The stained glass community will gather in a confluence of energy, inspiration and excitement for Forging New Paths: The Stained Glass Association of America’s 2023 Conference, held at The Hyatt Regency in downtown Buffalo, New York, from Thursday, September 28 through Sunday, October 1, 2023. In addition to 25 workshops, five tours, auctions, art salons, art openings, the Vendor Showcase, the Mosaic Marathon, and major networking events – SGAA will hold its General Session.
Each year during General Session, SGAA brings together speakers from around the world to speak about restoration, conservation, public art, history, and technology in the field. It is not uncommon to have roundtables to tackle emerging issues or panels of experts to provide clarity on how industry elements are being tackled across the country. Speakers and lecturers are chosen by a panel of peers for both their content and enthusiasm. The expertise of historians, conservators, and contemporary practitioners come together in a unique way to celebrate the enormous diversity of the entire industry.
In recent years, additional efforts have been made to bring notable guests and speakers to the conferences that can speak to the partnerships glass work often requires, e.g. those in adaptive reuse, metalsmithing, masonry conservation, sacred places, fundraising, and public art. There has also been a great many collaborations within the larger glass arts community as it applies to architectural art glass – kilnforming, flameworking, lamination, etc – and it is always exciting to see how connections made at the annual conference push the boundaries of new work.
Classes & Workshops
Conferences offer a unique opportunity to learn both beginning and advanced techniques and are often geared toward the unique strengths of that year’s conference host. SGAA tailored its workshops to nearby facilities and studio resources that are unique to this year’s conference location. Says McElfresh: “We have been very fortunate to work with incredible teachers from all over the globe – leaders in the field who have generously donated time to share their knowledge with our members and attendees.”
The Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) is the largest nonprofit mosaic art organization in the world—a vibrant and ever-expanding group of more than 1,200 members, including mosaic artists at all levels, mosaic aficionados, collectors, materials suppliers, and art educators. SAMA has placed renewed emphasis on strengthening ties with other mosaic organizations around the globe to pursue common goals.
The Mosaic Marathon brings together members for a unique opportunity to create a mosaic in a cooperative, continuous, networking experience. The Mosaic Marathon creates a lasting piece of art that is donated to a local charity in SGAA’s host conference city. As a not-for-profit organization, this is an opportunity for SAMA to give back to the arts community and create a lasting reminder of its legacy and mission.
Tours & Field Sessions
The history and appreciation of stained glass is inseparable from both its setting as an architectural element and the very nature of the material itself. For craftsmen and artists in the field to gain exposure to the vast living museums of stained glass, they must visit stained glass all over the world whenever they can. “Installations all over the world are our museums, our laboratories, and our classrooms,” says McElfresh.
“Thus, when we come together as a group, we must take advantage of our travel and our companions to go and experience installations, to discuss them with our peers, and to investigate ongoing care and restoration concerns that affect us all. This is one of the most useful ways we can learn as a group.”
Nearly every SGAA conference includes at least one full day of site visits and installation tours. In addition, the organization has been known to schedule and participate in special travel opportunities both in the United States and abroad to experience as much stained glass as possible. The tours are almost always stand-alone events, which can be attended outside of General Session participation and are often open to the public.
Auction & Scholarships
At each conference, members have the opportunity to browse through tables laden with books, sample sets, vendor products, tools, and artwork from members. SGAA’s annual silent and live auction at the summer conference is a major source of funding for scholarship assistance. Donations directly fund scholarships for professional stained glass instruction all over the country and beyond.
On exhibition years, work is donated to SGAA’s live auction, which is an opportunity to collect autonomous work by any number of the group’s talented members.
On the Shoulders of Giants: Innovation in Stained Glass at The Buffalo History Museum, Portico Gallery, September 15, 2023 – January 14, 2024
This anniversary exhibition pays homage to skills honed over generations that have facilitated innovation in past and present-day Buffalo. Just as LaFarge and Tiffany pushed the boundaries of the medium in the 1880s, today’s community continues to move forward, fostering innovation and creativity.
This trifecta of exhibits brings together Buffalo’s unique history and legacy with future architectural endeavors. Conference attendees have the opportunity to experience how glass is a part of the city’s built environment, building momentum for the art of the future. Viewing opportunities include: The new Gundlach building at Buffalo AKG Art Museum and multiple new glass-related commissions being unveiled there this summer; Brilliance: The Stanford Lipsey Art Glass Collection at the Burchfield Penney Art Center; and On the Shoulders of Giants at the Buffalo History Museum.
States David Judson, Judson Studios: “The world of stained glass is constantly evolving with the advancements in technology. Despite being an ancient craft, new and innovative methods are being discovered every day. These advancements present exciting opportunities for the future of this beautiful medium. We are thrilled to witness the endless possibilities that lie ahead.”
Camaraderie, Networking & Celebration
Says McElfresh: “Year after year, SGAA builds on the shoulders of giants, sharing cumulative knowledge with one another. This magic is the result of providing space for the unplanned to occur: the intermingling of artist, craftsmen, business people and suppliers. They exchange ideas, have impromptu demonstrations, and socialize. It is the chemistry created by our shared passion for the glass material that keeps bringing us back together.”
She continues: “At our business meetings, we not only attend to the business of the day, we recognize those who have achieved professional recognition in the field. We seek to learn what challenges may face us next. We are just as eager to hear from emerging professionals as we are to hear from the recognized experts.” Each annual conference ends with an award banquet where SGAA celebrates Lifetime Achievements as well as up-and-coming voices.
The Stained Glass Association of America is one of our nation’s oldest trade associations. Now 120 years old, the organization is proud to produce one of the oldest continuously published art journals in the United States, in addition to providing over 1,500 professionals across the country including manufacturers, suppliers, and educators with programs, scholarships, accreditation, public education and services for stewards.
Says McElfresh: “SGAA is the advocate and ambassador for monumental stained glass art in the United States.”
From his studio in Dania Beach, Florida, Rob Stern creates his signature Windstar sculptures, dedicated to his father, a consummate stargazer fascinated by cosmic phenomena. Stern was also inspired by his surname, which means star in German. The artist often names his stars to reveal their celestial spheres. Copernica is derived from Copernicus, visible in the evening sky over Miami Beach. Polaris, known as the North Star, is the brightest in the constellation of Ursa Minor. Antares is the 15th brightest star in the night sky and is part of the constellation Scorpius. Other Windstar titles conjure colors and experiences, such as Red Dawn, which takes its name from a glowing red center or Modra, the Czech word for blue. Stern’s Windstars are a testament to his deep understanding of glass and belief that the material takes him where it wants to go during the making process.
Another iconic body of work, Stern’s Stilettos, was inspired by his wife’s vast collection of designer shoes that includes Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Alexander McQueen. However, these glass slippers are even more extreme with wild bejeweled designs that could make even Lady Gaga swoon.
Stern states: “My creative endeavors and sculptures are mere stepping stones towards my search for understanding life. Harmonic instances between what I sense and do are the signals that guide me through my processes and prompt daily decisions. My works act as a communicative device which seeks to connect my thoughts and my actions to the collective human consciousness. A path seeking insight and enlightenment carries me forwards and always seems to bring me back to the glass.”
His mother an art teacher and father a filmmaker, Stern attended Northside High School for Performing Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was part of an elite group that performed internationally. He later pursued visual arts, receiving a BFA from San Francisco State University (1989) and an MFA from the University of Miami (2003). Other glass training includes a five-year apprenticeship with John Lewis Glass, Oakland, California, where he trained to be a metal fabricator and expert glass caster/cold-worker. Stern went on to assist Czech master Petr Novotny and worked in the Czech glass factories as a designer/maker for two years. The artist also assisted or collaborated with many masters such as Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Martin Blank, Richard Royal, Richard Jolley, Dante Marioni, Therman Statom, Stanislav Libensky, Rene Roubicek, and Vladimir Klien, among many others.
Lecturing at the University of Miami for 10 years, Stern also acted as interim professor at University of Texas Arlington in 2009. He has frequented the premier glass institutions, most notably Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, for a 30-year consecutive run where he has taught, been a gaffer, TA, AA, and worked with the most notable international artists. Dedicated to education, the artist has also taught at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; the Penland School of Craft, North Carolina; The Glass Furnace, Istanbul, Turkey; Bildwerk Frauenau, Germany; and Ways of Glass, Czech Republic. Stern designed and created many centerpiece collections for various institutions including Pilchuck in 2011, and he received the Amazon award for his Pilchuck auction piece in 2021. This year he has a prominent piece in Pilchuck’s October Auction.
