Jalen, Featured Artist
Because of glass art and Ignition Community Glass (ICG), I’ve learned what it really means to become a leader and an artist and how to create my own path. When I decided to explore this medium, my whole life changed.
Five years ago, I was introduced to glass art. The process of making glass drew me in because it was outside the culture and challenging environment I grew up in. It opened a world I didn’t know was possible in my life. In high school, I thought the only option to break out of the cycle of violence and poverty was sports. It has become crucial for me to show that being an athlete is not the only ticket out. Until I can create the same opportunity for other youth, my story will feel incomplete.
Since graduating in June 2018 from Wendell Phillips Academy, I received a scholarship to pursue a B.F.A. at Kent State University with a concentration in glass art. Working and creating glass is a therapeutic escape for me. It’s the place I find peace and healing.
Learning about the early periods of art that produced cave paintings, such as in images in the Altamira Cave and the sunken reliefs of Gods and Goddesses in Egyptian sculptures, sparked my imagination. My art history classes at Kent inspire how I approach my work and remind me of the power exceptional art has in eliciting emotions in the viewer.
My style is very open and organic. One of my goals is to transfer positive emotions through my work. My glass art teacher and mentor, Ben Tullman’s work has inspired me to go down this path. He focuses on colors and patterns in glass that are bright and striking and draw you in.
My focus now is on self-empowerment, being a role model and teaching glass art. My dream is to one day start my own non-profit art program to leverage glass making to transform the lives of the youth struggling as I did in the neighborhood where I grew up.
I am honored to have the opportunity to showcase a selection of my personal glass art in ICG’s Inaugural Online Store and to be part of the production team creating products for the virtual store. Proceeds of all our sales go directly to supporting future programming and open doors of opportunity for youth from Chicago’s disenfranchised communities.
I owe a special thanks to ICG for continually supporting me, believing in me and introducing me to the power of glass art, and introducing me to my dream job.