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Artists on the cutting edge

Couple concentrates on getting their creativity out there

Couple concentrates on getting their creativity out there

August 18, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

Meet Jody and Carl Wright, as versatile artistically as a Swiss Army Knife in a Boy Scout's hands.

He sculpts, she paints. She designs patterns on the computer, he crafts frames.

Together, the Martinsburg, W.Va., couple craft stained glass masterpieces filtering sunlight through a kaleidoscope of color.

"Our work is something that will last a lifetime, so you want your best up there," Jody Wright says. "One hundred years from now, my name's still on it so I want it just right."

In Martinsburg since 1987, the Wrights' work permeates through their Winchester Avenue home/studio. There's the mural of Rome in a bathroom, a stained glass window in a kitchen door, and his-and-her created pillars in separate first floor rooms that reflect each of their personalities. Hers is more restrained and classical, his more active with lighting and inset shelves.

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Among their current projects is a circular stained glass piece for Musselman High School in Bunker Hill, W.Va. A gift from the Class of 2002, it depicts an apple tree with blossoms and mature apples on the ground below. In the background, a path winds off into the distance.

The path is reflective of the road less traveled, the idea taken from the well-known Robert Frost poem; the apples represent graduates and the blossoms students still growing at the school.

Even if the casual observer only sees the finished piece as an attractive piece of art, Carl Wright says he and Jody have fulfilled their mission.

"No matter what, first of all it's supposed to be beautiful composition," he says. "If they pick up on the symbolism that means it's a deeper and richer piece."

The Wrights came to art from indirect paths. Carl had worked as a defense contractor purchasing agent; his wife in the graphics industry.

Admittedly, they were not the ones in high school who would have been pegged as future artists, but a desire to create and follow their passion led them to art.

"We wanted a little more zest in life," Jody Wright says of ditching the nine-to-five grind to make what can be a volatile living in the art world. "You have to be a little bit crazy to throw it all away to be an artist where everything is always in flux."

But the name of their game is versatility, an evolutionary process where they are trying to strike a balance between their many interests. Their latest foray has been into publishing, with Jody creating stained glass pattern books in part because she was frustrated with books that had one or two interesting designs but nothing more.

Already this year, she has churned out five books, plus another with profiles of various artist.

The ambitious adventure in publishing will likely be scaled back in the future to two volumes per year, but it is an important venture for the couple.

"We think," Carl Wright says, "when you have 20 designs in a book, it's more useful to use 18 to 19 designs out of 20 rather than 1 to 2 designs."

Jody draws all patterns by hand, using the computer to finalize designs for the books. On other jobs such as the Musselman piece or a recent 4-by-6 window at a school in Alexandria, the couple spend a significant amount of time consulting with the client, sketching ideas and consulting again before setting the finished product in glass.

When not busy on the glass, Jody paints, while Carl spends every available moment in his garage/sculpture studio. Many of their pieces reflect their diverse talents - pieces of furniture with sculptures affixed to them, or the dueling pillars with stained glass set into the sides.

Carl Wright likens their plans to a four-legged stool; each of the couple's artistic outlets add up to a stable, steady whole.

"We're more about art than publishing," he says. "It's important, but it's one part of expressing creativity. And having creativity and getting it out there is what it's all about."

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