Artist Profile: Lucy Harvey

“I didn’t want to go to church one Sunday.”

photo of Lucy Harvey's glass sculpture at Glenn Dallas Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA
Sculpture, Glass

Lucy Harvey brings life and fluidity in everything she creates. She’s mastered the ability to construct complex compositions through color, form and exquisite craftsmanship. Guests at our gallery are in awe of her works, often referencing Chihuly. While we cannot dismiss Chihuly’s talent – we prefer working with Harvey.

Here at Glenn Dallas Gallery, we’re currently showing 5 vibrant, glass sculptures from the artist. The work is part of our 4th exhibition that features art from 53 regional, national & international women. This show ends July 3, but we’re looking forward to working with the Harvey on a regular basis.

Hali Galloway chatted with Harvey to learn more about her processes and inspiration. Read on to discover what keeps this artist alive & inspired.

Hali Galloway: What led/ influenced/ molded you to become an artist?

Lucy Harvey: When I was 10 years old I didn’t want to go to church one Sunday. I stayed home and created my first drawing of a swan. Looking back, it was amazing. From that point on I only wanted to draw and paint. Later, my mother hired an artist named Arthur Fitzsimmons to paint my portrait. We would drive two hours to his country studio and I would sit still for him while he masterfully painted my portrait. I loved this guy. I wanted to be just like him.

HG: How do those influences manifest themselves in your work?  (if they do at all)

LH: The way Arthur would study me and watch how light fell and lines moved was a huge influence. I observed him closely and learned how to study my subjects from watching him study me. As for education, I studied art in high school, got a BFA in college, and went on to get my Masters degree in painting.

HG: What inspired you to use recycled glass in your works, and how has your work with this medium molded you to be the artist that you are today?

LH: My mom died in 2001 on 9/11. I went back to the Midwest to help my sister pack up her estate. She had beautiful china and crystal stemware which had been chipped or broken. I couldn’t bear these items going to Goodwill so I had them packed up and sent to my ranch in Ojai, Ca. When I got back to California, the boxes of broken pieces arrived. That China was the basis for the sculptures I wanted to make for my four sisters – a memento to celebrate my mother. I built four hanging sculptures made with the pieces of mom’s china, her jewelry and other art glass. I called them “memory” sculptures containing memories which we each held close to our hearts. 
I didn’t stop there. Making glass sculptures, both hanging and standing, continued for years. Every piece I made sold at the Vault Gallery in Cambria, Ca. I left that gallery and now am with Glenn Dallas Gallery in Santa Barbara.

HG: What is your artistic process, and how do you get sharp, broken pieces of glass to have so much fluidity and life like in your Jellyfish works?

LH: That’s a hard question. There are the obvious pieces that I have melted and formed into fluid organic shapes. The glass shards I get from my glass blower with certain colors that create the intended movement visually.  All my sculptures have some razor sharp edges – it’s more of a visual color combination that make the works move.

HG: What are the themes and ideas that your works physically embody, and what is your intended reaction from the viewers?

LH: Lately I have been working on an underwater theme. I first made two Jellyfish, which got me started on with the underwater series. The melting and blowing of glass itself lends the movement which can be seen under water. Many Jellies are lethal or deadly, while looking stunningly beautiful. My Jellies have these characteristics they are beautiful, while dangerous to touch. As for reactions… any reaction, joyful or critical is fine with me. The worst thing any artist can see is someone walk past work and not notice. It happens from time to time and I want to scream. My work at this point in time has no particular message, aside from joy. I want someone to purchase my work because it makes them smile and feel good. There is too much unhappiness in the world that I don’t want to be part of anymore. Maybe it’s my age or experiences, but I feel there needs to be more goodness than strife in our world. If we can start with joy…well, that’s a nice start.

HG: How have you seen your work evolve from when you first became an artist to present day?

LH: It has changed and evolved many times since I was a little kid. On Saturdays at age twelve I went to painting class in a lady’s basement. The class consisted of mainly adults and one twelve-year-old girl all learning to paint realism.
In high school I painted abstract because I was bored with realism. In college one of my professors was allergic to oil paint(!), so I learned how to work with acrylics.
When I started my Masters, I went back to oil paints. I continued to paint and build mosaics for years. The day I opened my studio in Ojai, I started to experiment with more than paint and brushes. It was then that I started my journey in creating sculptures using found objects and broken glass. A collector of mine commissioned two large pieces which required I work with a team of tradesmen. Going from glass sculptures 12 – 14” high to 4 ft high and 9 ft wide was a huge leap. Having this team made my life as an artist so much easier. We did it – we made the biggest piece I’ve ever made. Many say it’s museum quality. I believe it is my best work yet.

HG: Lastly, what are some techniques, mediums, or ideas that you want to explore further in your career that you have not yet had the chance to explore?

LH: Holograph sculptures would be awesome. I experimented on my own but clearly it’s a medium so new and complicated – it may take a while to use it the way I would like to. I’m looking for a deeper understanding of the process and people who can help me and collaborate to make this happen.

The below work from Lucy Harvey is now on view at Glenn Dallas Gallery through July 4.

Lucy Harvey, Interviewed by Hali Galloway

Visit Glenn Dallas Gallery at 927 State St., or email for information about Lucy Harvey, or any artist featured in this online publication.