Currently involved in long-term residencies at YZ Center for the Arts, China, and Bezaiten Arts Center in Lake Worth, Florida, Stern will serve as the future director of glass at The Dania Art Park, now in development. Meanwhile he and his team design and create original sculpture, architectural commissions, and unique lighting that has been commissioned, exhibited, and collected internationally. Recently, the artist participated in Habatat Gallery’s Glass 51 exhibition, and several of his works were acquired by Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Eighty of his pieces have become part of the permanent collection of the Weiner Museum of Decorative Arts (WMODA), Dania Beach, Florida.
Says Stern: “My aesthetic resides at the crossroads where humans and nature intersect. Between organic and angular, a space connects the temporary man-made to the pre-existing and eternal cosmos. Here, we begin to measure our perspective and contemplate the perception of our place in the world as it is one that is always changing with the evolution of space, light, and time. I venture to capture moments with materials that speak to a fleeting sensibility of the permanence or importance of this balancing act. Color and form dictate emotion, and humanity is transcended as we reflect in the inherent rhythm and fractal patterning in this natural world. My constant observation of details persuades my attention to nuances in an attempt to mimic the complexity of its simplicity.”
Stern’s work will be exhibited at Kittrell Riffkind in Dallas, Texas, in April 2024.
With glass as her medium and lost wax casting as her primary technique, Anja Isphording creates idiosyncratic sculptures familiar enough for us to recognize that they are inspired by nature, yet rarely resembling anything that we have actually encountered. Her intimate-scale objects, tactile and rich with deeply saturated colors, are reminiscent of basic molecular structures, honeycombs or coral reefs, but their biological reference remains ambiguous.
In Germany, Isphording’s early glass engraving studies in the 1980s with FS Zwiesel and Franz X Hoeller were followed by a stint as an engraving instructor at the summer school Bild-Werk, Frauenau. She founded her first studio in Helminghausen, Germany, in 1989, but relocated to Vancouver, BC, Canada, in 2000 and switched her focus to casting.
Isphording’s work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States, and collected by museums worldwide, including the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Museum of American Glass, Wheaton, NJ; Glass Museum Kamenicky Senov, Czech Republic; Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt; and Kuntsgewerbemuseum, Berlin Germany, among others. She has been juried into New Glass Review – the Corning Museum of Glass’ prestigious annual survey of cutting-edge glass – an unprecedented 10 times.
Many consider Isphording’s intimate sculptures among the most intriguing objects ever made from glass. They embody reverence for nature’s mysteries and explore the patterns and structures of nature without ever literally reproducing them. Often they evoke a mood as much as an image. Plants and marine creatures may echo in the forms, but ultimately, they are guided by the artist’s exquisite imagination.
Isphording’s awards include 1998-2001 scholarships at Pilchuck Glass School, WA; 1995 scholarship at the Creative Glass Center of America, Wheaton Village, NJ; 1993-1994 scholarship at the Academy of Applied Arts, class Vladimir Kopecky, Prague, Czech Republic; 2011-2012 prizes in TGK Competition, Germany; 2004 Artist of the Month, Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass; 2001 prize, WG at BE Exhibition, Portland, OR; 1993 Bayrischer Staatspreis; and 1986 prize, Leistungswettbewerb der Handwerksjugend, Germany.
First modeled full-size in wax and then cast in glass, Isphording’s intricate compositions often require multiple firings. When finished, the sculptures have a tactile quality and emotional range that sets them apart from contemporary trends and renders them timeless. Each piece takes months to create – follow this link to learn more about her process. Demanding technical challenges coupled with the complexity of her forms conspire to limit her output.
This Friday, August 18 – September 1, 2023, Heller Gallery in NYC will present Isphording’s latest sculptures as part of their summer pop-up series titled Rotations.
Art and technology share a symbiotic grace in the glass spacecraft, rockets, and scientific apparatus of Rik Allen. Most of his work is made primarily of glass and metal, which expresses a paradoxical symbiosis. The relationship between the rigid strength of metal with the inherent fragility of glass creates an alluring tension. While many of his pieces reference his curiosity about science, they also convey humor, simple narratives, and a lightheartedness that is embodied in much of science fiction’s antiquated vision of the future. The theme of “futuristic antiquity” reflects Allen’s interest in the literary fictional worlds of Jules Vern, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clark, and Isaac Asimov and their influence on the scientific community. His sculpture is also inspired by the accounts of early scientific pioneers of the 19 and 20th centuries, such as Nicola Tesla, Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun, and other great scientific minds.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Allen earned a BA in Anthropology from Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire. His earliest and formative glass studio experiences and education came as a studio assistant in Providence, working with a number of wonderful artists to include Daniel Clayman, James Watkins, and Michael Scheiner. Allen relocated to Washington in 1994, where he joined the William Morris team at the Pilchuck Glass School for 13 years, specializing in engraving, cutting, and finishing glass sculpture.
Allen has had numerous solo exhibitions of his sculptures throughout the country, including at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, the Museum of Northwest Art, Traver Gallery, Blue Rain Gallery, Schantz Gallery, and Duncan McClellan Gallery. His sculptures have been acquired for a number of public and private collections, including Glass Museum in Tacoma, Imagine Museum, Toyoma Institute of Glass, Blue Origin, Boeing, Amazon and SpaceX. In 2016, his work appeared in a feature cover story published by American Craft magazine and in 2018, he was awarded “Grand Artist of the future” by Imagine Museum.
In 2005, Allen established a glass and sculpture studio with his wife, artist Shelley Muzylowski Allen at their property in Skagit County, Washington. In addition to being artists, the couple has taught internationally at the Toyama Institute of Glass in Toyama, Japan, and the International Glass Festival in Stourbridge, England. They have also taught nationally, including the Penland School of Craft, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and at Pilchuck Glass School.
A lifelong Star Trek devotee – whose earliest memories of creation involved making scotch tape and cardboard phasers and communicators – Allen was contacted by Eugene (Rod) Roddenberry, son of Star Trekcreator Gene Roddenberry and current spokesman for Trekkies everywhere. Intrigued by Allen’s work after seeing a piece one of his friends owned, Roddenberry commissioned a sculpture of the original series’ Starship Enterprise. The sculpture was to reflect the basic design of the original Enterprise, but also incorporate Allen’s personality into a sculpture that was of his own original design and overall interpretation.
Allen, in collaboration with wife Shelley, has created and will install two large public sculptures, Sticken (the Orchard Octopus) in September, and Heronious One in November in Bellevue, Washington. He will have an exhibition of new work in spring 2024 at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and will collaborate with Dave Walters this fall.
In 1974, three recent art school graduates – Ray Ahlgren, Dan Schwoerer, and Boyce Lundstrom – cobbled together a glass factory in the backyard of a ramshackle house in Portland, Oregon. Resourceful by nature and necessity, they built their factory with scraps repurposed from a shipyard. And, their products—hand-rolled sheets for the stained glass trade—were made from recycled bottle cullet. Shamelessly innovative and unconventional, Bullseye Glass Company was born.
A chance encounter with artist Klaus Moje in 1979 inspired them to do something that had never been done before—something that would change the company’s course and the history of glass art. They produced a palette of tested-compatible glasses for creating works in a kiln.
This reliably fusible glass was an extraordinary product that artists had historically longed for. However, there was a problem—almost no one knew what to do with it. Undaunted, Bullseye embarked on a long-term program of research and education by working hand-in-hand with artists to expand and share the technical, aesthetic, and conceptual possibilities of what is now known as “kiln-glass.”
Nearly five decades later, the Bullseye factory has expanded to cover most of the block around the old house where it all started. While the practice of glass fusing, or kilnforming, has expanded exponentially, Bullseye still produces glass the same way as in 1974—one handmade sheet at a time. At this time, the factory casts up to 1,500 sheets every day, in addition to fusible accessory glasses like powder, frit, ribbon, and stringer. Significantly, Bullseye Glass now ships to countries around the world for makers who create stunningly diverse glassworks.
Lani McGregor is the Director of Bullseye Projects. Prior to joining Bullseye Glass Co. in 1984, she operated a glass studio in New Mexico that specialized in kilnformed and flat architectural glass. In 1990, she established Bullseye’s Research & Education Department and developed its initial teaching programs.
Bullseye’s Research & Education team continues to explore and share new ways of working with this remarkable material. Bullseye Studio, the fabrication arm of Bullseye Glass Co., collaborates with artists, architects, and designers to demonstrate the large-scale potential of kilnformed glass. In like manner, Bullseye Projects champions artists from around the world who work in kilnforming by mounting exhibitions. The Bullseye Online Store continues to make the company’s materials and favorite tools accessible. And finally, Bullseye Glass Resource Centers provide classes and Open Studio access to empower anyone to create with color and light.
Enjoy this conversation with founders Schwoerer and McGregor, who trace their company’s history, challenges and continued goals to inspire, while providing the tools needed to make the world brighter and more colorful through the incredible potential of glass.
