Artist Liz Renee presents her portfolio of sculptural works and talks about running a studio business.
ABI: How did your background prepare you for the work you do today?
LR: The breadth of my interests and diversity of life experiences has helped to prepare me for success in a multidimensional art profession. Growing up in New York and studying art in New York City was a great introduction into the world of art as both career and business.
My experience as an artist, art educator, the coordinator of art education at University of Central Florida and the Gallery Director at VCC, expanded my organizational skills, all essential to operating a business. With my communication skills and teaching performance, I am comfortable teaching all levels of skills and age groups. And… I have learned so much from play! Travel and living abroad has widened my perspective with regard to approaches and goals. And a large influence on my artwork is the result of sailing and diving, where I derive much of my inspiration.
ABI: Your business has many facets to it. What does your studio offer?
LR: Our studio, Nartique Glass has many facets, in addition to my career as a fine artist which has been a lifelong commitment. Together, with my husband John Witanowski, we began our journey as an art business in the year 2000 with the intention of creating nautical and tropical art in a variety of media. However, as our interest in glass grew, our artwork began to focus almost entirely on kiln-cast glass and fused glass. Having been artists all our lives, we still continue to work in other media. However, GLASS has become our “obsession”… and the name of our sailboat, as well!
In developing our business, we began to feature art glass books. As a result, we discovered that we loved meeting and helping other glass artists. And so… our studio has blossomed in a variety of directions. We create fine art pieces for collectors, practical and architectural pieces for everyday use, and we enjoy the challenge of custom designs and installations.
Our work includes sculpture and relief work, jewelry, custom tiles and panels, dinnerware, lighting, sinks, and more! We not only make and sell art glass, we teach workshops and classes in a variety of glass techniques and processes, and we also offer a constantly expanding inventory of glass books, supplies and equipment!
ABI: What is your process? How has that helped you create exciting work?
LR: Developing my work involves an intuitive process of “living with” specific found objects, photos, or even just pieces of glass. Having those items in my studio, in the background, eventually generates ideas to explore… sometimes as a series, and other times as an individual artwork. Concept and content are critical to my work. My most recent art focuses on the use of glass with mixed media. These narrative assemblages form a series of works that I call “Remnants, Fragments & Phantoms”.
In this series, I combine cast glass elements with found objects, as well as personal and family mementos. While focusing on a clear narrative, I utilize strong compositional techniques to speak to the viewer on many levels, emphasizing contrasting textures and colors to create mood and tone. Although my work has personal and anecdotal significance, it speaks directly to our shared human condition through common life experiences. I have found this to be the most exciting part of my work, and the most powerful!