Artists Statements

Karen Willenbrink Johnsen

"I was raised in southwest Ohio, the naturalist daughter of a naturalist father. Many a day were spent on the forays through the woods, exploring fossils, animals and trees-all the while being imbued with a love of the natural world. I’m constantly inspired, revitalized and awed by the power of nature.

My ever-evolving experience with glass began after I received my BFA in sculpture from Ohio University and glass soon became the driving force in my life. I spent several years developing my skills in the Catskill Mountain region of New York, and have lived and worked since 1987 near the Cascade Mountain range in Washington State. Sixteen years of working with glass artist William Morris has taught me to follow my own unique vision and let the enthusiasm of my spirit guide my ideas. My passion for the nature that surrounds me has taken root in my work, forming an indelible kinship.

I have a natural inclination for adventure, and have traveled North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, drawing on the diverse environments of these regions as inspiration for my work. I also find a creative spark in observing diverse varieties of animals, complex interaction with humans, and their relationship with each other. Venues such as dog shows, a rodeo, or an intense bird-watching expedition, most always provides a burst of lasting creative energy.

As I have developed as a glass artist, my conceptual urges have become intrinsic-my work arises from a need to experience and acknowledge the essence of living things. It is the passion that drives me to further explore and intensify the expression of my craft."

After earning her BFA in sculpture from Ohio University, glass quickly became the driving force in Karen’s life. She moved to Washington State in 1987, and soon afterward she began working as an assistant to the legendary glass artist William Morris. Karen’s unique vision and passion for glass is evident in her work, which has been shown extensively in galleries and museums throughout the country. She co-teaches sculpting classes throughout the world with her husband and collaborator, Jasen Johnsen.

Jasen Johnsen

“I have always had a strong desire to create things. Working with glass continually pushes me into new realms, satisfying my inclination to use my hands and drawing on my tendency to think about things technically and precisely. Each project is an adventure, testing my strengths and challenging my knowledge of the material. It is natural for Karen and I to work collaboratively. Bird watching is something we both really enjoy. It is all about observation – really seeing, and not just watching. We look at so much more that the birds, we discuss the pattern, colors and textures of logs, flora, rocks and animal tracks, and how they can be translated into glass.”

Jasen Johnsen served as the head studio technician at Pilchuck Glass School for nearly 10 years. He worked as teaching assistant for Pino Signoretto and Hank Murta Adams, before beginning to co-teach classes with his wife, Karen.

jasen johnsen guitar

glass guitar by Jasen Johnsen

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