Artist Statement - Robert Simmons I am honored to be one of the artists invited to make a set of commemorative beads for the Beads of Courage 20th Anniversary celebration. I came to BoC in late 2003/early 2004 when I met Jean on the artist website Wet Canvas. She was looking for bead makers and I was looking for something to do with the beads that I was making. It all took off from there and after almost 20 years I’m still creating glass art for the children and their families. Nancy Campbell and I started the Dream Bead Program as a small pilot project at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. I served as Director for Bead Donations for many years and was elected to the Bead Artist Hall of Fame in 2013. Over the years my wife, Camille, and I have had the opportunity to visit kids and their families in the hospitals in our area. Through these contacts, we have learned firsthand how important these small tokens are to the children, their families, as well as the doctors, nurses, and other medical staff who work with them. I chose a floral theme for my anniversary bead which I call ‘In the Garden’. These garden beads represent the spiritual and emotional growth that so many have experienced through participation in the Beads of Courage programs. It is my hope that when you hold or wear one of these beads you will experience the peace and hope to be found in a garden of flowers.
Artist Biography - Robert Simmons
During his career as a teacher and researcher in the biological sciences, Robert Simmons has always used art as a way of expressing the beauty that he has seen in the natural world. Much of his current work in glass and enamel draws from his experience with science and imaging. Many of the pieces reflect the shapes and colors he has seen through working with microscopes. Now retired from academia, he is an avid naturalist and strives to bring his vision of nature to a wider audience through his art.
Robert has been working with glass since 2002 and metals and enamel since 2015. His work has been shown in the Forbes Gallery in New York as part of the Jewelry in the Space Age exhibition. Two glass pieces, created for Beads of Courage, orbited the Earth on the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavor and astronaut Buzz Aldrin often wears a strand of custom-made beads that Robert created for him (also through BoC). Robert has acted as curator for The Fusion Gallery (part of the Atlanta Science Festival at Georgia State University) three times. Many scientists are artists as well and this gallery is designed to showcase the interaction between science and art. Robert has also exhibited at the Apalachicola National Environmental Research Reserve with a one-man show, Art from the Sea. His talks on art in science have been well-received nationally. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Microbiology and is deeply dedicated to bringing science and art to a wider audience. He and his wife, Camille, share studio space in Atlanta and Ellijay, GA. His work can be seen at briarwillow.com