Inspired by the storytelling tradition of woven tapestry and basketry, Demetra Theofanous weaves with glass to connect the viewer with the story of the natural world. Through delicate nests, flowers, branches, and leaves, she depicts the cycle of life: growth, discovery, change, and renewal. Vetri checked in with Demetra to see how she’s adapting her creative-process without access to her Bay-area studio. Here’s what she had to say:
During the downtime, my husband and collaborator Dean and I have been applying for grants and designing work for our upcoming shows. We want to keep evolving our work and are going on walks looking for new types of leaves to cast, and thinking of new types of installations. This means developing new ways to display the work as well, which takes a lot of time and research. We are glad everything is growing so well, so we will have plenty of leaves on the trees to start casting again soon. We have a commission we are working on for a private residence in Napa, and have been waiting for the grape leaves to start growing again! Most of all I see the downtime as a way to reset and refocus on things that normally are battling for our attention. It has allowed us a chance to research new techniques, and think of ways we can continue to create and communicate our narrative and ideas.
I do really enjoy being able to switch back and forth between the flameworking and pate de verre work. The processes are very different and feed my creativity in different ways. Both processes are painstaking in the detail, but allow me the ability to express myself, my connection to the natural world, and the connection to the human spirit, in different ways. I love combining different techniques which allow me a bigger vocabulary to communicate and connect with the viewer in different ways.
Aside from glass, we also started growing an avocado tree which is now a whopping 5mm tall! Dean is the baker, and I am the quality control so he is doing everything from homemade bagels to onion rings, and I am pushing for some baklava as well.
Demetra Theofanous entered the medium of glass through the art of lampworking, creating glass beads as a hobby. She quickly realized her ideas needed to be translated on a larger scale and transitioned from making beads to creating glass sculptures on the torch and through pate de verre. Theofanous is internationally recognized for her woven glass nest and flora sculptures and is included in numerous private collections, as well as in the permanent collection of the Racine Art Museum. She is also an educator, teaching extensively at top educational institutions such as Pratt Fine Arts Center, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and Bay Area Glass Institute.