KAREN + JASEN WILLENBRINK-JOHNSEN

 photo by Russell Johnson

Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen creates astonishing work derived from her love of adventure, nature, and glass. Raised in Ohio, the naturalist daughter of an naturalist father, Willenbrink-Johnsen is "constantly inspired, revitalized, and awed by the power of nature".   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.

 “I am constantly inspired and awed by the power of nature. My study of Raptors has been an obsession, and my passion for the natural environment that surrounds me has long taken root in my work, forming and indelible kinship. As I have developed as a glass artist, my conceptual urges have become intrinsic; my work comes from a need to experience and acknowledge the
essence of living things. It is this passion that drives me to further explore and intensify the expression of my craft.

Telling a story is essential to my endeavors.  The effect of layered glass patterns is to freeze moments in time. I want my glass to capture the concept and context of images from the natural world, to give dimension and depth to  those who experience them. Glass art should be exciting, and artistic techniques should be employed only when they enhance the message.”

 

EDUCATION 

Raptors of the Pacific Northwest, Padilla Bay Center, Bow, WA 2001-02 2013

Mosaic/Felice Nittolo, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1998

Apprentice to Maestro, Fournasier Chandelier Studio/Bruno Zanetti, Murano, Italy 1993

Glass Sculpture/Pino Signoretto, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1993-99

Bachelor of FineArts/Sculpture, Ohio University, Athens, OH 1984

AWARDS 

Acquisition, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA 2006

Artist Trust and the Washington State Arts Council Grant, Seattle, WA 1999

Poncho Scholarship, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1999

General Scholarship, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1998

Newcomb Women’s Art Grant, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 1995

Corning Award/Outstanding Student, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1994

Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, Nominated, New York, NY 1994

General Scholarship, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA 1993

 

COMMISSIONS

2013 St. Andrews Hospital, Native Birds Installation, Bend, OR

2002 Children’s Hospital, Sea Life Installation, Seattle, WA
Dr. Howard Mizuta/Dental Clinic, Flower Installation, Mount Vernon, WA

2001 University of Washington Medical Center, Flora & Fauna Install, Seattle, WA
American Craft Museum, Flowers, New York, NY

PUBLICATIONS

 City Dog Magazine, "Artist Profile: Hot Stuff", Cathy Herholdt, Spring 2006

 Glass Art Magazine, “The Nature of Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen", Shawn Waggoner Jan./Feb. Issue 2005

 Glass Art Society Journal, “About My Art,” Julian Lewis, Fall Issue 1995

 Glass Magazine, Cover & Article, “Hot House Flowers,” Fall Issue 19ens, OH 1984