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Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen and Jen Elek

  • Jackson Dinsdale Art Center 700 East 12th Street Hastings, NE, 68901 United States (map)

The public is welcome to come watch these amazing artists blow glass in the Hastings College-Jackson Dinsdale Art Center on November 14-16. 
The artists lecture is November 15 at 7:00 pm in the Wilson Center on campus. 

Artists Statement
Karen Willenbrink Johnsen

"I was raised in southwest Ohio, the naturalist daughter of a naturalist father. Many a day were spent on the forays through the woods, exploring fossils, animals, and trees-all the while being imbued with a love of the natural world. I’m constantly inspired, revitalized and awed by the power of nature.

My ever-evolving experience with glass began after I received my BFA in sculpture from Ohio University and glass soon became the driving force inmy life. I spent several years developing my skills in the Catskill Mountain region of New York, and have lived and worked since 1987 near the Cascade Mountain range in Washington State. Sixteen years of working with glass artist William Morris has taught me to follow my own unique vision and let the enthusiasm of my spirit guide my ideas. My passion for the nature that surrounds me has taken root in my work, forming an indelible kinship.

I have a natural inclination for adventure and have traveled North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, drawing on the diverse environments of these regions as inspiration for my work. I also find a creative spark in observing diverse varieties of animals, complex interaction with humans, and their relationship with each other. Venues such as dog shows, a rodeo, or an intense bird-watching expedition, most always provides a burst of lasting creative energy.

As I have developed as a glass artist, my conceptual urges have become intrinsic-my work arises from a need to experience and acknowledge the essence of living things. It is the passion that drives me to further explore and intensify the expression of my craft."

After earning her BFA in sculpture from Ohio University, glass quickly became the driving force in Karen’s life. She moved to Washington State in 1987, and soon afterward she began working as an assistant to the legendary glass artist William Morris. Karen’s unique vision and passion for glass is evident in her work, which has been shown extensively in galleries and museums throughout the country. She co-teaches sculpting classes throughout the world with her husband and collaborator, Jasen Johnsen.
Karens website is 

Jen Elek

Jen Elek is a Northwest studio artist and educator working in
glass. Jen utilizes blown furnace glass to create sculptural
objects that display the materials ability to reflect, magnify
and represent bold color. Traditional and innovative
processes combine in Jen’s work to create colorful
landscapes of glass.
Elek holds a BFA from The New York school of Art and
Design at Alfred University. Since moving to Seattle, WA in
1995 Jen has worked as both a glass artist and metal
fabricator for many notable Northwest artists. Jen is a glass
educator who teaches art workshops throughout the world.
Recently, Jen has taught workshops at The Pilchuck Glass
School in Stanwood WA, Penland School for Crafts in North
Carolina, The Jam Factory in Adelaide AUS and Urban glass
in NY. In the 2018 spring semester, Jen will be teaching
furnace glass and light phenomenon at the University of
Washington 3-d art program,
Currently, Jen shares a neon and metal fabrication studio
with husband Jeremy Bert in South Seattle. Jen exhibits her
work internationally. In the spring of 2017Jen was awarded
the Pilchuck Artist at Work Residency where she developed
a new body of work titled, “Visual Fun” which high-lights the
infallibility and vibrant colors of glass. Jen is represented in
Seattle by The Traver gallery and The Schantz Gallery in
Stockbridge MA. Jen’s Website is

Earlier Event: November 14
i AM me Grand Opening & Holiday Open House
Later Event: November 16
Celebration of Lights