Russell White, who is 24 and has CF, is a glass artist who creates colorful sculptures that can weigh as much as 15 pounds. He often incorporates his love of biology, anatomy and entomology into his art work by creating glass bugs, insects and other animals.
Russell White, a 24-year-old who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, believes in following his dreams — no matter where they may lead.
Russell loves music, animals and the outdoors, and has pursued his numerous interests through education. He studied music and biology at the University of California at San Diego, and is currently attending veterinary school at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif.
When he isn’t in class, Russell can be found pursuing another hobby: the art of glass blowing. Using nothing but molten glass and his own breath, Russell creates colorful sculptures that sometimes weigh as much as 15 pounds.
“It gives me great satisfaction knowing I can do whatever I set my mind to despite having this disease,” Russell said.
Combining a Love for Art and Science
Russell was introduced to the art when a friend encouraged him to take a glass blowing class while in college. Russell felt an instant connection to the medium and has been hooked ever since.
“I pretty much fell in love instantly,” Russell said. “Standing in front of a really hot furnace for several hours might sound stressful, but it actually distracts you from everything else that is going on in your life. It’s incredibly relaxing for me.”
Russell uses glass blowing to combine his love for biology, anatomy and entomology and often creates glass insects and animals.
His current work in progress is a three-foot long ant with 20 individual parts.
Russell starts each piece by collecting a glob of molten glass on the end of a five-foot long hollow tube, called a blowpipe. He then blows air into the pipe, which creates a bubble inside of the glass.
“I can shape that bubble into whatever piece I want using different tools,” Russell explained. “I incorporate a lot of my scientific education into my work.”
Giving Back with Glass
Russell is an extremely eclectic individual who loves music, art and the outdoors. He is currently studying to become a veterinarian at Western University of Health Sciences in Pamona, Calif.
Russell first became involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation after his CF doctor shared his talents with the San Diego and Imperial Counties chapter office.
Russell volunteered to create the chapter’s Breath of Life and Health Hero awards. Each award is designed to represent a strand of DNA, which reflects the fact that cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease.
“These awards are not only beautiful, but they represent the progress the CF Foundation has made in the fight against this disease,” said CF Foundation development specialist Alyssa Maher. “Knowing that Russell, who has CF, used his lungs to create these beautiful pieces is truly remarkable.”
Russell is happy to be able to share a part of himself with the local community.
“Without CF, I'd be somebody else,” he said. “CF has taught me to be a stronger, more motivated person. I don't use my disease as a crutch or an excuse to not thrive. I use it as the reason to get the most out of life.”
More information about Russell and his work can be found at his website.
Posted June 24, 2012