April 1st, 2013

Beauty, Brokenness in Art and the City

by Emily Vanest


Shannon Hinkle’s new glass work, a collection of small, single color, blown-glass sculptures made in the Pantone “Colors of the Year,” is part of the Harrison Center’s upcoming First Friday show, Spectrum.  Like most of my friends, I have an assortment of Shannon Hinkle earrings and bracelets, collected over the birthdays, Mother’s Days, Valentines Days and “Mama needs to buy herself a treat” days of the past several years.  In the midst of an ugly, gray week, it has been comforting to peek into Shannon’s studio and see her creating something fun, something so beautifully drenched with color.

As Shannon was experimenting with a new type of clear glass for this show, she accidentally created diminutive little clear vessels which have become my favorite pieces.  They make adorable tiny terrariums . . . but then, Shannon began to use them to showcase miniscule collages of her broken beads. “The nature of glass is that it breaks . . . sometimes from the elements, sometimes it’s just the type of glass.”  Shannon lost half the beads she created in preparation for this show.  “I wanted to do something with my disappointment,” she said, “ to redeem the broken bits by giving them a place of importance.”


Moving into an urban neighborhood is a lot like creating a work of art.  There is a lot of beauty, and there are some broken bits.  What would it look like to make something beautiful out of the broken pieces?  Shannon and her husband Lee moved into the Kennedy King neighborhood three years ago.  This area of the city has seen it’s share of decline, but revitalization is in full swing here.  The neighborhoods of King Park, but especially the Kennedy King neighborhood, have seen great successes with the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.  The area known as the Smart Growth District has now been federally designated as one of five federal pilots and as the State’s Rebuilding Neighborhoods pilot project.  The Hinkles wanted to be part of the grassroots, neighbor-level redemption of King Park.

Shannon and Lee have always been drawn to the brokenness of the city (the people, the construction, the houses in disrepair), but they also see the city as an incredibly beautiful place with lots of different people and cultures — a veritable “spectrum.”  “We chose that intentionally, “ Shannon says.  “We wanted diversity.”   They’ve welcomed many colorful people to their neighborhood, from rockabilly musicians to web design stars.  Neighbors find community around their big farmhouse dining table at their neighborhood supper club. Friends meet every year to pick the pears and cherries from their prolific side yard orchard.  Their kids walk and skateboard to their neighborhood schools.  And Shannon lights her torch, blows glass, melds the colors, and creates beautiful glass beads, making art in many, many ways in this corner of the city.