By Amy Bareham
ASC Cultural and Community Investment Intern
The starving artist stereotype has clung to creative thinkers for years, but Community Supported Art (CSA) participant and local Charlotte artist Carmella Jarvi doesn’t have time to starve.
Deeply enthusiastic about the Charlotte art scene, Jarvi is redefining what it means to be an artist, with her glasswork, prior teaching experience and role as curator of the Packard Place gallery serving as externalizations of the arts advocate within.
But where did it all begin? With water – specifically Finnish water. Survey a map of Finland (or even a Finnish directory) and the word ‘jarvi’ will consistently appear. It means ‘beautiful lake’ in Finnish, so fate clearly intended Carmella to fall in love with water. Growing up by the Lake Norman waves, Jarvi spent ample time submerged, explaining, “I never learned how to swim. I was just always in water.” She also says she was born with a pencil; art was her thing from day one. Jarvi took private art lessons at Spirit Square starting around age 8, then went on to pursue degrees in Creative Arts and Philosophy from UNC-Charlotte.
Her “Women in Water” series was the initial marriage of water infatuation and artistic talent. Of her painting experience, Jarvi says: “I have been a painter of water for decades.” But then she found her way to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and everything changed. “I came back and was like I can’t paint…paints are so ugly and bland and plain.”
Thus Carmella the glassworker evolved. Prior to her involvement with the Arts & Science Council’s CSA program, she was a recipient of a Regional Artist Project Grant. That support enabled her to book 20 sessions with Rose Hawley, the owner of the working studio Art in the Dairy. Jarvi’s current installations and continuing projects are a direct result of those sessions.
“They enabled me to have intensive regular instruction,” she said. “Before it was kind of piecemeal.”
Warm glass work is different to our typical conception of glassblowing because the glass is kiln fused. This allows it be manipulated and melted down over and over again. The glass hasn’t lost its trademark water feel because the vibrant colors of Play del Carmen’s surf are captured in the final product’s color palette.
Now Jarvi divides her time between Art in the Dairy and her studio at home. The latter isn’t ideal for the major glass installations she hopes to complete in future, but that hasn’t stopped her from dreaming. Her plan for the future is two-fold. Immediate goals include creating permanent public art works with glass. However, in Jarvi’s words, her ongoing cause is to: “…help artists get paid a living wage. That’s my mission…I want to help non-art people understand the real value of art and why it should be funded.”
When asked what she’s most excited for in regards to the Charlotte art scene, Jarvi answered, “I’m excited about new approaches to creation, collaboration, and funding, and that includes new partnerships.”
She knows the economic strains of her career path but maintains entrepreneurs set themselves apart by viewing failure or setback as opportunity. She hopes to creatively partner with Charlotte movers and shakers in such a way that garners acclaim for the art itself. CSA’s support gives her the budget and time to do so.
Buy Your Share!
Shares for the spring season of ASC’s Community Supported Art program go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at ArtsandScience.org. Shares are $500 each and limited to the first 50 buyers. For more information, click here.