Interview with Emily as told to Tori Weston.
Please tell us about your background and how you came to Somerville.
I moved to Somerville in 2008, but had been working with Somerville agencies for years before that. I work in art and in public health, often at the intersection of the two.
At what age did your creative journey begin?
I’ve always made art. As a child I built and painted and drew and sculpted. Then while I was in High School I made a stained glass window for family friends, and other people started to ask me for windows as well. My commission business grew even before I was ready! Since then I’ve continued to work with glass in many forms, including stained glass and mosaic, and I’ve learned to weld. I work part time at the Beautiful Stuff Project, a creative reuse center here in Somerville, and I love to find ways to use the unexpected upcycled materials that come our way.
Who or what inspires your work?
I’m inspired by Gaudi, with his sinuous lines and playful spaces, and by artists like Isaiah Zagar, who create immersive fantastical spaces. I believe that art is a way to build community, to share information, and to improve health. Most of my projects are collaboratively designed and created as a way for community members to build ownership of a space.
What is your favorite medium to work in?
I love glass and metal, because both allow me to work at a large scale and to change the way that a space feels. Mosaic is my favorite medium for collaborative projects because each person can literally "add their piece”.
How do you determine which medium a piece will be in?
Since my work is often large and almost always collaborative, I choose materials based on practical requirements; Will it be strong enough for someone to sit on? Will it survive the freeze-thaw cycle outdoors? Are the pieces safe for small children? Every piece is an engineering challenge, a logistical struggle, and a learning process, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
How does one find your work?
You can always find me at Somerville Open Studios, and my pendants are for sale at Nellie’s Wildflowers on Holland Street. If you’re an immigrant to Somerville you can join my Spanish-language craft and conversation group for immigrant parents at the Somerviva office on Friday mornings, and you can find me for collaborative projects through the Beautiful Stuff Project. I’m on Instagram @studio_b63, and my websites are www.glassandlead.com and www.connectionlab.org.