Amy Schleif

Born in: 1976, United States
Lives in: Moruya Heads, Australia
Describe your art in three words: Beautifully uncomfortable
Discipline: Glass Art
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts - University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Master of Art Visual Art - Glass Workshop - Australian National University
See More Work:

Seeing No. 50 - Hand engraved glass, Mirror & Custom Frame - 100 x 100 x 10cm

"I am interested in creating spaces that explore the constant change of our perception depending on our emotional states and physical perspectives. I explore this through the use of colour, reflection, shadow and time. As the viewer’s physical perspective changes, the reflections work to hide areas and light penetrates to expose new colours and shadows, resulting in a change in perception."

What themes does your work involve?

Broadly my work involves how we perceive the world around us and the filters that influence that perception. Recently I have focused on the ideas of recovery and reflection in the context of our perception. This particular work attempts to create a circumstance for the viewer to become aware that we can put our daily life distractions in front of seeing our reality clearly. Often, seeing this reality clearly is fleeting, because of those daily distractions. So, sometimes, we have the opportunity to see ourselves and then it is gone.

Describe your creative process.
My creative process begins with looking at my surroundings and my sketch book. I am forever looking at the landscape, how the mountains intersect one another to the horizon and how the ocean seems to reflect a similar line quality. In my sketch book I draw many contour lines in differing compositions. These compositions are then edited down to a few. I make decisions about which lines are on the front of the glass and which are on the back, and delineate where the glass will stay clean and clear. Then I begin to draw all the lines that fill the shapes with a diamond scribe. Decisions about line direction happen as the work evolves. I think about how I want the light to catch at just a specific point to underpin the ideas of distraction and clear reality.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Over the years I have developed a habit of watching peoples behaviour. I look at how two people often have completely different perceptions of an event or circumstance, different perspectives. I also look at what we use as distractions to avoid confronting and taking responsibility for our own behaviour. I try to create works that encourage us to look at ourselves and the impact our behaviour has on others. Hoping to create awareness. I also look at my surrounding landscape of mountains, rivers, beach and ocean, this is what inspires the line quality I seek. I use the beautiful line quality and the sparkle of the glass to draw the viewer in, to then confront them with a fleeting glimpse of themselves. I make art because I have to, like I have to breathe. It is not a choice for me.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Good art is compelling and challenging. I respond to works that make me feel a bit uncomfortable and challenge me. Works that are incessant, that don't allow reprieve, that demand attention. It takes guts to really look at art, really look at it. It is a window into how another human being thinks, great art give us this opportunity. Great art gives us viewers questions to ask and perhaps answer.
What is the role of the artist today?
I am an artist, because I can't be anything else. It is the core of who I am as a person. I see the role of the artist in contemporary society as almost a truth Sayer. Someone asking meaningful questions, making society see truth, encouraging the movement forward and to be a bit of a contrarian.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist