Media: Glass, Sculpture, Metal
B.A., Studio Art, cum laude, Rhodes College, Memphis, TN
Brian Russell received his B.A. in Studio Art from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. His artistic history covers several media. He began with black and white photography and after school moved into furniture making, crafting structures of wood and steel. He decided to incorporate glass into his work, and his visual quest ended when he discovered the art of lost wax glass casting. His metal and glass sculptures are an impressive tribute to an open-minded learning curve in the world of art.
Brian Russell began his artistic endeavors in black and white photography with a concentration on the human form. This was his primary medium until his introduction to sculpture in 1981. Beginning in wood and stone carving, Brian progressed to fabricating large freestanding sculptures from scrap steel and industrial debris.
Upon graduation from Rhodes, Brian began to weld sculptures and build furniture of both wood and steel. Making furniture and functional items provided capital for the establishment of his first studio. Using the tools and techniques of traditional blacksmiths Brian was able to weld his creative visions. By mastering new techniques and materials a synthesis of ideas developed. Driven to incorporate color into his work, Russell began experimenting with fused glass and pate-de-verre. His visual vocabulary was derived from his travels, nature and the human form.
After mastering the forging technique, Russell began to leave the more linear forms driven by blacksmithing and to expand his vocabulary to include more color and volumetric shapes. Russell decided to reintroduce glass into his work in a more sculptural way. Through much experimentation and patience Russell achieved his vision of combining glass and metals to create new expressions in his work. Still, the techniques of fusing lacked the crisp sculptural qualities he desired.
On a visit to New Zealand in 1999 Russell was exposed to a lost wax glass casting technique that produced exciting results and helped him to arrive at his current location: a fusion of forged metals and cast glass unique to his sculpture. The transparency and optical nature of the colored cast glass have an inherent emotional effect that enable the artist to speak quietly, yet powerfully about his ideas on the nature of reality and purity of form. The effect of the metal forgings, synergized with the images presented by the vivid glass castings give life to his sculptures.