Lisa Gillen "The Roots of our Love"

Throughout June, Brush Strokes gallery will feature an array of fused-glass creations by Lisa Gillen. Titled "The Roots of our Love," the exhibit will include decorative plates, panels and pendants with motifs of flowers, plants, animals, and organic elements. "Everyone has some connection with nature and it is unique for each person, just as their experience of a work of art is," said Gillen.

In fact, the title of Lisa's show may have an unintended double meaning, connoting the "roots of her love" of this form of artistry. Not once, but twice the universe seemed to speak to her, guiding her to further explore her creative expression through glass, when, at two different times, she became the recipient of a full studio of equipment from another artist.

The first of these gifts occurred twenty years ago when she worked at a bed and breakfast and the mother of the owners had a studio for stained glass. Lisa recalls, the artist asked, "Would you like to do stained glass? I can't do this anymore, and if you'd like to do it, I will pass it on to you." Gillen had already experimented with stained glass and gratefully embraced the gift. "I was fascinated by the glass and the process. I always liked puzzles and for me, stained glass was like a puzzle. You have to cut all the pieces and they all have to fit together."

Throughout the years, Lisa continued to explore glass artistry and was introduced to her second "love" -- fused glass. Though the process involves firing each piece for three times for 24-hour cycles and closely guiding the firing schedule and temperatures, Gillen said this new form brought a sense of freedom and an element of surprise. "Fusing is much less restrictive than stained glass, where there is a clear set of rules that you must follow. It allows exploration and sometimes un anticipated discovery. Glass may look one way in its powder form and then change color in the kiln or when powders with different bases interact. Sometimes the outcome is different from what you anticipated!"

Lisa added a small kiln to her studio and was creating jewelry and small plates when fellow Brush Strokes glass artist Ben Childers told her that was moving on to new medium of painting and offered to pass on to her the equipment in his studio. " He had a larger kiln and I had room for everything so I leaped at the opportunity," she said. Ben's kiln opened the threshold for Lisa to express her creativity larger works, such as the panels and plates that will be part of her June exhibit, which will truly be a manifestation of "The Roots of our (and her) Love."

Lisa Gillen's "The Roots of our Love” exhibit will be displayed from June 3 through June 30, and visitors will have an opportunity to meet and chat with Lisa and other gallery artists at the exhibit’s opening reception on “First Friday,” June 7, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.