Glass artist Lauren Puckett is a current artist-in-residence at McColl Center. Her four-month residency is sponsored by Charlotte Is Creative. Creative space is at a premium in the Queen City right now. For example, space in the VAPA Center – just across Tryon Street from McColl – was completely leased in less than a week when released earlier this year (with a wait list that was capped at 200).
This granted space at McColl is allowing Puckett to move into larger works than she’s able to create at home. Part of her work is inventing a more environmentally sustainable stained glass process.
She began her four-month residency at the McColl Center in February. Since then, she’s been making, studying and getting to know her fellow creatives who are all there to focus, distraction-free, on their artwork. Puckett took time out from her artmaking to talk to us about what she’s doing and how she got started.
What’s one of your earliest memories of a desire to create? When did you start studying glass?
I don’t have a specific moment. I remember always creating – doodling on any piece of paper I could find, winning awards in elementary school art competitions. It wasn’t until I went to college (the first time) that I stopped making and studied business because it was presented as a more practical career field.
I became an advertising executive and moved to California after college for what I thought was my dream job. Immediately felt that it didn’t quite fit and longed to return to being a creator/maker.
There’s a lot in between that point and where I am now. But I find my mind and body are most fulfilled when creating and making. I enjoy researching and creating the work in my mind, then being able to physically create the design with my hands.
You went to Edinburgh to study. What took you there?
The University of Edinburgh took my family and me to Scotland for 5 years. I earned my MFA from one of the oldest glass programs in the world. I am now working on my Ph.D.
It was an amazing experience to live in a medieval city for almost six years. My children were able to visit three continents and 10 different countries. We were immersed in British culture.
Has the community here changed while you were away?
I see a lot of growth and support for the artistic community in Charlotte now and a lot more support for artists from the city as a whole.
What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the time at McColl Center?
I am working to develop a new process in stained glass that reduces and/or eliminates the need for lead. It aligns with the EU’s [European Union] most recent restrictions and bans on lead usage and creates a new structural support system that removes the horizontal and vertical visual disruptions created by the traditional armatures.
Why was getting the space at McColl important?
I have access to kilns, welding, woodwork, tools and most importantly (for me) space! Space to create large-scale work without having kids and animals – free from distraction – surrounded only by other creatives.
Besides glass, what other creative media do you engage in?
I work in graphic design to create a lot of my imagery. I paint and have translated that into my new work using glass enamel.
I love the process of metal work to create the structures for my newest work and am about to venture into some new woodworking techniques I have been studying. I also work with fiber and ceramics to create texture and also for little side projects.
Wow! Your work is so much broader than just glass. What advice would you have to emerging creatives in Charlotte?
Keep making, keep applying, trust your instincts. Expect frustration, rejection and failure but don’t let it stop you. Also, engage with your community of fellow artists. This is especially difficult for me because I become completely immersed in my work …
Who are three creatives in Charlotte more people should follow?
I loved what @owl.clt did in 2019-20 with the Mint Museum’s Classic Black ehibit in 2020. You can see that work here. (Classic Black The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries featured more than 100 ceramic objects and was the first exhibition to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England.)
And there’s an Asheville potter who I just bought work from: @michaelgatespottery.
Follow Lauren and her adventures in glass …
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