Violette’s mixed-media sculptures, like this “Five Green Pears (Still Life),” are often inspired by her environment.
One glance at Jen Violette’s mixed-media wall sculptures reveals her constant sources of inspiration—the rural Vermont countryside and the fruits of her garden.
Violette cultivates vegetables, berries, shrubs and small trees as long as the region’s short growing season permits. “I love to see the constant, daily changes through the seasons,” she explains. “My garden-inspired pieces allow me to ‘garden’ year round.”
Violette always keeps a sketchbook by her side. Once she chooses a design, she “sketches” with molten glass to perfect the forms. To enhance the glass, she adds a stainless steel “canvas,” complementing the final forms with wood, mostly mahogany and maple, to “give the piece some warmth.” She finds mixing materials liberating. “I love not being limited,” she says.
Dabbling in many mediums is nothing new for Violette. She started to draw as soon as she “could hold a crayon,” and learned basic woodworking techniques from her father and sewing skills from her mother. Her paternal grandparents also inspired her to follow her talents—they worked as studio artists to provide for their growing family.
Violette attended Alfred University in New York, where she soon delved into mediums beyond her first passions—painting and printmaking. She improved her skills in wood and metal and was turned on to glass by a friend. “Molten glass was something new and intriguing,” she says. “I enjoyed the challenge.” The hardest part, she admits, was learning how to use tools in place of her hands.
During and after college, Violette studied with Dante Marioni, Lino Tagliapietra and William Morris, learning how to sculpt, evoke detail and master powdered glass color application.
Although Violette officially launched her career in 1999 with primarily functional pieces, she’s focused on her “three-dimensional paintings” since 2006. How will her style transform next? “I’m always striving to introduce new forms and themes,” she explains, but “they just kind of evolve on their own.”
This article was first published in the Summer 2008 edition of NICHE magazine. To see what Violette is doing now, go to www.jenviolette.com