Our April Artist of the Month, Adam Kenney, seamlessly blends color and textures to create glass vessels that possess a harmonious balance of organic qualities and modern, clean lines. In addition to being our Artist of the Month, Adam is also this quarter’s featured artist for the Janet Krieger Artist Spotlight. Read on to learn more about Adam and his creative practice.
Effective artists give society what it needs but may not know to ask for.
What is your artistic background?
I started glassblowing at Centre College under Stephen Powell. Afterwards, I worked in production studios for several years to sharpen my technical skills. To expand my design and artistic capabilities, I then studied at the Appalachian Center for Craft under Curtiss Brock. He was a skilled glassblower but also a sensitive and successful mixed media sculptor, so my craft and art improved.
What are your favorite materials to work with/types of items to make?
I enjoy the choreography of the hot shop which combines athletic movement and object making. For the objects I make, I highlight the more understated properties of glass, like translucency over shine. I make mixed media sculpture for specific opportunities but am mostly drawn to vessel making to plug into and contribute to a historical continuum.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I am inspired by natural forms and the processes of other creatives. So much has already been accomplished in glassblowing, so it’s difficult to find space for innovation. I try and discover uniqueness of expression in that little intersection between organic structures, precedent in craft, and my own explorations of process and material.
How would you describe your work?
Hopefully, minimal without being boring. Understated while being remarkable.
What is your creative process like?
Pretty standard design process – ideate, prototype, iterate, and finalize. With my studio work, I am trying to close the gap between objects in my imagination and the capabilities of my craft.
What is the most rewarding thing about your practice?
Dancers and athletes often speak of “The Zone” mindset achieved during performance. A state of mental transcendence that comes from physical exertion and mastery of movement. I find achieving that mindset in the studio is the most rewarding. It’s prized yet ephemeral. I appreciate the final objects I make but they are fixed and often start to unmeet expectations as I find ways that they could have been better.
And what challenges do you face as an artist?
With family and career obligations, my biggest challenge is simply making time to make. Life pulls me in different directions and does not ask for my creative output. This year, I am trying to carve out bandwidth to keep making as a meaningful part of my identity. Fortunately, as my children get older, they are expressing an interest in learning glassmaking and other craft practices. This effectively combines two essential parts of my life in interesting ways.
Outside of your practice, do you do any other creative activities/what are your interests?
I have a leadership role for a nonprofit social impact investor, Bridgeway Capital. I have enjoyed designing and sustaining programs and platforms that integrate the regional creative ecosystem with equitable economic development. I have a wonderful wife and two dynamic kids that I do my best to keep up with.
What role does the artist have in society?
Artists bring value to society by following their internal impulse to communicate ideas and emotions through media and objects. Effective artists give society what it needs but may not know to ask for.
What is art/craft to you?
Art is about personal expression, where communication takes primacy over the materials used and processes employed. Craft is a focus on materials and processes, and the resulting objects may have little or no subtext to share. I always enjoy looking at objects from creatives and considering the balance (or imbalance) of these elements.
Tell us about your favorite artist or artists that inspires you.
For my glassware I am inspired by the playful forms and rich optics of Kosta Boda, but also like the technical challenges of modern Venetian glass blowing like Lino Tagliapietra. When it comes to making sculptural objects, I am inspired by post-minimalists and/or land artists like Richard Deacon, Cornelia Parker, James Turrell, Martin Puryear, Maya Lin, Andy Goldsworthy, and Eve Hesse.
Anything else you would like to add?
My main career since 2008 is nonprofit leadership in the economic development and arts and cultural sectors, but I have been trying to restart my glassmaking in 2023. This creative opportunity was unexpected, and I am grateful to Contemporary Craft for it.
You can shop a selection of Adam’s work in our Store at 5645 Butler Street, Pittsburgh and online.
Janet Krieger was a painter, printmaker, ceramicist, and long-time supporter of CC. The spotlight is a gift by Karen Krieger and Karl Krieger, in tribute to Janet’s artistic career and desire to support working artists.