We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawna Jarvis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawna, why did you pursue a creative career?
I don’t think I had a choice! I spent years in the corporate world following artificial rules for living your best life. When fate and an angry boss changed my destiny, it was art that picked me up off the floor. A quote by Carolyn Myss woke me up to the fact that creativity is necessary for me to be a happy and productive person. She said, “Creative people that aren’t creating are depressed.” And so my life transformation began from corporate marketing executive to gypsy artist. Today I certainly don’t make the same amount of money, but my quality of life and my happiness are exponentially better. I call my business Bodacious Life Project because I believe you are solely responsible for creating your life. It is a choice you make every day and it does not end until you take your last breath.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My primary art focus is stained glass and it is an old craft that is fading in popularity for both the artisan and the buyer. When I mention glass art people tend to think in terms of the traditional, religious stained glass windows hanging in churches. My glass windows are contemporary expressions of this ancient art form. I enjoy incorporating different glass forms into a single window. I often leave open areas in a window so that I can hang prisms or glass figurines in the centers. I also like to upcycle chandeliers and light fixtures into 3D glass globes or glass mosaic windows. To me, the beauty of glass art is its changing appearance throughout the day. The prisms cast rainbows into a sunny room and an ocean scene can be colorful during the day and somber at night.
When I picked up my tools after decades away I discovered stained glass is a dying art. When I began searching for glass and supplies, I discovered the majority of stained glass stores were closed. At the time I was living in Louisville, KY and there were two stores there. When I moved back to Houston I discovered there is only one fully dedicated store. There are online options however, you are left trusting the employees to pick out your glass. For a glass artist, it’s like buying paint and saying just send me whatever color you think I need. Each piece of glass is unique in its color density, texture, and transparency. I need to look at each piece of glass and visualize its color combinations in the window I’m creating. To solve the problem I eventually had to go directly to the glass wholesalers to purchase my glass or I take a 1-2 day road trip to the larger glass stores across the country. It’s a challenge, but worth getting the right glass for the perfect window. When I couldn’t get glass bevels I went to resale shops and purchased old light fixtures. When crystal prisms became hard to purchase I found discarded chandeliers.
Through all the challenges I discovered that you have to believe in yourself and what you have to offer. Challenges are truly opportunities to do something different. The old artisan techniques and art forms can be contemporary and beautiful. I want people to see stained glass outside the churches and into their houses. Whether they want a window to hide an ugly view or rainbows dancing through their kitchen from a sunny window, Stained glass is a dynamic art made for today’s world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Having traveled across this country, I can attest that people still think we all have horses and live in a desert. To change this perception I would definitely start with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The staff has curated an amazing collection of art and special exhibits that no matter what time of year you will see something you enjoy. I would also take them to NASA because the space program is so integral to our history and the technological advances we have achieved in such a short period of time. I would include a few road trips highlighting the alligators and swamps in Southwest Houston, the piney woods of North Houston, the outdoor art sculptures downtown, and most certainly the medical center, which is one of the largest in the world.
As for food, this city is a foody’s nirvana. I’d take them to the coast for some fresh-off-the-boat seafood and to hole in the wall barbeque joints. The city’s fusion restaurants provide some of the most intriguing and delicious meals that you can’t get anywhere else. No matter the person’s palate there is something available in Houston.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s impossible to narrow my success down to the support and encouragement of one person, group, or organization. Everyone contributes every day. From the smiling elderly homeless man that gives me a smile and encouragement to ‘slay dragons’, the troubled individual that comes to me for a reading, the child that is mesmerized by the rainbows my glass globes reflect, or to my mom that no matter what always has my back. I take wisdom, encouragement, and inspiration from the everyday people that cross my path. So I dedicate my success to those that get up every day and keep moving forward. To the individuals that are unaware of the happiness and joy, they spread simply by being themselves.
Facebook: Dawna Brown Jarvis