Blown Glass & Nature Photography at Strawn

By Kelly M. Gross, Director

The Art Association of Jacksonville is pleased to welcome landscape photographer Josh Merrill and glass artists Randy and Joy Turner to the David Strawn Art Gallery March 4-26th. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, March 4th from 6 -8 p.m. with “Gallery Talk” by the artists at 6:30 p.m. The gallery opening reception and “Gallery Talk” are free and open to the public.

Randy and Joy Turner run Larkfield Glass which is located near Paris, Illinois. Randy is the glassblower and Joy assists by running the business. Randy began blowing glass almost 30 years ago at a small arts & crafts facility in Stillwater, OK, near where he & Joy were students at Oklahoma State University.  Subsidized by the Parks & Recreation, this hot shop was a division of the Stillwater Parks and Recreation department which despite having had a small budget taught both Randy and Joy the love of glassblowing.

In the years since then, opportunities to blow glass were occasional and precious; either trading labor for studio time or taking more classes as possible.  The dream of opening a studio of their own was realized in late 2007. With the tremendous freedom of creating in his own studio, Randy is able to produce an explosion of color and form and totally unique creations.  “I am enthralled with colors and the ability of glass to display them with depth. The interaction of light with glass continues to excite and amaze me. Although I often create very controlled Venetian-style pieces, I much prefer to allow the hot glass to communicate to me where it wants to go. It’s a liquid, so let it be a liquid.”

The Turners exhibit their glass at 6-8 art festivals each year, as well as at a free monthly “Open House”, where he demonstrates actual glassblowing all day. A permanent chandelier installation at the Paris Public Library will be finished this fall.

Josh Merrill is an award-winning fine art nature photographer based out of Chicago, Illinois. He creates compelling photographs of the natural world through a unique vision. “My love for the art of photography began at a pretty early age. I had an insatiable curiosity for all things outdoors. I never lost that childlike curiosity for the natural world, but didn’t really have an outlet for expressing it in a constructive way. Getting my first real camera opened the door to a new world of expressing my love for creation. I took as many pictures as I could, as often as I could, and eventually honed my skills into creating images that people enjoyed seeing. Through photography I was able to share the unique moments that I saw and invite others into celebrating those moments along with me.”

Living in a largely urban environment, Josh learned to capture the profound beauty in even the smallest natural areas that he experienced. Josh went on to complete an Associate’s Degree in Photography from College of DuPage, and Bachelor’s degree in communications from Moody Bible Institute.

When photographing nature, Josh says “…there are often going to be scenes are obvious and just ask to be photographed. These often become the iconic scenes that are “over-photographed”, and usually for good reason. I still take those pictures, but often find the most satisfaction from photographing small scenes that take a little more work to find and appreciate.”

Josh’s photography has taken him to many incredible locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Josh especially enjoys photographing in extreme conditions, when many other photographers choose to stay at home. He is at his happiest when winter conditions are at their coldest. He can also be found in the summer trudging through mosquito-infested swamps before dawn, in search of an elusive dragonfly.

Gallery hours March 5 – 26 are: Sundays 1 -3 p.m. and Tuesday thru Saturday 4 – 6 p.m.

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