For more on Bullseye history, check out Schwoerer and McGregor here:
British born artist, Joanna Manousis creates sculptural objects and installations in glass and mixed media, manipulating materials through a multi-disciplinary process that includes bronze casting, enamels, and even taxidermy. With a hands-on studio practice spanning 17 years, she strives to transform cast glass surfaces into reflective, three-dimensional mirrors, shifting the viewers’ perspective and bringing new experiential possibilities.
Wrote Eve Kahn in a 2018 Todd Merrill exhibition catalog: “Joanna Manousis mines her life experiences while exploring broader themes—materialism, memory, domesticity, vanity, iridescence—in acclaimed sculptures that mingle glass with wheat husks and taxidermied birds. Viewers may find themselves reflecting on the transience of existence while seeing themselves literally and metaphorically mirrored in her works.”
An only child raised by her mother, growing up Manousis loved drawing and painting. During early meditations with mirrors, she had the initial experience of being somehow detached from her body – a phenomenon whereby her spirit seemed disconnected from her visual appearance. In college, Manousis set out to become a painter, but the canvas plane gave her artist’s block. She enrolled at Wolverhampton University for a bachelor of fine art-glass degree, and during a year abroad studied neon and glass casting and blowing at Alfred University in western New York. In 2008, she earned her MFA at Alfred, and by then had met her future husband, the Maine-born glass artist Zac Weinberg.
Now a working mom of two, Manousis travels the world to teach, exhibit, and make artworks, while winning awards and grants. Her work has been recognized with nominations for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and a Bombay Sapphire Award Nomination for ‘Excellence in Glass’ as well as the Margaret M. Mead Award and the Hans Godo Frabel Award. She has received support from internationally recognized residency programs including the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; and Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France. Her work has been exhibited at Design Miami and Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland; FOG Art + Design, San Francisco; the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Ebeltoft, Denmark; and the British Glass Biennale, Stourbridge, England. The artist has worked, studied and taught in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
Manousis states: “My work is born out of a sustained exploration of human nature and the conflicts that exist between our inner reality and the world we occupy. I often emphasize decadence and grandiosity to illuminate the superfluous nature of accumulated luxury when faced with our own impermanence. I am also interested in engaging the viewer’s gaze, drawing the participant into a state of reflection, literally and philosophically, about the essence of human existence and ideas related to growth, emotionality, aspiration and mortality.”
She continues: “Glass is my chosen medium, and I am drawn to its contrasting qualities–transparent yet solid, it simultaneously reveals yet barricades. In recent works I use cast glass as a lens to magnify residual formations of objects within. On occasion these negative spaces are mirrored, enlivening static surfaces in my pursuit to reflect the viewer and the environment that the work inhabits. Incorporating the audience’s gaze, whether it is distorted or clear, centralizes the viewer within the work itself, facilitating a stronger connection between observer and object.”
ToYG podcast caught up with Manousis just prior to two US workshops: Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, North Carolina, July 2 – 14 and The Corning Museum of Glass, July 31 – August 6. In addition to her core-cast pieces with internal spaces, she continues her PhD testing, along with a new venture in customizable wall installations made with graphite molding techniques that she and husband Weinberg create together in their company Manberg Projects. Manousis’ PhD research focuses on three-dimensional mirrors within cast glass resulting in work that deals with reflection, both physically and metaphorically. The artist has also recently started making jewelry – small scale pieces that are more accessible and used to adorn. Check out this new work on Instagram @jomanousis. Her sculptural practice can be found @joanna.manousis.
Loretta H. Yang and Chang Yi, founders and artists of LIULI Crystal Art, devoted their life to the art of LIULI for three decades. In the process, they revived the ancient Chinese technique of pâte de verre lost wax casting and instigated the contemporary glass art movement in Asia. Richly imbued with traditional Chinese artistic vocabulary and philosophical thinking, Yang’s works have been acquired by more than 22 museums for their permanent collections including Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Palace Museum in Beijing, New York Museum of Arts and Design, The Corning Museum of Glass, and Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. She has created work for the Oscars, Grammys and 32 world leaders.
“Beauty transformed” is how Japanese critics have described Yang’s multiple talents. Named Best Leading Actress in the 21st and 22nd Golden Horse Film Awards ceremony, she was the first actress who won this award two years in a row. In 1987, Yang left the film industry along with her late husband, film director Chang Yi, and several other people from the film industry to establish the glass workshop and studio LIULI Crystal Art near Taipei, Taiwan. The industrious group invested their resources in rehabilitating a dilapidated factory and learned the techniques and process of glass casting in the French manner, similar to the luxury glass made by Lalique and Daum. Yang single-handedly rediscovered the techniques of pâte de verre glass casting and uses this technique to create works with a traditional Chinese artistic flare.
When asked, “What has it been like being a woman in the glass arts industry all these years,” Yang responded: “Honestly, I haven’t given this topic much thought. Don’t exceptional women exist in all industries? Chang Yi believed that women were the stronger gender and possess a resilience men don’t. He would use the saying ‘will of steel, gentle heart’ to describe women, because he observed that we lead with a gentleness of heart and an unwavering will. Maybe I’ve been lucky to work with Chang Yi all this time because despite what other people said, we took it with a grain of salt and continued to live according to our own set of rules. We complemented each other. He was responsible for the development, planning and operational aspects of the company. And because of this, he was able to steer our team in the right direction and instill an equitable value system.”
She continues: “I, on the other hand, have more patience and lean more toward innovation. I enjoy researching techniques – LIULI Crystal Art’s 12-step technique is a product of my work. Yes, the process was challenging, but what would we be without it? LIULI Crystal Art faced a lot of challenges in our 36 years. The sheer will to complete a project was our greatest encouragement and got us through them. Chang Yi used to good-naturedly admonish that I was the type of person who doesn’t know when to quit. But really, I’m the type of person who immerses themselves in something and will continue searching for an answer until I find it. Value and strength are creations of our own design. I refuse to put myself in a box or limit myself in any way. Women can be just as bold as men, men can be just as resilient as women.”
Today, LIULI Crystal Art owns factories on Taiwan (Tamshui) and in Shanghai, and numerous galleries on Taiwan and in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and United States. The group decided to use the Chinese word LIULI as opposed to more common names for glass in the Chinese language. It is commonly believed that the word LIULI first appeared during the Western Zhou Dynasty (about 1045-771 BCE), which referred to the glass being produced at the time. For Yang especially, using the term LIULI greatly references her own body of work, which draws upon traditional Chinese motifs and such Buddhist teachings as enlightenment and transparency, evoking an almost meditative practice and devotional purpose. Each piece undergoes a comprehensive 12-step process and requires six to eight months to complete.
Known for her floral sculptures, in 2006 Yang removed all traces of color from her work. This pure, transparent series debuted at Leo Kaplan Modern in New York in 2007 with Proof of Awareness, an oversized and colorless blooming peony, garnering widespread acclaim. To Yang, the oversized flowers of Proof of Awareness represented her life reflections and the next stage of her creative journey.
Says Yang: “LIULI petals, when looked at individually, hold little significance. But when clustered together, these petals manifest a symbiotic relationship to create a single large and flawless flower. A harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship does not focus on the self but on the greater good of everyone involved.”
Combining pâte de verre with hot casting, Yang uses multiple castings to create the abstract form of Buddha. Because life is impermanent, LIULI is the perfect material to capture its wavering illusory and tangible qualities. Yang explored the Buddhist philosophy of enlightenment and non-attachment in her exhibition Diamond Sutra held at the Grand Palais in 2015. The Ateliers d’Art de France commented: “The collection exudes a meditative philosophy that captures the Parisian way of life yet is an uncommon component in contemporary French art.”
In 1996, when Yang and Chan Yi visited the Buddhist grottoes near the desert oasis of Dunhuang in western China, the moment they saw the Thousand-armed, Thousand-eyed Guanyin fresco in Cave 3 at Mogao, painted during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) and slowly disappearing under the relentless weathering of the desert sandstorms, Yang vowed to recreate the image in glass as a way of handing down to future generations the wisdom and compassion it has accumulated over the centuries. On the reverse side is engraved the Great Compassion Dharani, a popular incantation in Chinese Buddhism. The unique transparent nimbus represents the wisdom and compassion of Guanyin illuminating the world. The image exudes an air of boundless compassion, quelling the anxiety of a troubled heart. Though Yang has completed a 200cm version, her deepest wish is to complete a LIULI-made Thousand-armed, Thousand-eyed Guanyin that measures14.7 feet tall!
In order to “continuously create art for the good of the heart,” Chang wrote a dedicated poem for each artwork. It took great determination and faith to accumulate such a compelling body of work. He viewed LIULI as a communicator of life and death, and as the state between illusion and reality, light and shadow. Even though life was illusory, a dream and ephemeral like bubbles, there was always an unwavering touch of red in the heart urging all to never give up life and never give up hope.
