Alexis Silk Illinois
BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Alexis Silk works in molten glass and metal to create figurative works that are timeless yet thought provoking. A student of human form, she combines close knowledge of anatomy with a passion for fire and an unquenchable thirst for meaning.
Technically, Alexis is pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Her glass figures are sculpted entirely free-hand while the glass is hot on the end of blowpipe or punty rod. With work ranging in scale to life-size torsos hanging in six-foot tall steel frames, her largest figures are close to half her body weight and take a team of five or six assistants to handle the glass while she sculpts it. For her cast metal pieces she pours the molten bronze or iron.
While making intrinsically beautiful objects, Alexis explores issues of human nature, society, and the relationship of humans, nature and industry. Her hanging figures, for example, are an eloquent exploration of objectification of the body. The glass simultaneously appears like skin and evokes a sense of something superficially applied, like a garment. Cast iron “meat” hooks are a visceral comment on objectification of the body. The color on the interior of the torso being different than the exterior color suggests that if one goes below surface appearance there is more to be discovered. Steel frames represent conceptual boxes of perception that society puts us in.
Since receiving her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005, Alexis has continued to study with glass masters such as Pino Signoretto, Richard Royal and Boyd Sugiki. She has been working full time as an artist since 2006. Today she has work in museums, galleries, private collections and fine art shows around the country.
All pieces are sculpted freehand while the glass is hot. Smaller scale pieces are typically solid glass, larger scale pieces are blown glass. With the glass on the blowpipe, Alexis uses tools to shape it. Blown glass pieces are shaped from inside as well as outside the piece. She applies color at various stages of the process and with various techniques. Blown pieces typically have complementary colors on interior and exterior. Colored glass powder applied to the exterior adds texture and enhances details on some pieces. She then cold-works pieces to further shape them, creating flat bases and polished edges. For hanging figures, she fabricates steel frames including cutting, grinding, welding, sanding and/or acid bath, and finishing wax. For large scale hanging figures, she fastens glass side panels into the steel frame. Hooks, pulleys, blocks, and chains for hanging figures are found, industrial cast iron. Each hanging torso is shaped to the specific hook(s) that will be part of the finished piece.