Sunset in Ixtapa, Glenna Tissenbaum.
By Sufia Duez
After working many years in the legal field, Glenna Tissenbaum took an early retirement and made a life-changing decision. Despite having minimal training and practice in the arts, Tissenbaum embarked on a new adventure that would plunge her into a world of infinite colours, textures, and potential. Overwhelmed by a desire to explore and make art, she acquired books, purchased artist-quality supplies and commenced her schooling in painting and mixed-media techniques.
That was 6 years ago, this is now: Glenna Tissenbaum is a working artist with an impressive collection of abstract paintings and mixed-media pieces that demonstrate an array of skills. The variety of styles that Tissenbaum employs is a reflection of her active curiosity and ambition. Her particular attention to colour and texture is obvious. On discussing colour, she says, “Colour has always been a driving force in my life. There are those who are most comfortable wearing black (maybe grey). I’m most comfortable in red.”
Tissenbaum’s work Quickening is particularly rich in colour and texture. Similar to her other works, Quickening instills a desire to touch every nook and cranny – as if only by touch can one truly “see”. Tissenbaum states, “I hope that when people view my work, the textures at play encourage them to really ‘touch’ the canvas with their eyes. I wish to instill a sense of curiosity as to how the particular texture was achieved.”
Mardi Gras Madness, Glenna Tissenbaum.
“Quickening” is a term used to describe the first time a pregnant woman feels fetal movements. On describing this work, Tissenbaum states: “…When I finished the piece, I saw many elements of that life force. An egg waiting to drop, shapes swimming to fertilize an egg, a mushroom representing fertility, and a rising sun in the top left corner. None of this was planned, it simply came into being – as life itself does!”
In contrast to Quickening — which is a positive feast for the eyes, Meeting at the Riverbed is more minimal in appearance at first glance. While the colours used in this piece may be described as “greyish and/or off-white” at most, there are textures at play. In this work, Tissenbaum experiments with Crackle Paste, which gives the illusion of cracked Earth next to a bed of sand, made with various acrylic gels.
Meeting at the Riverbed by Glenna Tissenbaum
But as previously mentioned, Glenna Tissenbaum also favours the expression of mixed media. Her first creative exercise was a mixed-media project entitled: Gall-Liver’s Travails, inspired by the classic Jonathan Swift novel, Gulliver’s Travels. An antique “medical” G.I. Joe-type doll (the giant) lies at the centre of the piece with an assortment of toy soldiers and other small figurines subduing the strange giant. The work is mounted on a turntable to accentuate a world spinning out of order, and to provide viewers with different perspectives.
What’s clear: Glenna Tissenbaum is a dynamic artist whose work will surprise you, just as it sometimes surprises her. She describes the art-making experience similar to being in a trance, a “fugue state.” Only after taking a step back does the art ‘reveal itself.’ She relies on her intuition to tell her when a project is complete. Her parting advice to emerging artists: “Trust your instincts, Love what you do. Don’t allow others to define you. Persist, persist, persist. Don’t be afraid to fail, but learn from it. Never stop dreaming.”
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A new photo or video will become available everyday from August 21 – August 27, 2018