Local glass artist finds comfort, focus in 100-Day Project during quarantine
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — During the first few weeks of Colorado’s stay-at-home order, from within their individual confines of quarantine, plenty of Steamboat Springs residents found themselves experiencing a similar, shared emotional low. Local glass artist Jennifer Baker was one of them.
While galleries and retail shops were closed due to COVID-19, her creative funk wasn’t for a lack of a to-do list. Baker had lots of art projects to work on, including a July show planned for Pine Moon Fine Art, called “Spaces of Comfort.”
“There was just so much stress and anxiety and so many unknowns,” she said. “I had trouble focusing. I’d be in my studio and realize I was just staring.”
Baker knew she needed something to snap her back into focus, and in early April, she came across an idea that sounded promising: The 100-Day Project. This project unites people across the world each spring in committing to explore creativity in some way every day for 100 days, photos of which can be shared on social media tagged as #The100DayProject. This year’s project officially kicked off April 7, but the schedule can be as flexible as each participant needs.
For her 100-piece project, Baker decided to complete a small glass tile, 6 inches by 6 inches. She envisioned the 100-day project, called “Wild Wall Flowers,” as a complement to “Spaces of Comfort.”
“I had to think back and think, ‘What do I miss? What are some good memories?’” Baker recalled and found her imagination frolicking through gardens brimming with bright flowers.
Baker’s love of flowers has grown since childhood, when she and her grandmother would spend mornings exploring her grandmother’s garden.
Throughout Baker’s art career, she’s noticed that she usually creates floral pieces toward the end of winter, when she’s missing flowers, sunshine and summer. As Baker began the 100-Day Project, the wintry, early April weather felt in line with that pattern.
“I wanted to get as far away from the cold, dark winter as I could,” she said.
Her first squares featured flowers and seascapes in tropical hues, then meandered through flora from both Baker’s memories and her imagination.
“After a few days, I started getting bigger ideas and started opening up more,” she said.
And as the weather outside her studio thawed, Baker began circling back to flowers in familiar mountainscapes. As the days ticked by, she found herself letting the design of her art get a bit more adventurous.
“I got looser with where I went, not hesitating, not being afraid to do some different things,” Baker said. “It was definitely freeing, in a sense.”
She experimented with new color combinations and styles of petals; she played around with new layouts. She painted delicate touches of Italian 23-karat gold to make flowers look “kissed by the sun.”
The 6-by-6 “Wild Wall Flower” only took up a part of Baker’s time in her studio; much of the rest of the time was devoted to “Spaces of Comfort.” The former, she found, helped her with the latter.
“In doing this 100-Day Project, I really found focus for the rest of the show,” she said. “The 100-Day project zapped me out of being a little lost and forced me to channel things back to something attainable.”
The project’s influence didn’t end with Baker. Somewhere along the journey, Baker’s preteen daughter took notice of her mom’s project and decided to launch her own 100-Day Project in writing. She’s been very dedicated so far, Baker reported.
Baker is currently on tile number 70-something. Once the project is complete at 100 tiles, she’ll set about bringing them into a comprehensive wall hanging at Pine Moon Fine Art. The back of each tile will be numbered by day for the 100 days, and each will be for sale individually.
“I’m so thankful that I had my art (during time at home),” Baker said. “It was very therapeutic to be able to go into my studio and be able to create these spaces where I wanted to go. My art definitely got me through the darker times (of COVID-19).”
“Spaces of Comfort” opens at Pine Moon Fine Art on Friday, July 3, and interested viewers may schedule private viewings throughout the month. Baker hopes viewers will be uplifted by the colors and varieties and maybe even inspired to give their own 100-Day Project a try.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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