New Orleans-based artist James Vella, known for his strikingly realistic glass trout and delicate goblets, has assumed the position of glass studio manager as of May 1, 2017, at YAYA (Young Aspirations Young Artists), a New Orleans-nonprofit that offers classes and after school programs to local children and teenagers. Vella's full-time position will be responsible for duties formerly filled by two part-time employees, and this expanded role was developed in response to the organization’s growing audience and educational ventures in the New Orleans community.
Vella has taught at institutions including Penland School of Craft in North Carolina, Ohio State University, Emporia State University, The Glass Furnace in Turkey, and Bild-Werk Glass School in Frauenau, Germany. He has also run the blown and production glass line for Studio Inferno in New Orleans and been on the staff at Pilchuck in Washington. His artwork is included in various collections, including the Frauenau Glass Museum and The Knoxville Museum of Art. At his former studio, Vella Vetro, Vella taught workshops for students of all ages, from homeschooled elementary and high school students to adults.
At YAYA, Vella has been teaching workshops for 15 years, but only became an official part of their team when he took on the role of Glass Studio Manager. In this new role, Vella will manage all aspects of the organization’s hot shop, including public access, organizing workshops, student curricula and teaching classes along with two other teachers, all while producing his own personal work out of YAYA’s studio.
Charity Poskitt, the glass and ceramics programs manager at YAYA, has worked with Vella for the duration of his time there and is confident not only in his skills as an artist and educator, but in his ability to foster a love of art in young people. “He’s going to continue to grow and engage everyone that walks in the door, from little kids, to [adults]” she told the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet in a telephone interview. “I’m excited to have someone who cares so much about a safe, supportive, fun, engaging environment for young people, because that’s why we’re here.”
Speaking with GLASS via telephone, Vella said that he plans reinvent the curriculum and “tighten things up,” and to include younger students in the same kind of training and glass-blowing experience that any other student would receive. “I want them to get to the point where they’re not just not making what they can, but what they want” he said. He believes that this sort of real-world art education is what makes a difference in a young artist’s development, including his own. “I look back to my own personal life, and if I could start blowing glass at a young age, I can’t fathom how much further along I would be” he said.
The change comes just ahead of the organization’s seventh annual Brass N’ Glass event on May 19, where Vella will be leading demonstrations and selling his goblets. The event presents student and professional work as the culmination of a six-day class with acclaimed artist Giles Bettison, as well as glass blowing demos and live performance by the Panorama Brass Band in a celebration of New Orleans’ unique creative culture.
IF YOU GO:Brass N' Glass May 19 6-9 PM. YAYA Arts Center
3322 LaSalle St.
New Orleans, Louisiana Tel: 504 529 3306 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org