At the start of the new century — 21 years ago — Hope Forstenzer was at the end of her rope.
Burned out from a career in film and theatre, the New Yorker took ceramics as a way to get her equilibrium back.
Then, she found a place down the street that taught glass blowing.
Forstenzer took a lesson and never looked back. “I knew from the very second I was there that this was what I’d be doing for the rest of my life."
“It was like a lightening bolt.”
Three years later, she moved to Seattle to learn from the masters and to “absorb as much as I could,” she remembered.
By day she plied her craft as a graphic designer and professor, trading her skills for glass blowing courses and studio time.
But nine years ago, she relocated to Vancouver and joined the fledgling Terminal City Glass Co-op, then the first of its kind in Canada.
Today, the former instructor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design works and teaches at the co-op’s site at 1191 Parker St. in Vancouver, and is on its volunteer board of directors; she is also the manager of the Sidney and Gertrude Zach Gallery at the Jewish Community Centre, near Oakridge Centre.
Next Thursday, Forstenzer will open her latest glass blowing series titled The Dream of Flight, a display of a dozen new pieces that runs at PoMoArts (2425 St. Johns St., Port Moody) until Oct. 28.
As the title suggests, the show focuses in on flight — in particular, wings — to convey a sense of escape. Forstenzer drew on historical and mythological characters and creatures as a source of inspiration for her collection: for example, the phoenix, Horus of Egypt and the two ravens Hugin and Munin in Norse mythology who help the spirits of the god Odin.
The story of Icarus, she said, has always been a fascination (in Greek mythology, Icarus flew too close to the sun and caused the wax in his wings to melt).
“Trying to be a person with wings is ludicrous,” she said, “but why are human beings so obsessed with them in history? We love the idea of flying. We literally dream of it. We imagine, What is an angel without wings? It’s the idea of the impossible.”
Flight, she said, “has a tremendous amount of excitement for people and we seek it in different ways. We create myths that fly with or at us.”
Forstenzer said the purpose of her glass sculptures is to tell a story and evoke emotion. She wants to communicate a feeling or a state “or, in this case, a fascination with this thing that no human can have. It’s a fantasy.”
• You can hear Hope Forstenzer speak about her glass artwork on Sept. 29 on PoMoArts’ Facebook page. The discussion begins at 7:15 p.m. Besides The Dream of Flight, two other exhibits open on Sept. 23 at PoMoArts: Art 4 Life and Water Speaks. Visit pomoarts.ca.