Richard Jolley is involved in many kinds of subject matter yet he holds fast to certain visual ideas. The human silhouette, the sphere, the column, the male/female aspects of identity, the symbolism of birds (also close to the Surrealists), the mythology of Atlas, the repose of sleep, the subtle ingredients of thought in relation to metaphysical time and space. These are but some of the visual traces that occupy the lexicon of Richard Jolley's art. Given the recurrence of these signs in his works, Jolley's tendency is to move in the direction of Surrealist ambiguity – to escape from everyday time into the dream. Through Richard Jolley's focus and concentration, comes the message that art is not limited by its medium but is open to a continuous exploration of new possibilities for what can be meaningful to the human eye.
— from Richard Jolley: Sculptor of Glass
Richard Jolley was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1952 and then moved in his youth to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 1970, the artist began his studies at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee, studying glass under Michael Taylor. Taylor was then invited to create his next program at George Peabody College in Nashville (now a part of Vanderbilt University) where Jolley later completed his B.F.A. In the fall of that year, Jolley further polished his technique at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina under the instruction of Richard Ritter. Jolley continues this teaching tradition by frequently returning to Penland and through unique programs designed to involve at-risk students in the Knoxville community with professional working artists.
Since 1973, the artist's work has been extensively collected both privately and by public institutions. Found in over 33 public collections, notable establishments including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Corning Museum of Glass, Knoxville Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, and the Frederick Weisman Art Foundation in Los Angeles.
Richard Jolley has received several private and public commissions including Absolut Statehood: Tennessee, a 1993 national ad campaign for Absolut Vodka followed by the creation of a custom martini glass for Bombay Sapphire Gin international ad campaign. Current prominent sculpture commissions include Everything and the Cosmos (2007) installed in the Seven World Trade Center, New York City and the largest glass installation at the Knoxville Museum of Art, completed in 2013.
V I D E O . WATCH THE SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM OF RICHARD JOLLEY'S EPIC GLASS AND STEEL INSTALLATION, CYCLE OF LIFE, AT THE KNOXVILLE MUSEUM OF ART.
ARTIST STATEMENT: ANTIQUITY OF NATURE SERIES
In the Antiquity of Nature series, I am addressing the enduringqualities of nature and the ability it has to persist, and even thrive, despite human intervention. Nature is a collision of opposites that simultaneously embodies incredible beauty and profound harshness. This is similar to what is seen after the scavo treatment of the new works. The chemicals used attack the glass aggressively, harshly and literally eat away the surface of the glass only to reveal a beautiful yet changed surface or environment. Where the excitement lies for me in this body of work is living in that moment of possibility and what can happen. The endless generosity of nature constantly reinventing, renewing and providing more is a wonder and deserves respect.
— RICHARD JOLLEY
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RICHARD JOLLEY: LARGER THAN LIFEThe Knoxville Museum of Art12 May 2015
Richard Jolley's sweeping glass installation, Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity, is one of the largest figurative glass-and-steel assemblages in the world. Commissioned in 2009 especially for the Knoxville Museum of Art, Cycle of Life is a seven-part narrative that took the artist and his team of studio assistants more than five years to create. It reveals Jolley's exceptional artistic rigor and vision—an aesthetically stunning masterwork that is also an engineering marvel. . .