on a commission project?
In an architectural setting, I always like to work in a site-specific way, noting the place and region itself, as well as the architectural style the artwork is in, the light, the interior and exterior environment. I work collaboratively, which then requires me to listen to the client/committee’s story, to define their identity and understand what has meaning for them, and then to synthesize all of the information within my own style and artistic vision.
What do you love best about the medium you work in?
I always loved transparency—working with watercolor, silkscreen, overlaying color. When I discovered glass, I realized the incredible aspects of “painting with light.” Mouth-blown textures and color can be designed to meet direct sunlight and be projected in mysterious ways across the interior space. Or if the window is facing an unwanted view, it is possible to use translucent glass, allowing light in, but not the view or the glare. I also love the use of reflective materials, polished metals, in conjunction with glass, but sometimes mirror, and 24 karat gold, silver, and platinum lusters sprayed and fired onto glass. This allows the window to have a nightlife, different from the day. I also love pattern, making a “logo,” or distillation of the meaning of the commission, then repeating it into a “fabric,” woven into the artwork.