Says Yang: “Although it’s been more than three decades, we know there’s a lot more to achieve. And the only way to do so is to continuously practice what we believe in. The mission of LIULI has always been more than LIULI. It is the society, the culture, and the human beings.
Pacific Northwest glass artists Kelly O’Dell and Raven Skyriver, who create sculptures inspired by marine life, species endangerment, extinction, and conservation, will exhibit their work at Habatat Galleries during next week’s Glass Art Society conference in Detroit, Michigan. Titled Confluence, the show is a tour de force of works created in homage to the natural world and to raise consciousness in viewers about the need for preservation of natural spaces and species.
On June 5, during Habatat’s first ever VIP Artist Gala, Skyriver will present a glassblowing demo at the brand-new Axiom glassblowing facility, followed by artist talks given by Skyriver and O’Dell. On June 7, VIPs travel to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation to view its important glass art collection and experience a rare opportunity to see the culmination of O’Dell’s residency there via work she created onsite at Greenfield Village.
In 2018, Skyriver and O’Dell launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund building their own studio on Lopez Island, Washington. They wrote: “We’re now asking you for assistance to build our own glass studio where we can deepen our practice, give back to our community, and nurture our family… This project came from a vital need: to have more time together (AND about 10,000 fewer miles traveled on the freeway every year). We are moving to the island where Raven was born and raised to allow our son to grow up surrounded by his grandparents and extended family, but the island has no glass studio available for our use. So, we’re building one, from the ground up, with the support of our friends and family.”
Aside from creating their own work there, Skyriver and O’Dell’s studio represents a place of education and community where visiting artists can be invited for residencies, short-term apprenticeships can be offered, and small teaching workshops can be hosted. They wrote: “This hotshop will allow us to pass on the knowledge that was so generously taught to us by our creative masters, and give back to our glass community.” Though they surpassed their initial Kickstarter goal, the studio remains a work in progress, evolving physically as well as philosophically.
Born in 1982, Raven Skyriver (Tlingit) was raised in the San Juan Islands. Growing up connected to the land and its surrounding waters, and living in a creative household where carvers came to learn Northwest Coast style carving and design, helped push him towards an artistic path. At the age of 16, he was introduced to glass by family friend and mentor Lark Dalton and was immediately captivated by the medium. Exploring every opportunity to work in glass led Skyriver to being invited to work with Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen for the William Morris team in 2003. This was his introduction to sculptural glass and how building a vocabulary for narrative in his own work began. In 2018, the artist returned to Lopez Island where he was born, and he and wife O’Dell constructed a home studio where they can create their glass art.
Says Skyriver: “I was raised near the sea and in a family that valued and practiced artistic pursuits from as young as I can remember. Some of my most vivid memories as a child were smelling the fresh cedar chips that were being removed by master carvers’ blades as they sculpted beautifully elegant forms. The most excitement I have experienced in my life was the first salmon I ever landed, the time I saw a Sea Lion a paddle’s length from my boat, and seeing a humpback whale feeding on smelt. When I was introduced to glass as a junior in high school, I was immediately captivated by the mesmerizing, alchemic, fluid nature of the material. From that day forward I have dedicated myself to honing my craft and perfecting my technique.”
Skyriver continues his artistic practice utilizing close observation of his sculptural subjects to create an ongoing personal dialogue. This inner conversation touches on the celebration of biodiversity, his understanding of his heritage, the importance of Native species, the gifts those beings bring to their communities, and the delicate balance that sustains our collective existence.
He states: “I draw from my experiences as a child and my continued fascination with the natural world to inform the work I make today. My goal is to capture the fluidity of an animal in motion, using the liquid glass to portray a dynamic moment in time. I attempt to imbue the subject with a hint of life and capture the essence of the creatures I depict. I want my work to speak to the viewer’s own understanding of the wild and their place in it, and to instill a sense of the delicate balance that is our existence.”
Born in Seattle, Washington, in 1973, O’Dell was raised by glass artists in Kealakekue, Hawaii, where her father built himself a hot glass studio at their home. In 1999 she graduated from the University of Hawaii (UH), Manoa, earning a BFA in Studio Art with a focus in glass, which she studied under Rick Mills. The UH program afforded many opportunities to study glass at Pilchuck Glass School, where she eventually relocated and became a member of the William Morris winter crew from 2003 to 2007.
Says O’Dell: “My upbringing happened in the Hawaiian Islands. I grew up on the Big Island, home of active volcanoes. Coming from a place so diverse in culture and climate, teeming with flora, fauna, and really great food, I noticed the difference as soon as I left it at 25. That difference made me feel the responsibility to honor what is lost, or extinct, not just with plants and animals, but with culture and climate, too. It is fascinating and devastating that our existence has so much impact on the delicate balance of life, our own species included. Through sculpture, my work explores themes of Memento Mori as well as extinction, preservation, and origin. The Ammonite, an intelligent coiled-up cephalopod, became extinct 65 Million years ago, leaving impressions in its habitat to fossilize. We learn from the past to be responsible in our future. I hope my artwork could serve as a reminder or Memento of this.”
O’Dell’s recent exhibitions include Fired Up: Glass Today, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, 2022; Chinese Whispers, curated by Erin Dickson, Glazenhuis, Lommel, Belgium 2022, and Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Denmark, 2019-20; Glass Lifeforms 2021, The Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; and Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest, Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA, 2021. This year, the artist will serve a glass residency at The Henry Ford Museum, MI, and received The Myrna Palley Collaborators Award, University of Miami, FL. She and Skyriver will be instructors at Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, NC in July 2023.
In her creative process, O’Dell is often inspired by a non-fiction book, a curious detail in nature, or a podcast about science or spirituality. That leads to research, and most ideas make it to her sketchbook. States O’Dell: “I’ll return to those ideas later, after they’ve passed the test of some time. I need to be sure before I start a fresh project that I will be challenged with a new sort of problem-solving, which I really love most about making artwork. The process of glassmaking is hot, fluid, demanding, and not without help! In the glass shop, my favorite part about making artwork is working with friends. Glass is special in that it usually requires skilled teamwork, and we all sort of know the same language in the shop. Working with a team, it is possible to accomplish some pretty crazy challenges. While we help each other make artwork, we push each other and the limits of what glass can do. We cross paths regularly, and so we become community. We raise each other’s kids, we bbq together, we camp at the beach, we travel to faraway places together, and we gravitate to one another in socially awkward situations. I feel very lucky to be part of this vibrant community.”
Occasionally an artist is commissioned to create a work that advances their skills to such a degree that no project seems unreachable going forward. Such was the case with De Carter Ray’s History of Transportation, created in 2017 for C. Graham Berwind III’s residence. The original work on which the project was based was designed by Jean Dupas and constructed for the transatlantic ship the S.S. Normandie in 1935. The original took 2 years to make; Carter Ray had only eight months.
Requested as a feature for her client’s dining room wall, Carter Ray’s drawings were followed by photography, then scanning into a computer. Ropes, guns, anchors, chains, rigging and carbuncles were all carved. Longer rigging lines were carved 1/16 of an inch and filled with enamel paint. For the entire project, the artist had to work in reverse and flip the piece sideways on an easel in order to reach it. The piece was done in stages. Each panel design was carefully taken apart, foreground to background, one item at a time. All of the Van Dyke brown had to be painted first; then the hand painted flags on the sails; the birds in front of the sails; the shading on sails and mastheads; the rigging holding the masts; the long hand painted lines with brushes; the gold paint over that; and then Manetti gold leaf. Each layer had to dry eight hours minimum in order to prevent the paint from peeling and lifting later. The finer details were hand painted with a paint brush, and the rest air-brushed with an Iwita dual action micro airbrush.
Frame construction and installation presented additional learning curves. Living in an earthquake state, Carter Ray wanted to ensure the piece wouldn’t be held too tightly and break from strain. The frame needed to look lighter than air yet be supported from the bottom. She designed clips to hold the piece on top and a brass bar that could support 1100 pounds on the bottom. The art was divided into four panels, each piece 36 inches wide by 83 3/8 inches tall. The overall finished width spans 12 feet wide and almost 7 feet tall, totaling 95 square feet.
Creg Oosterhart, project designer, said “De, if you ever work for a new client, and they question your abilities, just show them a photograph of this, and say, ‘I designed and manufactured every aspect of this project- start to finish.’ It will remove all doubt.”
Carter Ray’s history includes working as a draftsperson for Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo, California, where she learned to draw landing gears and correct blueprints using a T square and a triangle. She also worked for printing companies, at one time drawing illustrations of food and woks for a book titled Madame Wu’s Art of Chinese Cooking. In combination with some of these early skills, the artist marries client inspiration with her own spectacular vision for a project resulting in stunning flat glass creations that grace homes and businesses around the globe. Self-taught, her skill set includes carved, etched, stained, leaded, painted, and mosaic glass, as well as frit painted and slumped glass, and beveled windows. She is currently experimenting with fused glass and its incorporation into her work.
