Photo Credit:  Minhi England

Palm Beacher, BRI CHESLER, blows it up with her organic, scintillating glass sculptures that explore the beauty and grit of growing up in Palm Beach

Bri Chesler, 31, is sitting in her Seattle, Washington art studio, virtually painting a picture for us on how she found her voice through the translucency of glass. A product of BAK MSOA and Dreyfoos High School of the Arts, two of Palm Beach County’s top-performing public middle school and high school, the former alum always knew her calling was a visual one. While initially focused on metal-working in college, when a professor introduced Chesler to glass– the spark was lit.

Today, she is an emerging force in the art world, known for her bold, three-dimensional design and sculptural installations. Her works have been displayed at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington state and the Habatat Gallery in Michigan. She was selected as a Pilchuck artist-in-residence, has won a Chihuly Gardens and Glass Anniversary Scholarship and last year became a Hauberg Fellow. During her Pilchuck Glass School residency in 2019, Chesler was spotted by well-known Canadian glass artist Laura Donefer. “You never know where something will lead, who will find you or discover your work,” says Chesler. “Laura has turned out to be an invaluable mentor.”

Though she now lives opposite from where she grew up, Chesler credits her Palm Beach upbringing as a major inspiration. “Florida set up the foundation for my conceptual ideas. The landscape informed the forms and the cultural environment brought out the themes of superficial beauty, intimacy, and empathy,” says Chelser. “My art is a maximalist expression of beauty and desire.” Highly desirable work for the collector searching of the next big talent.

INSTAGRAM: @brichesler


Q: How did the rigorous art and academic programs at Bak and Dreyfoos set you up for professional success?

A: Both of them were integral for me being here today. Art allowed me to have an outlet to work out the struggles wading through the teenage years. The teachers and student body gave me a safe community. In my career, I came in with a head start because of the strong art education I received as a kid. Thanks to these programs I was comfortable pushing myself in the studio and I was comfortable stepping outside of myself and critiquing my work.

Bri Chesler

Q: Your glass sculptures are so beautiful and organic. In what way has Palm Beach county informed your work?

A: Palm Beach has an obsession with beauty that can be superficial, where beauty is focused on the body–which is not a bad thing, but then Palm Beach also has this other side that is natural, wild and swampy. I try to find the similarities between these two juxtaposing worlds. I draw from forms found in botany and biology. I try to make sculptures that almost flirt with the audience, that are cheeky–but also have a serious and intimate side

Q: Why glass? And how do you move this art form in new directions.

A: Glass is sensual and intimate. It is transparent, you can use layers of glass to create color and pattern. Not being traditionally trained, I didn’t have the weight of a foundational education in glass blowing, so I am able to really push the limits of this art form. For example, I combine mixed media and I use scrap glass material from a glass production house: repurposing and reforming it. My work is expressive and experimental. I like to play with material relationships, which is where mixed media comes into play. I use other materials to mimic or contradict certain qualities in glass, oftentimes leading the viewer to wonder what’s glass and what isn’t.

Q: When you are not in the line of fire, how do you relax?

When I’m not in the hot shop blowing glass, I’m in my other studio. This aspect of making is more focused on assembly and detailing, it’s actually where the majority of my time is spent working on my sculptures.- Glass blowing is rather instantaneous, typically you have to finish the piece in one session. Detailing my work becomes meditative. I fixate on this process, it becomes excessive and that’s become such an important part of my aesthetic. Otherwise if I’m truly trying to relax, I’m outside lost in nature. When I lived in Florida I would go kayaking everyday out in the swampy waters. In Washington I’m out in the forests and mountains. These environments provide me the inspiration and space to be quiet and wander through ideas.