Photos C/O Courtney Downman

Courtney Downman is a glass artist operating out of the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. Her work will be showcased at The Cotton Factory as part of the upcoming Work In Progress art exhibit. The exhibit will feature unfinished pieces from 13 artists. Downman says that much of her inspiration comes from the process of creation, which works well for an exhibit of partially finished work. 

“A lot of the time I’m inspired through the actual making process, which gives me new ideas as I’m creating,” said Downman. 

Downman’s work predominantly focuses on glass that has been carved down with a saw, meaning that the beginning of the piece looks drastically different from the end result.

“My first thought was to bring a piece that’s 60 per cent finished, because they look so different from when it starts as a complete bubble to where I cut it open and it becomes very jagged and you see the white from the saw lines, and then as I finish the last step it brings it all together. So, I was thinking of putting a piece out that’s just about halfway there to show the start to finish,” said Downman.

Glass art is experiencing a rise in popularity at the moment. This is in part thanks to the hit Netflix competition show Blown Away, where glass artists compete to create pieces that match a given theme in a short period of time. Due to the difficulty of working with glass quickly, each competitor was assigned assistants from Sheridan College. Downman was one of the assistants, and she says she’s noticed a positive impact from the show.

“I think overall the community was really happy with the way that it brought exposure; [for] a lot of local studios the show has generated searches for handmade glass. People have been reaching out in local ways, which is kind of neat,” said Downman. “It was really neat as well to work behind the scenes without actually having to compete in the contest.” While glass art has always been popular, having a Netflix show has given it a wider platform than ever before.

The Work In Progress exhibit is being held at The Cotton Factory, a place dedicated to creating a sense of community amongst artists. Downman says that this community is why participating in art exhibits is one of her favourite parts of being an artist.

“We spend so long working quietly, usually alone in our own studio, so it’s rare that we get a chance to show what we do in a way where we also get to socialize with other people that are like-minded. I love meeting the other artists at the shows because I find there’s always common ground to start with. I’ve had a lot of really cool friendships blossom out of doing different shows,” said Downman.

With 13 artists who are all specialized in different art mediums, there is sure to be something that interests you, whether that be glass, leather, paint or something else entirely. Artists will be standing by their work, so if you have any questions about their process, you can ask them right on the spot. If you find art that you love, they will also have completed works available for sale that you can take home with you.

Work In Progress will take place on Sunday Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Cotton Factory (270 Sherman Ave. N.). Admission is free.


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