States Carter Ray: “The making of art glass is my life’s work. Clients have an idea at the studio, and we bring it to fruition. It is all about process, finding the right inspiration for a particular subject. Usually, the art requested has a purpose. I will be given a space to work with, a subject matter, and the inspiration to fill it. My job is to listen. Take all the elements in to consideration, put a different spin on the ball and hand it back to them in a way that is workable, and attractive, hopefully better than what was originally conceived.”
Carter Ray established Classical Glass Studio in Huntington Beach, California, in 1983, and brings over 32 years of experience to her customer’s art glass needs.
Under cover of his signature top hat and distinctive moustache, Lewis Wilson has accomplished more than most people dream of. His list of achievements includes success as a glass art instructional video producer, demonstrating lampworking artist, promoter of the world’s largest hot glass competition, and founding member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers. A fixture at glass bead and pipe shows, “Looie” is also a fire-eating juggler, knife swallower and a black belt in karate. In his Crystal Myths gallery, you’ll find everything from goblets and vases to birds and dinosaurs. The fantasy realm is where this artist draws much of his inspiration.
Being from New Mexico, it is only fitting that Wilson is also known for glass sculptures of Native American ceremonial dancers. The intricately costumed pieces have not only become prized additions to private collections, but were also given as official presentations from the state of New Mexico to visiting dignitaries such as King Juan Carlos of Spain, blues legend Bo Diddley, and Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Born in 1949 in Roswell, New Mexico, Wilson was part of a military family that moved frequently to places such as Dallas, Texas, then Morroco, North Africa, and on to Riverside, California. In 1960, 11-year-old Wilson moved with his family to Goose Bay, Canada, where he taught himself how to eat fire, juggle, throw knives and do various magic and circus tricks. In 1963 following a move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, he started learning Shotokan karate, receiving his first-degree black belt in 1969.
Joining the United States Air Force in 1970, Wilson was a medic during the Vietnam war, stationed at Cocoa Beach, Florida. During the slow hours of the night, he taught himself about glass through an old scientific glass blowing book he found in the Air Force base library. The medical lab was his studio and a Bunsen burner his equipment. There he made intricately woven animal figurines from 4 mm Pyrex stirring rods.
Wilson’s first real lessons in glass blowing came in 1973 under the tutelage of Alfonso and Tomas Arribas who had reportedly caught the attention of Walt Disney when the brothers represented Spain at the 1964–‘65 New York World’s Fair. Wilson talked them into an apprenticeship at the Crystal Arts on Main Street, U.S.A at Disneyworld where he made thousands of crabs, teapots and birdbaths for the tourists. Mexican glass blower Miguil Bonilla, who also worked for Disney, was another of his mentors.
Upon leaving the Air Force in 1974, Wilson went the following day to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, to try to secure a job as a glassblower. There were no glassblowing openings, however they did have a vacancy for a juggler and fire-eater. For the next two years he worked with tattooed belly dancers, a magician, and an organ grinder and his monkey. Later that year, Wilson married, and his family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he opened his glass business, Crystal Myths.
In 1993, Wilson produced his first glassworking video, Glass Bead Making, and now has produced more than 20 titles. In 1996, Crystal Myths promoted its first show, The Best Bead Show, in Tucson, Arizona, earning him the nickname of “the P.T. Barnum of Beadmakers.” In 2002, Wilson promoted the world’s largest hot glass competition called the Albuquerque Flame-Off. There, 300 glass workers from the U.S. and Canada worked on six torches running for 12 hours a day for two days.
In 2005, Wilson demonstrated at the Kobe International Lampworking Festival in Kobe, Japan, and only spoke Japanese, which he taught himself, during the demo. Later that year, a building was named after him at Art Glass Invitational in September, one of the highlights of his career.
Wilson sold the Best Bead Shows in 2008, re-emerging as a talented artist able to concentrate fully on lampworking. Later that year, at the Oakland ISGB convention, he was presented with the Hall of Flame Award. In 2011, Wilson married glass artist Barbara Svetlick with whom he founded Soft Glass Invitational, promoted for two years in Hilliards, Pennsylvania. In 2015, the event was given to Kris Schaible, and she continues to promote the event.
These days, Wilson spends the bulk of his time filling commissions and doing standard production work, with the remainder dedicated to new designs. He and his wife enjoy collaborating, which comprises about 10 percent of each artist’s work. With Svetlick’s flowers added to Wilson’s glass sculpture or her sculpture incorporating his beads, the artwork benefits from the best of both worlds.
As a collaborative team, Dean Bensen and Demetra Theofanous create narrative pate de verre wall sculptures utilizing nature as a vehicle to communicate environmental challenges and metaphors for the human experience. Their work connects the viewer with the natural world and instills an appreciation for its interconnectedness to humanity and its inherent fragility.
Says Bensen and Theofanous: “Our decaying leaf installations reflect on our impermanence and vulnerability. What we do has impact – often unforeseen and unmeasured. A pile of leaves hit by a gust of wind is a metaphor for this uncertainty in our future. It expresses that pivotal moment of change, when things we took for granted are suddenly gone. Existing peacefully with others and protecting our natural resources is a tenuous balance, highlighting our interdependence on others and the earth.”
Bensen and Theofanous work both independently and as a collaborative team. Their work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous private and public collections. Recent exhibitions include participating 2018 at the Ming Shangde Glass Museum in China, where they received an award from the Chinese government. Another large-scale leaf installation was on view 2022-‘23 in an exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, curated by Brandy Culp.
Attending The College of Idaho, Bensen graduated with a BA in art in 1990. His fascination in glass started a hunger for what he had been missing since his youth, an immersion into the exploration and development of his creative side. Upon receiving his degree, he moved to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho, where he continued working in glass at a local studio. In 1997, the artist returned to California to pursue glassblowing as a full-time career. Immersing himself in the Bay Area glass scene, Bensen began working for many local artists and teaching at places such as San Jose State University, Palo Alto High School, Corning Glass School, Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI), and Public Glass.
In 2002, Bensen developed a body of work that would become the foundation for his ideas based on the existence of the old growth redwood forest. Using both clear glass and color, he focused initially on environmental concerns. As his concepts evolved, Bensen’s work grew further, investigating the life cycles in nature, their significance, and the interplay between the earth and various species. Each slice of murrine served to highlight one of nature’s footprints, marking the passage of time and a glimpse of history, the rings of life in a felled tree. Bensen has taught extensively, received a scholarship to attend Pilchuck glass school, and his first solo show, Nature’s Footprints, received a full-page review in the San Francisco Chronicle. His work has been widely exhibited, including at the Imagine Museum, San Francisco Airport Museum, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, the Oakland Airport Museum, and the Ming Shangde Glass Museum in China. He has also worked on a team creating several projects for renowned artist Dale Chihuly, including an enormous chandelier in Dubai.
Theofanous was immersed in the arts from a very young age, but this thirst for expression was temporarily diverted when she received her business degree from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She graduated and spent time working in San Francisco only to realize there was something missing in her work, and she needed to find a way to return to her creative roots. In 2004, Theofanous entered the medium of glass through flameworking and developed a method for weaving with glass that provides a continuing basis for narratives and investigation in her work. She also utilizes the ancient technique of pate de verre, which offers a detailed and painterly approach to casting that is well suited to creating hyper-realistic sculpture inspired by the natural world. Some of her sculptures now combine this cast glass technique with flameworked sculpture.
Theofanous has been internationally recognized for her woven glass nest and flora sculptures, and is included in numerous private collections, as well as in the permanent collection of the Racine Art Museum. Notable awards include: a Juror’s Choice Award from renowned collector Dorothy Saxe, a merit award from Paul Stankard, a NICHE Award, a Juror’s Choice Award at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Grant, two juror awards from Carol Sauvion, Executive Producer of Craft in America, and an Award of Excellence juried by the Detroit Institute of the Arts in Habatat Gallery’s 50th International Exhibiton . She has exhibited internationally, including at the Triennial of the Silicate Arts in Hungary, San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design, National Liberty Museum, Alexandria Museum of Art, and twice in the Crocker Art Museum’s prestigious Crocker-Kingsley Biennial. As an educator she has taught at top institutions such as Pratt Fine Arts Center and Pittsburgh Glass Center. She serves as Board President of the Glass Alliance of Northern California, was as a Board Member of the Glass Art Society, and is the President of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.
Theofanous and Bensen met in 2004, and their friendship soon evolved into a partnership, both in and outside of the studio. In 2017, during an artist residency at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, they began to merge their sculptural works culminating with an exhibition of woven glass wall tapestries titled Intertwined. Their collaborative work is now represented by some of the country’s finest galleries, has been exhibited at numerous museums, and is in the permanent collection of the Imagine Museum and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.
