Twenty-four years ago, I married Kimberly Erickson in Dallas, Texas. Coming from a family where her father and grandfather are both successful artists, I knew she was artistic. Still, the breadth of her artistic range never ceases to amaze me. She really has done it all in the past two decades: illustrations, water gilding, and, most recently, fused glass creations of vivid color and light. It’s her glasswork, though, that has really struck me the most.
I’m excited to share the following interview of my wife about her life, her art, and our family.
How did you make the transition from book illustrations to glass art?
Well, I’ve always loved to collect glass, so, when the opportunity came, I jumped in with both feet. As a newer Catholic, I had been looking for a holy water font to put on my wall, but I couldn’t find anything I liked. One day, I decided to try designing one myself. I drove to a shop that lets customers play around with glass and design your own creations. I was excited to finally work with glass, but my first two attempts were failures.
Soon, though, I was able to learn from my mistakes and try new approaches and techniques until I created a holy water font that I was truly excited about showing. When people saw it, they loved it, and the orders started coming in!
What drives or influences you to create your art?
I have to do it. Something inside me seems to be missing unless it comes out in some form. I truly feel like God gave me this talent, and everything I am able to do is because of this grace.
We joined the Catholic Church in 2005 from a Protestant background. How has this enriched your artwork?
It’s funny, but I haven’t thought of this before. Coming from a Free Methodist background, it’s really like I have been a given a new freedom. Free Methodists don’t believe in having statues or much artwork in their churches out of a fear that it could tempt people to worship the created over the Creator. Catholicism, on the other hand, thinks of art like a teacher who reminds and inspires us of God. As an artist, this makes more sense to me.
Since becoming Catholic, you could say that my art has bloomed. It began with me illustrating my husband’s two books for children (Toupee Mice and Tristan’s Travels), then I was asked to water gild a fifteen-foot reredos (frame) for Saint Peter’s Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. This project took a couple of years to complete, and it took every ounce of skill I had to accomplish it by myself. This felt like something I really did for God. There is something satisfying for a Christian artist when they are able to give what God gave them back to Him. It’s like a song praising God.
Your father, John Collier, is a great artist and sculptor, and he’s done many religious pieces around the country—and beyond. What lessons have you really learned from him?
I’ve learned an amazing amount from my father. It’s like having an amazing art teacher always available to answer your questions and tell you what you need to work on. It’s helped me make my art so much better. Most artists don’t like their art critiqued, but when you’re learning from someone as kind as my dad, the medicine goes down very easily. Art is something you learn by constantly doing.
What kind of symbolism do you use, and why do you use it?
Symbolism really takes a lot of study. As a new Catholic, I feel I am just beginning to learn this, so I use simple symbols usually: crosses, doves, or blue hues for the color of Mary. An artist is always learning, and I am definitely still a student.
What brings you the greatest joy as an artist?
When something turns out just like I imagined it. This is especially true with glass, since you never know until the last kilning.
How is it different to create in glass than upon a canvas?
For me, it’s being pushed into impressionism. I love impressionist work, but I am a bit of a perfectionist when asked to draw. Glass pieces are usually larger than a dot or a line on paper, and working with glass forces you to bring out colors or feelings more than that single line on an image. It’s more like a mosaic that plays with colors and conveys feelings.
Do you feel the leading of God’s hand with regards to your art?
I do truly feel that God has helped me bring out my art. When I started trying to put together a studio for glass art, I was overwhelmed by how quickly it came together. Within a couple weeks, I had a kiln, glass supplies, tools, and a workspace all ready to go. I felt like God was really taking care of me.
Besides holy water fonts, what other types of glass creations do you create?
I’ve also been creating bowls and plates, but it’s really up to what I feel like doing at the time. I’ve been playing around with some Christmas designs, but…we’ll just have to see what happens.
Where can people go to see more of your work?
I invite everyone to visit my online portfolio, and my paintings and glasswork are also on display at the Red Raven Gallery in Salem, Oregon.