Surreal City
Ella Varvio

Visitors to Ella Varvio’s pop-up exhibition Surreal City will encounter illustrations and glass artworks inspired by recent visual observations of the city and more imaginative terrain. Varvio is specialized in art that combines mouth blown glass and narrative drawings. Her project as artist-in-residence at the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York revolves around seeking novel and contemporary motifs for her glass art.

The starting point for Varvio’s monochromatic illustrations is the city’s architecture to which she then adds a variety of surreal twists. In Varvio’s world, buildings transform into characters or organisms in their own right. The city is formed by layer upon layer, reaching from subterranean darkness to the peaks of skyscrapers, and amongst all this lurk fragments of nature hoping to reclaim surrendered ground. The drawings also capture how its inhabitants manage their way through this surreal city.

Varvio’s glass artworks are made using a special glassblowing technique that utilizes decoration trapped between layers of blown glass. The route from inspiration to the final object can be very long, with illustrations presenting the first stage in the design of the new artworks. This imagery will be later used as reference for engraving, sandblasting, painting or to prepare prints for the glass.

During her residency, Varvio is a visiting instructor at UrbanGlass, Brooklyn. Within the state-of-the art studios, Varvio has had the opportunity to create unique glass artworks that both mirror the themes of her new illustrations and explain the layered technique.

Visiting Instructor Talk with Ella Varvio
at UrbanGlass,
647 Fulton St., 3rd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217
June 21st, 6 – 8pm
Event Information

About the Artist
Ella Varvio is an artist-designer working with illustration, ceramics and glass. Varvio’s glass art explores different variations of Graal technique: engraving, prints and air bubbles trapped inside layers of glass. The technique creates a sense of depth and a peek into another world. Varvio aspires to create surreal scenes that do not reveal everything in one look. Her art takes inspiration from folklore, myths, literature and comic art.

Varvio has graduated as Master of Arts at Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture in 2015. She is based in Tampere, Finland and most of her artworks are made in close co-operation with Finnish craftsmen. Varvio’s art has been presented in several international touring exhibitions such as European Glass Experience and Handmade Scandinavian Glass Starting All Over. Her artwork has been featured in New Glass Review, an annual publication of contemporary glass art by Corning Museum of Glass. In 2018 Ella Varvio is artist-in-residence at the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and she has a solo exhibition at the Finnish Glass Museum (Riihimäki), in the fall of 2018.

For more information or to schedule a visit outside of the posted hours, please contact Ella at She can also be followed on Facebook and Instagram.

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