Elizabeth Robinson

Elizabeth Robinson did not take art classes while enrolled at the Mississippi University for Women. Until the school featured a 20-year retrospective of her work, she did not even know where the art department was located. In fact, glass sculpture wasn't located anywhere on her personal radar until, in 1980, she needed a job and went to work for Andy Young at the Pearl River Glass Studio, to help manage the place. "You couldn't work in that environment without developing a vocabulary for glass," says the auburn-haired glass artist and entrepreneur. And so, for the next 10 years, Robinson immersed herself in the world of glass, learning from Young and from Susan Ford, a local glassblower.

Robinson used to work with glass and steel and make jewelry, but now she works primarily with dichroic glass, which is coated with thin layers of metallic oxides such as titanium, silicon and magnesium. Light changes the colors of the dichroic pieces; therefore, the pieces seem to be in constant flux. Recently, the Mississippi Museum of Art Auxiliary commissioned a piece from Robinson in honor of the Mississippi Museum of Art's centennial. She designed a triptych "spirit house," which you just have to see to understand, as she isn't fond of explaining it. For the second year in a row, she also designed the awards given out at the annual Governor's Arts Awards. This year, the awards feature the seal of Mississippi bent into the glass; last year, the state of Mississippi was treated similarly.

"I'm not even sure what the piece is going to look like until it's completed," she says. "Then I get to step back and see it as a viewer. But it pleases me when other people see something different than I do."

Glass is not, however, how Robinson makes her living. She has a number of other gigs on the side, including an Internet-based company that trains legal support staff (http://www.Way2Smart.com) and a design company called Belles Gone Bad. Jane Sanders is her business partner in both, and Kay Holloway and Debbie Allen are also partners in Belles Gone Bad. Soon, Jackson-area businesses might sell T-shirts designed by the company, which feature '50s-era women either bowling, playing golf or baseball, depending on the shirt, with the words "Belles with Balls: We Take Our Games Seriously."

Currently, Robinson is in an apartment she and friends keep in the French Quarter, celebrating Mardi Gras. You can also find her in her studio at the new Artery of Fondren, a studio space/coffee shop on North State Street that should be open within the next month.

— Lori Herring


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