Featured Glass Artist: Victoria Belz

Victoria Belz started doing a lot of painting, sculpture and metalwork in high school. She was accepted into a university in New York but wasn’t able to enroll. Instead she got a job and started climbing the corporate ladder for about 15 years. She had kids, stayed home and started dabbling a bit in the arts she had loved back in high school. As folks began to ask her to make them things, her skills grew until she came across a beadmaking class. Victoria fell in love with glass from that moment.

As her skills developed, Victoria often found herself teaching others in classes and doing larger, more sculptural and freestanding work. She began working in softer glass and, more recently, Victoria’s been playing around with borosilicate glass. She like making small bits of glass art and then joining them to make increasingly more complicated and intricate sculptural pieces. The commitment needed to make something over and over again makes the piece riskier, because there’s more to lose if something goes wrong. This makes the piece all the more rewarding when it’s done. She’s been using a lot of clear glass in her more recent work, playing with light and shadow as it flows through the art.

Artists often have to be both creators and marketers. Managing these dual roles has been both exciting and challenging for Victoria as her art has grown. She has more latitude over who her audience is but, sometimes, it can get difficult to reach new people who are interested in her passions. She’s always felt like she’d rather just be in the studio making art than having to stress about running a business. But as she tells her kids “You have to do what you have to do, to do what you want to do.”

Victoria’s Inspiration

As her sculptural work develops, Victoria has begun to see new layers of social and oft-times political meaning appearing in her work. She worries about her role as a female artist and the space in which she is creating her art. She involves her daughters in her art as much as possible, to show them the value of creating, of art, and of doing what you love.

Nature plays a role in her art, if only because it surrounds her. She sees natural, living things, everywhere she goes and constantly experiences things she wants to recreate. She loves the fluidity of natural environments, though the glass doesn’t always shape into the image in her head. Glass doesn’t bend to your will, she believes. She calls it “an angry toddler”. It does what it’s going to do and you just have to work within those limits. This can be one of her greatest challenges, making the ideas in her head fit her skillset. More than once, Victoria has found herself deep into a project, pushing the envelope of her skills late into the night, only to have to concede that her vision exceeds her current skill. And that’s okay. Stretching beyond what you think you can do is how you grow.

Sharing Her Talent

Victoria has found joy in teaching glass art to those that want to learn. It’s been interesting to have to adapt her teaching for people who have disabilities or are physically impaired. She spoke of a student who showed up to one of her classes with an arm in a cast. The student, a girl in high school, had injured herself just a few days prior to the class and seemed defeated. She remembers the girl saying that there was no way she would be able to do the class. “Well, let’s see what we can do,” Victoria said. She walked the student through the process of glassworking, acting as her left hand and encouraging her every step of the way. They jointly created a very beautiful piece that lifted the girl’s spirits tremendously. Wonderful experiences like that motivate her and are part of the reason she enjoys teaching.

Victoria opens her studio to the public at Water Street Studios in Batavia, Illinois for the Second Friday arts events (which occur the second Friday of every month, handily enough). Water Street will have a resident show this coming Second Friday in January and Victoria’s art will be on display among other resident artists.