Playing Favorites: Jennifer Vaughan and Martin Blank

We’ve asked FWMoA staff the hardest question you can ask art museum people: so, what is your favorite artwork currently on display? As “art museum people”, we often get asked about our favorite artists, artworks, and the art we choose to hang on our own walls. Since not all of our staff are front-end, and not all of them write for the blog, this series gives everyone a chance to get to know them, too. Taking advantage of our rotating exhibitions of artworks, from painted portraits to sculpted bronzes, FWMoA staff from all departments are choosing artworks that enthrall and enchant them; or, in other words, playing favorites.

Jennifer Vaughan, FWMoA Volunteer Docents Youth & Family Tours. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

Jennifer Vaughan has volunteered her time to the Museum for five years, since October 2016. As a Youth & Family Tours docent she spends all her time in the galleries with students, engaging them in discussion about artworks big and small. Her current favorite? The large permanent glass sculpture by Martin Blank, Repose in Amber.

Martin Blank, American, b. 1962. Repose in Amber. Hot sculpted glass and steel. Gift of Joel and Nancy Barnett, 2019.1-46. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

Q: What is the first thing you noticed about this artwork? What drew you to this particular piece?

A: I was intrigued by the beautiful colors, the various shapes, and the process the artist used to create the piece.

Q: Would you hang this artwork in your home? Why or why not?

A: Yes! It brings a smile to my face. If I could put it in my home I would, but it is very large. Perhaps a miniature of the piece would be fun to show my friends and family. I could use it as a way to introduce people to the wonderful treasures at FWMoA.

Q: What does this artwork mean to you?

A: Before the piece came to the museum, Charles Shepard shared the story of the acquisition at a meeting for the docents. I was immediately intrigued. I was fortunate enough to be leading a tour of high school students through the museum on the day that the piece was being installed. Martin Blank, the artist, was present. He talked with the students about the piece and answered their questions. It was a delight to be introduced to the piece through the eyes of the artist – a rare opportunity for me. For most of the students in the tour, this was their first visit to an art museum. They were so interested in what Martin Blank shared with them.

Martin Blank shared with the docents and students that he is influenced by the beauty and colors of the Southwest. He always carries a notebook with him where he can sketch and write about ideas he has. I have shared this with some of the school tours and often a student will remark that they will follow that example. I like to imagine that learning about the artist’s process might inspire another emerging artist.

There are so many wonderful pieces at the museum to explore and admire, but this is a standout for me. I find it exciting and beautiful.

O Martin Blank, American, b. 1962. Repose in Amber. Hot sculpted glass and steel. Gift of Joel and Nancy Barnett, 2019.1-46. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with the FWMoA?

A: After retiring, I decided that I wanted to volunteer in the community where I could use my skills as a classroom teacher, but also learn some new skills and stretch my learning.

Q: What has been your favorite exhibition at FWMoA during your employment? What exhibition are you most looking forward to in the next year or two?

A: Wonderland: Photographs by Kirsty Mitchell (past exhibit) and America the Beautiful: Photographs by Clyde Butcher, currently on display.

Q: What kind of art do you have in your home?

A: We have a Lyonel Feininger print, a small glass piece by Eran Park, a glass vase by a Seattle artist, and two Audubon prints

When you visit FWMoA, be sure to check out Martin Blank’s glass sculpture permanently on display in the hallway.

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