Rather than the tidy presentation of a gallery event, my preferred place to get to know an artist is his or her workspace. Seeing work tables and tools, palettes, brushes, reference materials, and particularly work in process can provide further insight into an artist’s perspective. That’s how I ended up in Sean Hennessey’s basement a few days ago.
Sean is yet another of my talented neighbors in the Bloomingdale community in NW DC. He and his wife, Rania Hassan, also an artist, live across the alley from me in a Victorian rowhome. I knew generally on the block where Sean and Rania’s house is located, and was able to easily identify it by the sculptures and interesting objects in the front yard.
With a background in sculpture and design for theatre, Sean has a wide range of skills. His work includes sculptures cast in a variety of materials from glass and concrete to plaster and bronze, as well as decorative painting and faux finishing for interiors. He sells smaller works through etsy.com and at local arts festivals, and has accepted commissions recently for larger pieces.
Sean is currently working on a cast of someone’s hands. At the moment, they present as objects immersed in a goopy brown substance within a plaster outer mold. He explains a bit of this process on one of his blogs at www.wheresmycoffee.com. Continues after the jump.
The glass works are done at The Washington Glass School, where Sean also teaches classes. They involve casting and molding of familiar objects, such as light bulbs and doors. While the glass has a luminous quality, Sean combines rougher opaque textures which create depth and pattern. The resulting artwork reflects the high touch process of making and the seemingly simple images come together to exude an existential quality.
In addition to sculpture, Sean’s background in scenic painting led him to do professional training in decorative painting and faux finishing. His portfolio includes a variety of textures, techniques, and interesting color palettes. Some impressive examples can be seen here: http://www.scenicartisans.com/finishes.php. I’ve been in finished rooms that Sean has painted and admire the elegant details and craftsmanship.