Winter 2015 - Spring 2016

Barrie Kaufman, a West Virginia artist, approached Pittsburgh Glass Center about a residency with master glass artist Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen to create a new body of work based on the water poisoning incident that occurred in her hometown of Charleston, WV.

Barrie Kaufman’s art projects have consistently looked at issues in the environment, particularly how negative environmental events have impacted animals and birds.

In early 2014, a coal washing chemical spilled into the local water supply and polluted the water. Residents were urged not to wash their hands, bathe or cook with the water for six weeks. The smell of the chemical stuck to the plastic pipes for months.

Kaufman’s glass sculpture, an assemblage of six hand blown pipes, birds and elements will be created and assembled at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Master glass artist Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen from Bow, Washington, who specializes in sculpted glass animals, leads a team of local glass artists to assist Kaufman with the project. The sculpture will be displayed at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts to bring attention to clean water and to start a dialogue with the community on issues of conservation and sustainability.   

Barrie Kaufman is a well-known West Virginia artist who has been addressing environmental concerns in her work for some time. In 2014 she was voted West Virginia artist of the year. She has received numerous grants including The Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Painted Bride in Philadelphia. She has work in the permanent collection of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and at the Jane Vorhees Fine Art Museum in Rutgers, New Jersey. She has exhibited at Sothebys, Stockholm and in many other national venues. Her work in this residency will bring attention to the important issue of conservation and water pollution.


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