Since moving Amri Studio up to our new home in Portland, Oregon, we've been captivated by the MAGIC that now occurs in formerly abandoned industrial spaces in the Pacific Northwest. These once-forsaken and relinquished spaces, vast and high-ceilinged, invite makers and creativity, and are now home to high-end art, architecture, and fine artisanal craft. Spaces once busy but now abandoned, drafty, wet, and dirty now birth inspired, elegant creations.
Artists have always had a nose for wonderful and inexpensive spaces in which to create their art. In Portland, these spaces have already been discovered. The most coveted of real estate, they are industrial chic and hard to come by. A case in point is Portland's Pearl District.
In fact, Amri Studio took a messy and daunting space — dark, leaky, and sparking with shorting electrical wires — and transformed it to “bring to light” our intricately conceived, exquisitely crafted, luminous, nationally acclaimed, and award-winning crystal art. Our work can be found across North America in leading medical centers, universities, museums, the hospitality industry, corporate offices, and luxury homes.
This SCULPTURE is a breathtaking 10’ high slab of hand-carved crystal in a locally machined steel welded frame. This juxtaposition of opposites highlights LADY FREEDOM’s elegance. Seen at the top of this post, we have rendered her in an abandoned warehouse — to articulate freedom and possibilities.
The figure’s breathtaking beauty and Statue of Liberty type gesture, and the swirl of birds being released into the sky express both freedom and high ideals, the very essence of the artist’s path.
Designed in the tradition of Rene Lalique’s superb crystal mascot figures and the style of American Modernist sculptors, who used heroic and allegorical figures in their building ornamentation, our Lady Freedom is bas-relief deep-carved in high-polished crystal.
This sculpture demonstrates one of the most challenging technical processes in working with glass. The large, deep, and rounded forms of the human body are sculpted more than halfway into the almost 2” thickness of the crystal. For hundreds of hours, high-pressure abrasive was hand-guided by Christina and her team in an industrial blast booth originally designed for carving headstones and memorials. During this process, the glass artisan must scoop out a perfectly smooth and sensual thigh or breast from a block of material that weighs hundreds of pounds, costs thousands of dollars, and is almost totally unforgiving.
It is a Zen process, where a moment’s inattention or a wavering hand can ruin it.
Another challenge is that the shaping and sculpting is done both backwards and inside out – meaning that the blasting is done on the back of the crystal. The body’s apparent high points are in fact the carving’s low points. This piece is a demonstration of master-level artisanship. It is a demanding process. There is nothing automated or chemical about it.
Now complete, the deep bas-relief carving in the slab illuminates itself via custom-engineered LED edge-lighting hidden inside the side rails of the steel frame. The LIGHT travels through the glass like a fiber optic, emerging out the top through the exposed polished edges.
The process of creating this piece — the evolution from sandblasting GRIT to high-polished GLEAM — echoes the transformation that occurs when we bring light and creativity into seemingly unwelcoming warehouse spaces — or to any difficult endeavor!
Our studio has now spent four years in our new neighborhood in Portland, and we’re learning neighbor by neighbor some of the extraordinary and state-of-the-art things going on behind old industrial doors. We are appreciating the power inherent in the juxtaposition of opposites, and the visioning of as-yet-unseen and brilliant possibilities.
In fact, much of our work seeks to deeply honor the VISIONARIES among us — those who have the ability to see what isn’t yet seeable, and who innovate and launch challenging endeavors before others can see the benefit of it. We honor the daring transformations, and the leaders — Donors, Development Officers, often entire Communities — who have been passionate enough to envision them. Over and over again, they determinedly nurture their ideas into existence.
As we transition into Fall, a time of transformation, we invite you to “see the future through the lens of possibility”. Like our edge-lit, luminous Lady Freedom, we must all also release our own light.
Christina and Team