Says Theofanous: “Technique merges with narratives in our work, to express metaphorical bridges between nature and human beings. Inspired by the storytelling tradition of woven tapestry and basketry, I see myself as weaving with glass to connect the viewer with the story of the natural world. Through the delicate leaves in each piece, I seek to depict the cycle of life: growth, discovery, change and renewal. I use the fluidity and fragility of glass to express the beauty and vulnerability inherent in the human experience.”
Theofanous and Bensen will have a solo exhibition at Trifecta Gallery in Lexington, Kentucky, in fall of 2023.
world-renowned glass artist located in Washington State, Phil Siegel developed his own unique understanding of flameworked glass without any formal education or apprenticeship. With an extensive background in construction and education in architecture, he challenges himself to create a relationship between fantasy and structure throughout his pieces while relating to his spiritual, intellectual, and emotional self.
Born in 1972 in Petaluma, California, Siegel developed a career as a general contractor designing and building high-end homes, working with clients from the ground up. In 2008 the economy crashed, banks stopped loaning money, and people stopped building houses. Out of work and experiencing his first winter off in years, Siegel began exploring a book he’d purchased 18 years earlier – Intro to Glassblowing by Homer Hoyt.
In 2010, at age 38, Siegel took his first classes in flameworking pipes, something he’d wanted to do since seeing basic spoon pipes at a Grateful Dead show years prior. As a busy contractor, he had no idea how pipe art had evolved over the years, and his fellow students suggested he check out Instagram for education and inspiration. Siegel eventually progressed in his own torch skills to the point where the owner of the studio where he was taking classes, Dustin Revere at Revere Glass in Berkeley, offered him a job. Siegel worked there for five months before opening his own studio. His early glass included sculptural pieces adorned in classical line work, horns, symmetrical builds that were classically inspired, and bumblebee rigs. But perhaps one of his most successful series began six years into his glass career. When Siegel’s wife suggested he make a pipe for himself, the artist created a wizard figure based on a Christmas gnome he’d made as an ornament.
He states: “I posted it as a goof really. I never thought people would enjoy it so much. But there was nobody making a wizard pipe at that time. And the more that I made, the more people requested them. It was the first time I made something that wasn’t an exercise in discipline. I came from a world that rewarded precision, symmetry, proper planning. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience making something whimsical and fun. It was hard for me to begin with. I’m thankful for the wizards more than anything, because they allowed me to find that more childlike part of myself when it comes to the creative process.”
An avid reader of Joseph Campbell, archetypes resonate with Siegel. When he noticed that pipe artists weren’t utilizing traditional art space – walls – the artist created a series of shallow shadowbox pieces featuring fish in 3D movement. These works frame pipes in a new way while telling a story. Siegel was inspired by a legend involving a huge school of golden Koi swimming upstream the Yellow River in China. Gaining strength by fighting against the current, the school glimmered as they swam together through the river. When they reached a waterfall at the end of the river, many of the Koi turned back, letting the flow of the river carry them away. The remaining Koi refused to give up. Leaping from the depths of the river, they attempted to reach the top of the waterfall to no avail. Their efforts caught the attention of local demons, who mocked their efforts and heightened the waterfall out of malice. After a hundred years of jumping, one Koi finally reached the top of the waterfall. The gods recognized the Koi for its perseverance and determination and turned it into a golden dragon, the image of power and strength.
“I’m intrigued by folklore in general because it’s specifically tailored for each culture but is also globally understood by humanity,” explains Siegel. “All cultures share archetypes – hero, martyr, pariah. These stories are universal and touch on many of the same motifs. They warn or inspire. They’re equally powerful, and people gravitate toward both.”
Describing himself as “more rigid in the way he thinks things through,” Siegel is currently working on a project that required 200 hours of prep. One of his ancient Lost Gods series, the Feathered Serpent is a prominent supernatural entity or deity, found in many Mesoamerican religions. It is still called Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs. The double symbolism used by the Feathered Serpent is considered allegoric to the dual nature of the deity, where being feathered represents its divine nature or ability to fly to reach the skies and being a serpent represents its human nature or ability to creep on the ground among other animals of the Earth, a dualism very common in Mesoamerican deities.
Says Siegel: “Snake motifs, bird motifs, these Gods are inspired by multidimensional beings that passed into this dimension to share knowledge and help humanity evolve.”
On 4/20, Siegel had a solo show at Fuego Smoke Shop called Conjuring Clouds. From January 30 – February 3, 2023, he, Lacey (Laceface) Walton, and Chris (Hickory) Vickers collaborated at the Coring Museum of Glass studio, employing advanced flameworking techniques that included complex assembly of hollow forms and finely detailed solid sculptural elements, which came together into a compositional sculpture. This work incorporated each artist’s individual style into a seamlessly blended idea. From May 18 – 20, Siegel and LaceFace will co-teach a class at Orlando Glass Union, Orlando, Florida.
Says Siegel: “The most exciting things going on in glass right now are happening in the pipe world. We are not constricted by traditional ideals of art. It’s pulled from a nexus of popular imagery from our own small community and larger cultural elements. These things aren’t really being expressed in much of any of the other glass that’s being made. The pipe community has a lot of pretty far-reaching ideas.”
For four generations, the Raiffe family toy designers and inventors used ingenuity and creativity to bring joy to others. In homage to this family tradition, Josh Raiffe carries out that mission in his own uniquely beautiful medium – hot glass. He recently caught the attention of both art and fashion lovers with his creative glass interpretation of the Coperni Swipe Bag – a modern handbag designed to adorn a subject’s hand.
Coperni approached Raiffe to create a glass bag for a photo shoot. His original design was inspired by the painting of Saint Denis of Paris. Holding his head in his hands, a halo appears where St. Denis’ head once rested. Raiffe wanted to create a glass handbag that would reveal a halo around the hand of its wearer, selecting colors to illuminate the hand as if to reveal a divinity from within.
Experimenting with glass color combinations, he applies an overlay to the inside and outside of each of his bags. The glass layers work in concert to create color combinations that are amplified through a coldworking process. The resulting objects have captured the attention of art and fashion enthusiasts alike, making the laborious process required to create them worthwhile.
Raiffe loves to create in a space where emotion and instinct supersede language and rationality. His pieces are first and foremost inspired by personal relationships and emotions such as love, conflict, anger or intimacy. He creates pieces that allow the owner/observer to feel something unique based on their own personal experiences. As an artist who celebrates self-expression, he explains: “I hope people use my work to express themselves by adorning their spaces and their bodies with objects that speak to them.”
The son of Meryl Raiffe, owner of The Glass Underground, Warren, New Jersey, Josh Raiffe earned his BFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During that time, he worked for Belle Mead Hot Glass, Township, New Jersey, producing blown chandelier parts and taught classes at the Crefeld School in Philly. Upon graduating from Tyler, he received the Steve Stormer Award and the Penland Partner Scholarship, which allowed him to attend the Penland School of Craft, Bakersfield, North Carolina. He has also been fortunate enough to attend classes at Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, and the Bullseye Resource Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Raiffe has taught glass classes at the Tyler School of Art, East Falls Glassworks in Philly, Brooklyn Glass and UrbanGlass in New York. He also assists with fabrication for glass artists Thaddeus Wolf, Rob Wynne, Mitchiko Sakano, Jamie Harris and Deborah Czeresko. As a Brooklyn-based designer, Raiffe has collaborated with DesignSpec Co-Founder Fiona Sanipelli to create original art installations for interiors projects. His work, which also includes lighting and neon, has been exhibited at Philadelphia locations such as the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Sculpture Gym, and the Spirit of the Artist, and at 555 Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts. It was featured on the pages of New Glass Review 38, The Corning Museum of Glass’ yearly survey of cutting-edge artworks made with glass. Raiffe is represented by Habatat Gallery, Piece Gallery, Strada and Hawk Gallery.
Objects become memorable when they prompt an emotional response from their audience. Though Raiffe’s glass work has been owned by celebrities such as Dojacat, Kylie Jenner, JT, Beth Dewoody, Olivia Song and Snoop Dog, he makes art to be enjoyed by the masses.
Drawing from the wild and erotic character of the natural environment, Bri Chesler’s work reflects on cultural obsessions of beauty and their relationships to internal anatomies. By fusing similar elements found in biology and botany she creates forms that flirt with the audience, exploring ideas of intimacy and desire. Known for its nontraditional approach, her work combines a variety of glass techniques with other media.
Says Chesler: “Over the last few years glass has become the focus of my material exploration. The process revolves around using your body, the momentum of its movements, and your breath to shape a form. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. A dance between artist and medium, each movement carefully caressing, convincing the glass to become something new. The reality and illusion of its fragility, its weightless transparent quality, feed into the idea of being exposed, a material, a skin, that has the ability to be both vacant and full of depth.”
