Since graduating from VCU’s School of the Arts in 2010, Arlie Trowbridge has become a seriously accomplished artist creating wearable glass pieces and producing work for her jewelry line, Urban Revisions. You may have seen her signature glass cluster rings and necklaces or her shredded scarves in Quirk’s shop over the years. Her work has been featured in Real Simple, Nylon, Ready Made, Good Housekeeping, and is the April issue of Southern Living. For her current Vault Show at Quirk, Arlie created a large body of brand new pieces that are absolutely stunning. After her opening earlier this month, Arlie answered a few questions for us from her home and studio in Asheville, North Carolina.
Quirk Gallery: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up? How did your artistic pursuits begin?
Arlie Trowbridge: I was born in Richmond and grew up in a few different areas of Virginia including Ashland and Norfolk. I spent all my time making art as a kid, so attending VCU art school was a no brainer. I loooved art school. Exploring so many different mediums in Art Foundation was heaven to me! I chose Photography & Film as my major but discovered glass while fulfilling an elective credit during my senior year. At the time, I was receiving the VMFA undergrad fellowship for my work in photography and was able to quit my part time job lifeguarding and start an online shop under the name Urban Revisions to sell my creations. Things really took off shortly after I graduated in 2010 and I have been giving Urban Revisions my full time attention ever since. I made the move to Asheville about two years ago. A lot of friends were migrating here and everytime I visited I felt a sort of ease and charm that I hadn’t found anywhere else. I love living on mountain time. People are rarely in a rush but they work hard and get things done. It’s a nice pace for my studio practice and the scenery in Asheville is gorgeous!
QG: What is it that inspires your work? How did your glass jewelry develop and evolve?
AT: I am inspired by natural forms and how light can affect any given moment. My style of glass jewelry evolved by experimentation. The first year I spent on the torch, I worked solely with clear glass and focused most of my time building textures and watching how the light would react within a piece. I have always been a ring kind of gal. I’ll never forget the day I created my glass cluster ring design. I had just picked it up from the kiln at the VCU crafts studio and was riding in my friends car… I held my hand out the window in the bright sunlight and knew wearable glass was my true love! I have been experimenting with the clusters for four years now and I never get bored.
QG: Is there something about the work exhibited at Quirk that you hope viewers will recognize? What do you hope they’ll take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?
AT: I hope people will gain some sense of awe and bewilderment when viewing my new crystal pieces. I get an overwhelming sense of excitement watching my textures evolve while flameworking. It’s very similar to how I feel while standing in my favorite crystal shop. It’s hard to believe these beautiful forms exist! When I discovered I could facet glass to look so similar to quartz or amethyst, I couldn’t believe that was real either.
QG: What’s next for you and your future work? Are you working on any other projects?
AT: Along with growing my jewelry line under Urban Revisions, I am hoping to create bigger glass pieces this coming summer. I have been dabbling in some sculptural ideas that will live and move in windows.
QG: How do you find artistic inspiration? How do you stay motivated?
AT: These days, I stay motivated and inspired by working. Even when I don’t feel like it, even if I’m in an awful mood, if I force myself behind the torch and start melting glass, something clicks and my mind and hands are so happy! Make, make, make! It’s incredibly satisfying.
QG: We know Asheville is home for you now but you did spend some time in Richmond. Do you think RVA has changed since you left? In what ways?
AT: Absolutely and it’s amazing to me everything that’s happened in just a few years. The murals around town are incredible and all the little independent shops and studios popping up! It seems like a very healthy growth.
QG: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do or places to go?
AT: My boyfriend and real true love (glass is second, I suppose) Stephen and I enjoy over indulging at the amazing breweries and restaurants in Asheville. We often travel to camp out music festivals in the summer and have a crazy good time! We recently went on a trip to Costa Rica and I can’t wait to go back.
Arlie Trowbridge’s Vault exhibition at Quirk continues through April 26. Her work can be seen along with Amy Rice’s Main Gallery exhibition and Adam Juresko’s Shop Show.
Photos courtesy of Arlie Trowbridge and Urban Revisions.