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"It seems as though you wake from a dream one day to realize that you have been involved in a journey with a material and process for over half your life and still there is so much more to discover, uncover, and be covered-up by. One of the joys I have with this expressive material, glass, is that you are making something from nothing.
As with many artists of the 60’s and 70’s, I sought out non-traditional materials and encountered glass which became my primary medium. The many dualities of nature and materials interest me and I express this concern in my work by employing a figurative/narrative mode to document our times and environment. There is a classical/modern link in my work just as a glass is a modern material with an ancient history."
Richard Jolley was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1952 and then moved in his youth to Oak Ridge,
Tennessee. In 1970, the artist began his studies at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee,
studying glass under Michael Taylor. Taylor was then invited to create his next program at
George Peabody College in Nashville (now a part of Vanderbilt University) where Jolley later
completed his B.F.A. In the fall of that year, Jolley further polished his technique at Penland
School of Crafts in North Carolina under the instruction of Richard Ritter. Jolley continues this
teaching tradition by frequently returning to Penland and through unique programs designed
to involve at-risk students in the Knoxville community with professional working artists.
Building and maintaining a glass studio in Knoxville since 1975, Richard Jolley has participated
in over 65 solo museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the country as well as Europe and
Japan. Early in his career, Jolley had been included in some of the most important glass
exhibitions at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporro, Japan, and the International
Exhibition Glass in Kanazawa, Japan, as well as Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey and
Laumier Sculpture Park in Missouri. Over the next decade the artist continued to be included
in important museum exhibitions surveying contemporary glass and sculpture such as the
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Renwick Gallery of the
Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Carnegie Museum of Art and most recently in the
Wornick Collection exhibited at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston. After numerous solo
exhibitions Mark R. Leach of the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, organized
the first cohesive exhibition of Jolley’s mature glass sculpture works in 1997. Then in 2002
Richard Guber, then Director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and Stephen Wicks,
Curator of the Knoxville Museum of Art, organized the artist’s first major retrospective
exhibition that traveled to 14 museums in the US over five years. Richard Jolley’s
extensive body of work along with the glass work of Tommie Rush, his wife, will be
re-examined by the Mobile Museum of Art in April of 2011.
Since 1973, the artists’ work has been extensively collected both privately and by
public institutions. Found in over 33 public collections, notable establishments
including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Corning Museum of Glass, Knoxville
Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC,
and the Frederick Weisman Art Foundation in Los Angeles.
Richard Jolley has additionally been honored for his art through a variety of awards,
commissions, and invitational workshops in Tennessee and abroad. In 2007 Jolley was
the youngest visual artist to ever receive the Tennessee “Governor’s Distinguished Artist
Award” and acknowledged with the 2010 “Individual for Outstanding Accomplishment in
the Field” by the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass. In 1998, the Tennessee Arts
Commission selected the artist to participate in a Tennessee/ Israeli Cultural Artist Exchange,
and in 2009 started exhibiting his work at the Litvak Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel. Then in 2011
the artist was invited to complete a new series of art at the Berengo Studio, Murano, Italy, and
will exhibit the work at Venice Project, Venice, Italy, in May of 2011.
Richard Jolley has received several private and public commissions including
“Absolut Statehood: Tennessee” 1993 national ad campaign for Absolut Vodka followed
by the creation of a custom martini glass for Bombay Sapphire Gin international ad campaign.
Current prominent sculpture commissions include “Everything and the Cosmos” (2007)
installed in the Seven World Trade Center, New York City and the forthcoming largest glass
installation at the Knoxville Museum of Art to be completed in 2013.