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Melissa Ayotte – Glass Paperweight Artist

Re-posted from Fear No Art Chicago

Melissa Ayotte may have been born among glass rods and the roar of the torch, but she is no mere apprentice to her father. In fact, the same curiosities that drew her father to the art pulled her in other directions. Her interest for many years has been in psychology, understanding human motivation and behavior. With this interest in mind sciences leading the way, Melissa found herself more and more interested in the Arts. She began taking photography and sculpture at the New Hampshire Institute of Art while also and delving into her own self-study of painting, poetry and the creative process.

Impossible to miss in the Ayotte household, glass called attention into the studio where she cold worked Rick’s pieces, pulled colored rod or assisted on design.

While finishing her Masters program at Antioch New England Graduate School, she apprenticed in the studio with Rick, and it was then that her interest in glass began to take hold. Upon obtaining her M.A., Melissa began pursuing a career in counseling and clinical psychology, while continuing her work in the studio.

Glass initially served as a refuge from the day to day of her career, but as her aptitude developed into skill, Melissa started taking more and more glass and generalized art classes, soon realizing she had found her true interest. In the year 2000 she spent time assisting at Stankard Studio and began full-time at Ayotte Glass Studio where she continues to create.

Melissa Ayotte, Black Eyed Susan

In taking to glasswork and learning to capture these small, still moments of life, she is discovering the most human of motivations: to create what was not there before. Melissa aims to push the limits of the paperweight, creating novel pieces which reflect her sense of the Nature–earthly, human and divine.

“I consider the limitations imposed by the spherical shape of the paperweight to be very liberating in the sense that I am forced to reckon with the boundaries of the glass and develop new ideas, techniques and creative approaches for expanding those boundaries. The shape itself provides a structure from which I can evolve my own sense of creativity, ultimately aiming to evolve the art of paperweight making in general.

“The more I become aware, open and awakened to the Natural world; the more closely I align with my true creative intention. By allowing my quest for expanded consciousness to lead my artistic expression I hope to develop new ways of understanding and experiencing not only glass, but life.

“My art is my practice, an alchemical experience of bending and shaping a solid, glass, into a liquid form then creating a sculpture from this change in material. I believe the glass artist is more than craftsman or artisan alone, rather a practioner of a higher-aim transformation. This transformation happens in the glass artist as she creates it, within the material while it changes shape and also, I hope within the viewer when he engages the sculpture.”