Meet A Maker: Elizabeth Fortunato

Elizabeth Fortunato earrings

Meet Elizabeth Fortunato – a mixed media artist, who will be teaching mold making, casting, and glass fusion in The Studio on Saturday and Sunday, August 27 – 28, 2016. Get to know the instructor a little better in this brief artist interview!

pink glass vessel

CC: Tell us about your background. How did you get into your craft? Who are mentors or artists that you admire or have influenced your artistic development?

Elizabeth Fortunato (EF): I grew up here in the south hills of Pittsburgh. I was generally interested in art but got into glass at Pittsburgh Glass Center in a high school class. I graduated from Kent State University studying with Sean Mercer in 2010 and  found glass to be alluring and challenging in a way that I had never seen before.

I am now going into my final year of grad school at University of Washington in Seattle and am studying with Mark Zirpel and Amie Mcneel as well as others. I admire countless artists, especially those I’ve gotten to study with, highlights being Glass artists Silvia Levenson and Mel George. This summer, I have classes with Marc Petrovic and Elizabeth Alexader who have been a huge support and inspiration.

CC: Tell us? bout what the material means to you and why you are attracted to it. Why it is important within your work?

EF: Materially, I have identified as a glass caster, but more recently as a sculptor. I enjoy casting, recreating objects and translating meaning through material. I recently have been exploring the possibility of paper, fiber, metals, food and technology in my work. I love learning new processes and expanding my material language.

CC: Describe your process. What do you think about while you work?

glass thread spools in a wooden boxEF: I appreciate casting as a process. Multi step and material translation processes allow me time with the objects. I like to become familiar with the form, surface, tradition and personal significance of found objects as I spend hours with them making molds and revealing a new material. I love to shop at flea markets, estate sales and local Eco non profits for materials, but I especially enjoy using familial objects and influences. At times I translate the wear and use of a household or personal item. I try to enhance and preserve the essence and identity of the object owner. More recently, I have been interested in expanding my object into an installation or vignette. I use personal or appropriated memories to create my feeling of person, place or time. I enjoy recreating or exploring times, photographs or snap shots that I had no significant role in, but feel connected to. It’s like remembering a home movie. Times you were too young to actually recall, but you have seen the image and know it to be true. I am interested in the intersection between familial tradition, truth and appropriation.

CC: Tell us about your current body of work. What are you excited about?

EF: As I move forward, I am looking forward to working with 2D and 3D methods. I have recent become more interested in color, pattern and printmaking. I am also excited to work with more diverse sculpture materials both high and low tech as I explore memory.

CC: Any advice for future artists?

EF: Advice… Nothing is impossible. Just be earnest and eager to learn. If it’s easy, it’s probably not fun, at least not in the long run. It’s the challenges and discovery that make things interesting.