She continues: “I like to maintain a glass focus while using a multidisciplinary approach, emphasizing qualities found in both materials that translate a similar idea or aesthetic. Manipulating surfaces and materials in a way that plays with the audiences’ perception allows me to develop a surreal dialog by diminishing the limitations of material identity. The cohesion of different glass techniques and other media has become something innate to my making; it’s what defines me as a glass artist. It not only allows me to explore the material in untraditional ways, but it also demonstrates and highlights the multidimensional nature of glass itself.”
Though she now lives in Seattle, Chesler credits her Palm Beach upbringing as a major influence. While Florida’s landscapes inspired the foundation for her conceptual ideas, the cultural environment informed the themes of superficial beauty, intimacy, and empathy. A product of BAK MSOA and Dreyfoos High School of the Arts, the former alum always knew her calling was a visual one. She discovered her passion for glass while studying metal and foundry processes at the Kansas City Art Institute during her undergraduate studies. The sensual and organic aesthetic of glass resonated with Chesler in a way that metal did not.
Chesler has received accolades such as the 2019 Pilchuck Emerging Artist-in-Residence award, the 2020 Hauberg Fellowship, the 2021 Glass Art Society’s Saxe Emerging Artist Award, and a Chihuly Gardens and Glass Anniversary Scholarship. In 2022, she taught as an instructor at Pilchuck Glass School and was featured in a solo exhibition, titled Untamed: The Anatomy of Desire, at the Center on Contemporary Arts in Seattle. Her works have also been exhibited at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington State and Habatat Gallery in Michigan.
DELECTABLE, a collaborative installation, is on view now through April 15 at Method Gallery. Chesler and MinHi England (Blown Away 3 finalist) bonded after learning about shared traumatic life experiences, only to realize the conceptual parallels in their artistic practice. In 2017, they founded a collaborative brand called Liquid Lush Studio and have since been collaborating artistically. Throughout that time, they have continued a partnership not only creatively but in a familial friendship. The two describe themselves as “widow wives” after caring for and witnessing cancer take the life of Jesse England. After surviving this new shared traumatic life experience, their connection grew stronger and motivated the two to continue a collaborative partnership.
Museum of Glass (MOG), Tacoma, presents a concert in the Hot Shop on April 20, featuring local music group Mirrorgloss alongside live glassblowing demonstrations led by Chesler and England. The artists will act as lead gaffers for the evening, guiding Museum of Glass Hot Shop Starter Sarah Gilbert and students from the Hilltop Artists program in creating works inspired by the music. The event is inspired by the themes of feminism and the work of powerful women-identifying and gender-expansive artists in MOG’s current exhibition She Bends: Redefining Neon Legacy.
Chesler and England will also demonstrate at the Glass Art Society Conference in Detroit, Michigan, in June 2023 as well as co-teach at OxBow School of Art, Saugatuck, Michigan, in July 2023.
Both through his own works and his activities in education, Richard Meitner has had a profoundly positive and highly visible impact on art in glass internationally. His works have been shown around the world and have been included in almost every major international museum exhibition of art in glass for the last 25 years. In spite of his considerable reknown, Meitner’s work has never been mainstream. His place is always on the outer edge of what is happening, searching, challenging, discovering, taking risks, as if he were a child at play. It is this desire to discover and speak as a child does, to learn and rejoice in that learning, but also the willingness to be caught off guard, and amazed or puzzled by experience, which has always been at the heart of his activities.
Anna Venini wrote: “The best way to express what I like most about Richard and his work is perhaps this: he lives in an extraordinary world, one that is not simply the pleasing world of fairy tales but is at the same time a breeding ground for some serious (albeit elusive) philosophical thought and research. It is from this place that he creates. It is my feeling that he has not only already accomplished great things, but has, in addition, a long career in front of him as an important artist. I come from a family of glass makers. I love Richard’s work most certainly not only for that reason, but also because Richard is able to approach that material and to use it with culture, with great fantasy and originality, with authority and great thoughtfulness. That combination is, in my experience, highly unusual.”
An artist with decades of experience and practice in art and art education, Meitner has lived in Amsterdam since 1972. He has lectured and conducted workshops in the U.S.A., Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Italy and Japan. He has been invited artist-in-residence in many countries and has worked as a designer for the glass industry in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Additionally, Meitner has served on the Dutch National Commission for Endowments for the Arts and the Dutch National Advisory Board for the Arts. Together with Mieke Groot, he was responsible from 1981 to 2000 for the glass department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In 2006, he was appointed to the faculty for Science and Technology of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (New University of Lisbon), Portugal. Meitner’s major exhibitions include a retrospective at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs of the Louvre in Paris, and solo shows at the National Museum for the History of Science and Medicine in Leiden, Netherlands, the National Glass Museum in Sunderland, England, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Corning Museum of Glass in the U.S.A. His work is included in the permanent collections of more than 60 museums in 16 countries. In 2020, the artist received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Society.
In 2016, Meitner earned a PhD in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. His doctoral thesis made the case that in education and public policy for art, the way we define, make policy for and teach art is in many respects incorrect and ineffective. He formulates his arguments citing science and many other sources that strongly suggest that we need urgently to discuss, rethink and come to much more accurate and useful understandings of what making and appreciating art are really about.
In 2023, Meitner will begin work for his upcoming solo show at Galeria Caterina Tognon in Venice during the Biennale and continue to build a working collaboration with his partner, Nataliya Vladychko, a talented Ukrainian artist. He will also carry on his work with the Vicarte Research Unit at Universidade Nova in Lisbon, i.e. working with young student artists in the Master’s degree program for the Art and Science of Glass and Ceramics.
Saya Meitner: “Helping young talented artists as a teacher is something I’ve done for many decades, and has become quite an important aspect of both my career and my life.”
Travelling the world participating in internships and workshops is the cornerstone of Sofia Villamarin’s glass experience. Her unique personal works in stained glass utilize three-dimensionality, fragmented imagery and her stunning painting abilities to express stories and reflections of self as well as her unique perspective on life.
Of Argentinian and Italian nationality, Villamarin was born in 1979 and lived in Argentina until she was 28 years old. In 2003, she graduated with a degree in Visual Communication Design, but the following year began her education in stained glass art. Awarded a scholarship to study glass painting, in 2008 Villamarin travelled to the studio of Italian artist Sante Pizzol in Milan, Italy. She also attended Vetroricerca Glas & Modern in Bolzano, Italy, garnering a more comprehensive education in glass.
Villamarin established and ran her own studio in Argentina from 2011 to 2015. The following year she went to work for The Cathedral Studios, the stained glass studio at Canterbury Cathedral, UK, followed by a stint at Barley Studio in York. Currently living in Munich, Germany, and working for Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt” GmbH, Villamarin focuses on portraiture painting on stained glass windows.
With a unique and international perspective on stained glass, Villamarin has been recognized by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning New York, in its publication of cutting-edge glass, New Glass Review 33. She is also the recipient of last year’s Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass for her work My Fragments, accompanied by an exhibition at Veste Coburg and at the European Museum of Modern Glass, Rödental, Germany. Focusing on new trends in glass art, the works of 90 international artists were on display at these venues in 2022. The highly topical objects and variety of production techniques made this show a fascinating event in the International Year of Glass.
A 2016 recipient of the Stevens Glass Artist of the Year award, Villamarin was honored, along with other students and emerging architectural glass artists, at a ceremony at Glaziers’ Hall. From a record number of high-quality entries from the UK and other international entrants, Villamarin was presented with the opportunity to design a window commemorating the lost crew of the iconic Titanic for St Mary’s Church, Southampton.
With uniquely personal works such as her painted self-portraits Time Without Time I and II; Resilience – made with glass, enamels and rope; or the many works that break free of the single flat plane of stained glass as seen in Free, Villamarin has left her mark on the world of modern stained glass. Having participated in the American Congress’ Women in Glass conference, the artist lends her voice to the independent work she designs and fabricates as well as to the work she paints for Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt” GmbH.
Charlene Foster a.k.a. Cha Cha Chainz represents the gold standard in glass chain making. A pioneer of the trend, she has been perfecting the art of flawless and seamless links since 2002. Foster has collaborated with the best in the game, building a bridge between fine art, fashion and functional glass. Her work has been featured in numerous fashion publications as she artfully merges the world of bespoke high fashion and cannabis accessories.
Born on an Air Force base in the Philippines and raised in Alaska, Foster attended the University of Alaska Anchorage studying Fine Art and Psychology. She worked for a glass artist in Anchorage whose assistant Courtney Brahnam introduced Foster to the summer session catalogs for Pilchuck, Penland and The Corning Museum of Glass. After applying and getting accepted to all three schools, Foster left home to travel the country, eventually settling in New York City in 2002. There, she began working for Michael Davis Glass on the production crew for a line of Tiffany & Company vases. Later, the artist assisted James McLeod during his fellowship at Wheaton Village, which led to her assisting a number of other instructors and eventually teaching her own class at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn. Her work was represented at SOFA New York and Chicago from 2007 to 2011 by UrbanGlass.
