Twelve years after graduating from NC State with a degree in textile technology, Perla Segovia ’00 has pushed the limits of art and design, using her skills to weave far more than textiles. Segovia, an artist based in eastern North Carolina, experiments with woven and fused glass to create pieces inspired by everyday life, her travels and nature.
“I took a workshop in Missouri that taught me how to weave glass,” Segovia says. “I’d never seen woven glass before. It opened up a whole new world for me.”
After graduating from NC State, Segovia lived in Italy for three years while earning a degree in pattern making. She launched her career as an artist by designing jewelry, shoes and handbags, but soon after discovered her passion for working with glass. The material has been the centerpiece of Segovia’s collection ever since.
While Segovia grew up in Peru, only moving to the United States when she was 10 years old, she didn’t return to South America until after college.
“The landscape in Peru is all so different,” Segovia says. “I went to the Amazon, the Andes, the jungle and rainforest, and the mountains. That’s inspired me a lot with design and choice of colors and textures.”
Drawn to the colors and themes in nature, Segovia even seeks out inspiration in her backyard. “I love insects. Right now there are two spiders outside my window and I keep staring at them all day,” she says. “They have beautiful colors.”
Beyond its design, Segovia’s artwork also seeks to convey a deeper message. In one of her most recent pieces — and one she is particularly proud of — Segovia created a pair of rocking chairs from woven glass, which she says is more of a social reflection. “The smaller one is representative of a child and the larger one of a mother,” Segovia says. “It’s about how we’re predisposed to prejudice. It represents how fragile we are as children and how anything will influence [us].”
Segovia says she enjoys working primarily with glass, as well as the reason it conveys her inspiration so well, is because it’s an unpredictable material.
“My art is spontaneous, so I just start playing and experimenting,” she says. “When you fuse two colors together, there’s always chemical reactions that create new colors – that’s what I love about glass.” However, Segovia also draws from her textile background at NC State, interweaving glass and fabric in some of her pieces.
Yet the greatest joy Segovia gets out of her artwork comes not from its creation, but rather from the responses she receives. “When somebody says they’re curious about it and they want to ask questions about how I did my work, I love that,” Segovia says. “I love when someone says ‘Oh, I want to try that!’ That’s my happiest moment right there.”
The satisfaction that Segovia feels when her artwork has inspired someone else has translated into a teaching position at Cape Fear Community College, where she instructs a continuing education course in fusing glass.
“A lot of these people have nine-to-five jobs and their only outlet is to come home and watch TV, so this is a nice change,” she says. “The only thing you’ll care about is what you’ve got your hands on. It’s like therapy to get away from the world.”
– Jamie Gnazzo
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The meal sounds simple enough — a chicken club sandwich with turkey, bacon, avocado, tomatoes and grilled chicken on homemade bread. But for Austin Simmons and Andrew Vanover it was another chance to make a new friend.
Simmons (a rising senior at NC State) and Vanover (a recent NC State grad) are traveling the world this summer. They have a specific goal in mind for their travels — to make new friends in each country by asking strangers to join them for a meal. They even have a name for their journey — 50 days 50 meals.
Austin Simmons and Andrew Vanover
And so, while in Capetown, South Africa, they enjoyed a chicken club at The Green Room, a small surf shop owned by a man named Ollie. “He started his own shop six years ago after being a waiter for 15 years in various locations around the globe,” Simmons wrote in an email while on board a plane destined for Turkey. “He decided he wanted to do something on his own and opened The Green Room. We hung out with him for a bit and got to hear his story! Fantastic stuff.”
Simmons, a Caldwell Fellow, says that he and Vanover wanted to take a trip where they could tap into their shared passion for photography, film and graphic design. But they also wanted the trip to have purpose or, as Simmons says, “something that had some backbone to it.” They offered further explanation for their journey on their blog.
“We both had a love for food and people, so we came up with the concept of engaging with at least one person a day on a personal level,” Simmons says. “We wanted to just love them. We thought, what better platform to reach people than through food. We wanted to engage individuals from multiple socioeconomic backgrounds using the bistro table as common ground. We wanted to hear their stories, hear a their perspective on various topics, learn from different cultures.”
Their travels will ultimately take them to 19 different countries, including Peru, India, China and New Zealand. To pay for the trip, Simmons and Vanover worked for almost six months to get sponsors for each day of their journey. Given the trip’s focus on food, it’s not surprising that many of the sponsors are restaurants in the Triangle — places like Humble Pie, Elmo’s Diner, Vin Rouge and Amante Gourmet Pizza. Other business sponsors include High Rock Partners, Southern Rail and, fittingly, The Globetrotter Luggage & Gifts.
Simmons and Vanover typically arrive in each country with no plans and no place to stay. Their goal is to meet a stranger, offer to buy them dinner and then get to know them over a meal. They take photos and videos of their new friends, and share their experiences on a blog and Web site they are maintaining for their trip. Simmons says the craziest meal they have had so far was a South African sandwich known as a “Gatsby” that is stuffed with different meats, french fries and a special sauce.
“It is important to note that the conversation is the MOST important part,” Simmons wrote. “The paying for the meal is just something we try our best to do to show the true nature of our hearts.”
The two are a couple of weeks into their journey, and Simmons says they have already met dozens of “amazing people.”
“The most exciting thing is knowing that every day is a surprise,” he says. “We have learned to expect the unexpected, let the place we are lead/guide us in whichever and whatever way it wants. And when we don’t understand someone, just smile and say hello!”
Simmons says they hope to turn their journey — and the photos and videos they have taken along the way — into a publication, a documentary and “hopefully” an exhibit at the Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh.
“We’re not changing the world,” Simmons says, “but it is really rewarding to leave a place with new friends and stories to tell.”
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