Although the Bainbridge Island Public Art Committee’s Something New program is just in its third year, one artist duo has already won the competition twice.
The team of metal sculptor Milo White and glass artist Lin McJunkin recently won the Something New competition with their creation of Fossil II, which was displayed on Winslow Way near Town & Country Market. They also won the inaugural competition in 2018 for their Iris Flare sculpture.
The artifact has since been removed and was sold to a private party after a ceremony last week for the competition winners. The art team was recognized by members of Arts & Humanities Bainbridge and received a $1,000 check and a letter of accolade from the city of Bainbridge Island.
“We’ve been collaborating for about ten years now,” McJunkin said at the ceremony. “We both have our own practices but we also work together. We’re thrilled Bainbridge has kind of adopted us.”
Regarding the next Something New competition, the dominant duo hopes to enter again to see if they can add to their list of accolades and take a firm grasp on this newly introduced art contest.
“Bainbridge has been incredibly supportive of our work, and we’d love to continue our relationship with them,” McJunkin said. “But it depends on our schedule and if we can take time from our commissioned work to create work ‘on spec’ for loans to city programs like this one.”
McJunkin said she focuses her artwork on current environmental and social issues, which fits the bill for Fossil II.
“The hexagonal shapes and wavy strands reference bees and their hives,” she said. “We are concerned about Colony Collapse Syndrome experienced worldwide by beekeepers, caused in part by pesticide use and our warming climate. It is our sincere hope that we learn to control these problems before our invaluable food pollinators become ‘fossils’ themselves.”
For every project that the metal and glass duo pursue, McJunkin said it follows a similar pattern.
“One of us gets an idea and sketches it out, then brings it to the other one for comment and refinement,” she said. “For Fossil II, Milo was interested in the hexagonal shapes and putting them into two wavy strands. He does most of the design work on the computer and forwards those files to his plasma cutter to cut the steel. He then rolls it and has it powder-coated to protect the steel. His computer patterns are also used to cut patterns from ceramic fiberboard in which (I) kiln cast the thick, colorful glass sections. (I) use an elastomeric silicone product to cold-fuse the glass into the metal ‘cells.’ ”
Artist duo background
White is a metal sculptor from Sedro-Woolley with nearly three decades of experience in industrial and art welding. Using a computer, CNC plasma cutter, and welding equipment, White experiments with the interaction of light on layered metal shapes, according to his bio on bainbridgecurrents.com. In collaboration with McJunkin, he adds highly colored and textured glass shapes to the metal frameworks, creating a new hybrid art form.
“Out of the many visual arts, sculpture seems to allow me the most freedom to express myself as an artist and as an individual,” White’s artist statement reads. “Metal sculpture in particular has captivated my imagination- it also satiates a quality of my nature having to do with my own impatience. Mild and Stainless steels are the predominant materials I work with, but more exotic materials are in my future. Ranging from small interior sculpture to large municipal installations, my work has many feels to it, but throughout, my sense of balance, proportion and the use of negative space and light are prevalent.”
McJunkin is a San Francisco native and came to the warm glass art world through traditional stained glass. The gift of a small kiln hooked her on the narrative potential of glass, and after a summer at Pilchuck International Glass School, she now has four styles of warm glass to design with: cast, kiln-carved, pate de Verre and cluster fusing, according to her bio.
“The vivid colors in my childhood crayon box and the intrigue of building large structures with my brother’s metal erector set laid the groundwork for the art I create today,” McJunkin said. “I also have a background as a science educator, so that is where the environmental aspect of my work originates.
“I first turned from 2-D glasswork to sculptural work around fifteen years ago when I got involved in kiln-fired glass,” she continued. “I realized I needed more substantive support for my work so it could be larger, and that’s when I got into welding. Now Milo does all the metalwork for my, his and our work. Glass is the only medium I have ever worked in, but I do smaller, more personal work for galleries.”
While each artist is in charge of the technical aspects of their work, all aesthetic, design and marketing decisions are made as a team.
“Our work often advocates for planetary health,” White and McJunkin’s combined artist statement reads. “We focus the heat of our commitment, as well as that of our kilns and torches, to transform steel and recycled glass into sculptures related to the environmental effects of human behavior. We have recently addressed issues such as glacier loss, energy depletion and Colony Collapse Disorder in bees worldwide.”
In addition to Fossil II, the duo has also loaned their other sculptures to over a dozen municipalities from Bozeman, MT to Tucson, AZ. They have permanent public projects in Langley’s Clyde Art Valley, the Lynnwood City Center Apartments, the Mount Vernon revetment, along with two for the city of Olympia on Budd Inlet. White and McJunkin also do many commissioned projects for private parties.
McJunkin said she wants to keep making sculptures “as long as I still enjoy it and feel that I have something to contribute to an aesthetic dialogue with my audience. The social traumas of the past few years have given me lots of inspiration for future work.”