Stephanie Cochran does not fit the description of a typical college student. As a glass major in the Department of Art+Design at Anderson University, Cochran is a wife and mother of grown children and her classroom is a studio equipped with furnaces. Recently, she placed fourth in the "Best of Indiana Glass" exhibit in Indianapolis.
"Best of Indiana Glass" is an annual juried exhibition hosted by Gallery 924 in Indianapolis. The exhibition was sponsored by the Indiana Glass Arts Alliance and featured a diverse selection of glass works, ranging from traditional vessel forms to contemporary sculpture. [Photo on left: Cochran and fellow art majors (Maggie Durbin and Kenton Pratt) with her piece, Untitled.]
Over the summer, Cochran interned with local glass artist Ben Johnson, who encouraged her to enter the show. Her two pieces Anticipation … They Could Have Been Gray and Untitled were accepted, and Untitled, a piece made of cast glass, won fourth place. For Cochran, the experience was one of surprise and excitement.
The piece Untitled is a “sort of self-portrait,” Cochran explains. Cochran says her piece stems out of her natural perspective as a woman who has had to fill many different roles, although not all of them fit very comfortably. She’s proud to have won an award for the piece, but having the opportunity to see how others were engaged by it is even more meaningful to her. At the opening reception she discovered that people of all ages were able to find their own stories in her work. “It hit a lot of women,” she says. “It was exciting to have conversations with them.”
Anticipation, Cochran’s second piece in the show, is a blown glasswork. The idea came while searching through photos of underwater sea creatures. It was an experience of “unexpected beauty at a dark time.” She sees Anticipation as a beginning link to her current work, which relates to themes of both the beauty and manipulation of nature. Cochran enjoys working with living things. “When something dies, the light leaves it. Glass captures that moment of life. I like to work with how glass vibrates that light.” [Photo on right: Anticipation ... They Could Have Been Gray, 2011]
Cochran chooses to work in glass because of the community that comes from working with fellow glass artists. She explains that in glass, “You can’t do it yourself. You have to form relationships and be interdependent.” She adds that she has found herself challenged as a person as well as an artist, learning to accommodate others who are working with her and sharing the same space. These relationships have become a source of energy for Cochran — and as she sees it, the enthusiasm is contagious.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.