Getting to know Donna Rice

November 29th, 2017


Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
Three people share the role of biggest influence on my art. For so many reasons, I have always idolized Georgia O’Keefe. Japanese glass artist Kimiake Higuchi changed the course of my career in 1990 when I saw one of her cast female torsos at a gallery in NYC. And glass foundry artist Hugh McKay has been a mentor to me since I started casting glass in 1996.

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?
My favorite sculpture is always my latest because I challenge myself with every new piece. “On a Wing and a Prayer”, “Hibiscus and Palm” and “Faded Beauty” are the largest and thinnest sculptures I’ve completed to date, so I’m especially proud of those three. “Lagoon” is pretty special, too, because she took three tries to cast perfectly!

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
I am most inspired by any place with a magnificent view and timeless spaces that give me perspective. Once upon a time we lived in Virginia among the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains. The view from our back porch was breathtaking and that memory lives on in my heart forever.

What inspired you to study to become a glass sculptor?
Somehow I knew I wanted to blow glass from the time I was ten years old, though I have no idea how I was exposed to the craft. I majored in Glass at Carnegie Mellon University, where I fell in love with every aspect of the material. I’ve also had many wonderful mentors who lead the way.

How long have you been working with glass?
I started blowing glass as a sophomore at CMU in 1978. I’ve been a professional glass artist for more than 35 years. I established my own studio in 1989 after working for various prominent glass artists around the country.

Where do you get your inspirations for your work?
Nature has been my source of inspiration since I was a little girl. I learned early that I didn’t have to look far to find it. Every place I’ve ever lived or visited has left an impression on me and it’s only a matter of time until the most important memories make their way into my work.

What is your creative process like?
My creative process usually begins with a natural found object from a walk or special outing. Many ideas simmer in my head at once, but the best ones eventually bubble to the surface. Sometimes I’ll draw an idea, but most often, I jump right into building the model in wax.

What are the most important factors you consider when you create your work?
Good design is the most important factor in my work. I often spend months creating a sculpture, and materials are costly, so I have to carefully consider the aesthetic value of every piece as it progresses. To achieve a beautiful and cohesive sculpture, I imagine my models as translucent glass throughout the entire process.

How has your practice changed over time?
I began my practice by casting small botanical reliefs of flowers and plants embedded in wax. Within a few years I was casting larger, three-dimensional models in closed plaster molds that grew more complex over time. As my casting knowledge grew, so did the size of my models, molds and studio!

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of making work? Why?
The most difficult aspect of making my work is the sheer amount of time each piece takes from start to finish. I spend a minimum of three months on every large sculpture I cast. It takes at least a month to model the wax form, 2-3 weeks of mold preparation, a week or more in the kiln and another month or so to finish the surface.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don't know?
I am a podcast junkie while working! I follow about 30 different discussions on art, business, science, technology and spirituality. I learn so much from the endless research and stories of others, which help me through the long, sometimes lonely hours in the studio.