The very essence of life is celebrated through the art glass design pieces displayed in The Gallery at Yahara Bay Distillery, 6250 Nesbitt Road, No. 200, Fitchburg. “Water Spirit: An Exhibition of Art Glass Designs by Barbara Westfall, M.F.A.” reflects the “beauty and grandeur, and ultimate inter-connectedness of all Earth’s water — from our rain, to groundwater, to fresh-water lakes, as well as oceans and underwater gardens.”
An ecological artist, Westfall has spent two decades exploring the theme of water in her art using it to raise awareness of the sacred nature of, and need, to protect the fragility of all water. Integrating art and ecology, she calls attention to and/or offers solutions to ecological issues.
Growing up in the 1960s in the rural outskirts of Elgin, Ill., Westfall developed a love of nature which still leads her in her art today. Her love of design and building was inspired by watching her father draw blueprints and construct homes in her neighborhood. And, visiting downtown Chicago and seeing the towering Picasso and Miro sculptures opened her eyes to the idea of working large.
“My home is on the shore of the Sugar River with its surrounding wetlands in western Dane County, Wisconsin,” said Westfall in her artist’s statement. “The colors, forms and materials I see in nature inspire me. Glass melted at varying temperatures in a kiln, wood, shell, natural stone and metal are the ingredients in my art. My creative process is intrinsically woven into my day-to-day interactions with the natural world.”
Some pieces of her artwork reflect the coastal lands and waters of western Florida. Westfall spends time there amidst mangroves, sun and sand while escaping harsh Wisconsin winters.
The prospect of having her “Water Spirit” exhibit in The Gallery at Yahara Bay Distillery inspired Westfall. “Distillers depend on clean water to produce quality spirits,” she said. “The delicious flavors and remarkable hues are the result of fine ingredients mixed with quality water. A section of newly created art in the exhibit is inspired by the rich colors and viscosity of bourbon, brandy, rum, limoncello and other liqueurs.”
Westfall’s stylized urban-nature art glass designs on display in The Gallery at Yahara Bay Distillery can be purchased. She also does custom work; her pieces can be found in healthcare, financial, university, business and private collections.
— Robyn Norton