Artists ~ Jennifer Black ~ Jamestown

Artist’s name: Jennifer Black
Shop name: Islandesign Stained Glass

1. Tell us about your work
From my own designs, I produce works of stained glass that vary from the small of a suncatcher, to the medium glass panel, and to the large of a custom installation. Working from my home studio, I am solely involved in the entire process from the illustration to the assembly. With classical and modern influences, I tend to choose subjects that are drawn from region and often combine the various forms of glass we encounter. For instance, I produce a series of glass bottles framed by surrounding stained glass that I consider to be re-purposed works as the bottles retain their uses for either holding a flower with water or scented oil. Also, I integrate often various styles of seaglass that I collected off Jamestown with my works in order to retain the environmental feel. While I tend to produce original designs, I do upon commission create custom works and have produced large scale versions of smaller designed pieces for home installations; one I am most proud of was a multi-panel swimming mermaid design that once completed was installed into a home in Jamestown.

2. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I originally was trained to be a painter and illustrator, attending programs at RISD, Roger Williams, and other area educational centers. While still in college I began to transition my knowledge of color and texture to the medium of stained glass and this became primary artistic outlet.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Growing up in Jamestown, much of the inspiration for Islandesign comes from this place. The beaches, farms, and physical structures such as our two bridges and lighthouses do all feed into my work. The same might be said too for being a Rhode Islander, every day I am inspired by the places, people and things I encounter.

4. What’s your favorite item to create?
I have a lot really, but my recent favorite items lately have been the series of farm-inspired works I produced for the owners of Simmons Farm in Middletown. These works included hanging glass display panels for "Dairy" and "Chevre" and smaller items such as cows, pigs, and goats that are sold in the farm stand. Having grown up around and worked with animals for many years, I have an affection toward the cows, goats, other animals at the farm. Fortunately for me, I get to visit the farm often thanks as an part-time employee.

5. What’s your best seller?
My most recent best seller has been a stained glass panel of Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport, RI. Starting in January, I am decided to produce a limited series of works that feature lighthouses in New England beginning of course with Rhode Island. Each will be numbered and only 20 will be produced to be sold through the website. For February, I will be returning with a new landscape version of Beavertail Lighthouse.

6. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
I moved with my family to Jamestown, Rhode Island in 1985, after growing up in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Currently, I live with husband Jason and children Hayden and Seamus in that same home we moved to now 30 years ago.

7. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
What I {heart} about Rhode Island most is the environment; We are so fortunate to have access to the bay through our beaches or to natural reserves and parks on both sides of the bridges, all while living and producing in a state welcoming to artists and farmers alike.

8. Please include anything else you’d like to add:
I'd add that it is perhaps more important than ever that people support both the arts and small businesses in their own communities. There are so many organically developing organizations, guilds, and centers promoting and supporting area artists of all types that it is a great time to be try to become active in these spaces. From the Portsmouth Arts Guild and the shops of Wickford to spaces like the Hope Artiste Village, be present and make time to be part of these communities and even better join with them in making Rhode Island a positive home for creativity and entrepreneurship.


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