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Art & Life with Jennifer Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Smith.

Jennifer, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I grew up in Queens NYC and went to the HS of Art and Design. I had to pick a major for my junior year, and I thought I was going to be a jewelry designer; however, the school did not offer that option, so I picked Theatre.

During the spring semester of my junior year, I was put on an internship at Playwrights Horizons on 42nd street, and I was hooked. I moved to Chicago to attend The Theater School at DePaul University where I studied Stage Management which then led me to Production Management. After graduation, I did both stage managing and production managing for a while until I had to make a decision between the two and so I decided to focus solely on Production Management in 1998.

As a production manager, you oversee all aspects of the physical production including scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, props and stage management. You stay connected to the artistic process making sure all deadlines are met, and everything stays within budget. You balance the day to day along with resources so that the artistic vision can be implemented within the means of the company.

I have worked for companies such as Lookingglass Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Northwestern University’s Theatre, and Interpretation Center and The Theater School, all in Chicago. I moved to Tucson in the summer of 2014 to warm up and to work for Arizona Theatre Company as Production Manager. Throughout all this time, I have continued to work on jewelry as my creative outlet, particularly glass jewelry which then led to glass fusing. After my first glass fusing class, I was hooked. I use it for my jewelry work and also make glass dishes and bowls.

This past year I left Arizona Theater Company and have taken time to travel and continue my glass and jewelry work while figuring out my next move. The next move may include theater again, we will see.

For now, I am creating glass at the Tucson Park District, and I am also making beads for a wonderful organization, Beads of Courage.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
While in theatre I was not hands on, but one of my biggest responsibilities as a manager was to support the work of those that did create the art. It was important for me to know what it took to actually make the show happen so that I could make decisions and support the work in a realistic way. I couldn’t expect a wig to be hand built in one day, or a larger set to be built and painted with only four people in a shop working 40 hours a week.

With my glass and jewelry, I am indeed hands on and consider it my artistic outlet. I like beautiful and fun items. My tag line is Accessories for You and Your Home. In addition to pendants and earrings, I make small bowls, dishes and am just starting to make larger pieces as well.

I don’t have a particular style. There are so many possibilities with glass, and I keep learning new techniques that my “look” varies. I love collage and will bring that into my work. I do work with stencils and use them to create images in/on glass – now that I think of it, I have been called the Stencil Queen.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
In all of my work, I have always mentioned network, network, network. It can be difficult, but that is how you meet people, collaborate and learn. You never know where these connections can come up again in your life.

I went to volunteer at an organization called Beads of Courage, and I ended up in their polymer clay bead class. The instructor ended up being an artist I met at a show four years ago when I first moved to Tucson. I am now assisting her with the bead class!

I could easily work on my glass alone in my garage, and I often love my garage space for that reason, but I continue to take classes and move my work back and forth just so I can be around other artists and see what they’re up to and to connect.

Advice: network, network, network.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I post a lot of what comes right out of the kiln on my Facebook page (I should make a glass page for myself) and on my Instagram JenSmithGlass. I have a website that is linked to my Etsy account as well, all under JenSmithGlass.

You can support my work and all artists by buying their work and recommending their work to your friends.

You can understand the difference between something hand made and mass produced and know the importance and specialty of something hand made.

You can support theatre by buying a ticket to a show; bring a friend or a younger person and introduce the next generation to live performances.

Contact Info:

Arizona Theatre Company production of Fences.
Arizona Theatre Company production of Five Presidents. Jensmithglass pendants and earrings  Jensmithglass Elephant Dishes 5″x5″ square glass  Jensmithglass A glass interpretation of the Singing Butler 9″x12″ glass  Jensmithglass Collage Glass on its way to becoming a plate 8″x11″ glass
Jensmithglass Puppy Dish 5″x5″ square glass

Production Image Credit:
Brigitte Bechtel

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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