Over the years, Foster’s work has been featured in galleries and museums nationwide. Her glass chains have been auctioned at the National Liberty Museum, The UrbanGlass Blower’s Ball, Wheaton Arts and The Michigan Glass Project. She has collaborated with high-end pipe artists including Banjo, Salt, Rocko, Ryan Fitt and Robert Mickelson. Recent exhibitions include: 2022, Cleod Glass + Works, Charleston, SC; 2022, Pendants in Pink, Naturals Collective, Leominster, MA; 2020, Spring Equinox Show, Lifted Veil Gallery, DTLA, CA; 2019, “Garden of Eden” Zen Glass Gallery, Saint Petersburg, FL; and 2019, Molten Aura Show, Level 42, Asheville, NC.
Now based in North Carolina, Foster focuses on creating collaborative glass pieces, custom jewelry and glass joint holders she calls Stellaz for a wide range of shops across the country, and direct to customers through her website, http://www.chachachainz.com/
Architectural glass artist Elizabeth Devereaux traveled across the globe looking for an international education in art and architecture, from San Rafael to Vienna, then Munich. She founded her California studio in 1969, and more than 50 years later is an accomplished architectural glass artist with works installed all over the US and Canada.
Devereaux states: “In an architectural setting, I always like to work in a site-specific way, noting the place and region itself, as well as the architectural style the artwork is in, the light, the interior and exterior environment. I work collaboratively, which then requires me to listen to the client/committee’s story, to define their identity and understand what has meaning for them, and then to synthesize all of the information within my own style and artistic vision.”
One of Devereaux’s most notable liturgical commissions, Christ Cathedral Memorial Gardens, Garden Grove, California, is located at an architectural pilgrimage destination. The Cathedral buildings are designed by three of the 20th century’s most significant architects – Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra, and Richard Meier. The new Memorial Gardens’ focus was to be “The Risen Christ” worshiped by two angels. It needed to be highly visible from the exterior, giving reference to life’s journey and connecting Baptism (in the Cathedral) to death and resurrection (in the Mausoleum). Relying on reflective light, 24-carat gold luster paint allowed the windows to be clearly seen from the Cathedral opposite, as well as in the Mausoleum, which was flanked by 12 large panels of amber stained and shaded clear glass. These 12 panels were fabricated by Derix Studio in Germany; the rest of the commission was fabricated in Devereaux’s Chico studio. Forty-four clerestory windows created in mouthblown cobalt streaky on clear German Lamberts glass link the interior rooms. Between each are prisms referring to the tower at the Cathedral.
In another major liturgical project, at Our Lady of New Clairvaux Abbey, Vina, California, Devereaux expressed The Cistercian charism of simplicity in a contemporary style with a reference to its ancient history. The new monastery at New Clairvaux was originally a 12th-century monastery in Northern Spain. In the early 1930s William Randolph Hearst bought the monastery and imported it to California. Shortly afterwards, the Great Depression and World War II made it impossible for Hearst to build it, and he deeded it to the City of San Francisco. There it languished for 40 years behind the De Young Museum until Father Thomas Davis, a young monk newly arrived to the New Clairvaux Monastery, heard the story and had a vision of acquiring the stones for the new Abbey. The Abbey consulted with British and Spanish historians, and hired German stone carvers to re-form and recut the missing stones.
The art glass in 12-century European Cistercian monasteries is abstract, simple, and often soft amber and white in color. Devereaux’s windows appear simple at first glance, but in fact, are complex in their fabrication. The Fremont Antique glass was custom mouthblown to shade from white opak to clear, allowing the exterior landscape to be part of the design. It was also painted and kiln-fired with amber stain, then intersected vertically with handmade prisms. Since the monks worship during the day and night, the artist painted and fired a reflective 24-carat gold luster pattern onto the surface, bringing the translation of New Clairvaux or “Valley of Light” to life.
In San Francisco, for Noe Valley Ministry’s Coming to the Center window, Devereaux selected triple-flashed, mouth-blown glass, which was etched to the clear layer to portray the constellations. The transition from “sky” to “center” was accomplished by selecting custom blown rose to clear and purple to aqua glass. This allowed the glass to be sprayed and fired with orange luster, creating the subtle transition from lavender to amber. The amber “center” was leaded and laminated front and back with lead “overlay” “branches” to reference beloved artist Ruth Azawa’s twig-like cross in the sanctuary. The center spiral links to the labyrinth in the space.
Devereaux explains: “I always loved transparency—working with watercolor, silkscreen, overlaying color. When I discovered glass, I realized the incredible aspects of painting with light. Mouth-blown textures and color can be designed to meet direct sunlight and be projected in mysterious ways across the interior space. Or if the window is facing an unwanted view, it is possible to use translucent glass, allowing light in, but not the view or the glare. I also love the use of reflective materials, polished metals, in conjunction with glass, but sometimes mirror, and 24-carat gold, silver, and platinum lusters sprayed and fired onto glass. This allows the window to have a nightlife, different from the day. I also love pattern, making a “logo” or distillation of the meaning of the commission, then repeating it into a fabric woven into the artwork.”
Devereaux has always been active in her architectural and liturgical communities, serving on the National Advisory Board of Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture (IFRAA), a Knowledge Community of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) from 2009- 2014 and as a Juror for Faith & Forum/ IFRAA Religious Art & Awards, Seattle, WA, 2005. Her own IFRAA and Faith and Form awards include: 2018 Honor Award for Religious Art in New Clairvaux Abbey, Vina, CA; 2018 Codaworx Liturgical Art Award, Holy Family Catholic Church, Fond du Lac, WI.; 2008 Design Merit Award, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Westlake Village, CA; 2006 Design Honor Award, Blessed Trinity, Frankenmuth, MI; 1992 Visual Arts Award, St. Joseph Cathedral, San Jose, CA. She has also been presented with Ministry & Liturgy Annual Visual Art Awards, Bene & Best of Show in 2008, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1992.
Devereaux’s non-liturgical commissions are numerous and include New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, Las Vegas, New Mexico, for which she won a Public Art Award; George Sim Community Center, Sacramento, California, Public Art Award; and Chico City Plaza, Chico, California, Design consultant team and Public Art Award. Her present commission is Dignity French Hospital Swanson Chapel in San Luis Obispo, CA, and includes 700 square feet of laminated art glass.
Devereaux and her studio crew – Owen Gabbert, longtime project manager, Marie Swanson, Devereaux’s son, Chris Tallant, and nephew, Abraham Devereaux – are responsible for many public art, hospital, and corporate commissions. Though her studio’s main focus remains liturgical commissions, every window designed is site specific and custom made for that specific place. Devereaux knows how to listen and let inspiration find her, in a melding of her talent with the soul of each location.
Capitalizing on the ways glass can be arranged in and flows from a crucible, Nathan Sandberg creates reproducible decorative cane and murrine using the Vitrigraph Kiln. His work showcases these elements in a variety of artistic applications and furnishings. When not in his North Portland studio creating work or getting ready for an exhibition, Sandberg can be found presenting modern, innovative curriculum in kilnformed glass at a wide variety of studios and schools around the globe.
In 2003, Sandberg received his BFA in glass and ceramics from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. After working at private glassblowing studios and independently furthering his education in kiln-glass, he joined Bullseye Glass Co. in 2005. As a member of the company’s Research & Education team, he taught and developed courses and online educational videos as well as assisted visiting artists. Beginning at the Bullseye factory in 2009, the artist began exploring modern Vitrigraph methods that have become the primary techniques used in the creation of his work.
Sandberg creates glass panes that are full of movement and repeated patterns that gently guide the viewer’s eyes through the work. He states: “Our world is complex. And I realize that occasionally we simply need a pleasant view in order to escape some of the ugliness and take ourselves somewhere healthier, even if only for a moment.”
In 2012, Sandberg founded Nathans LLC. This educational entrepreneurship helped establish him as one of the top kiln-glass educators in the world, sending him on teaching adventures from Santa Fe to Zurich and Australia to Norway. In 2015, Nathans LLC moved out of the basement and into a proper studio space in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. Today, Sandberg uses OnGrade Studio as his home base and can be found there relentlessly producing work for exhibitions and developing new curriculum to teach on the road and online.
Using primarily glass, Sandberg’s installations commonly make use of other materials such as wood, metal and concrete. His artwork can be found in private and public collections around the world and has received critical recognition through awards, exhibitions, and art fairs, including Glazen Huis in Lommel, Belgium, 2nd Place Non-Functional, Academic Award WG@BE3: E-merge, Bullseye Connection Gallery and SOFA Chicago. Sandberg worked with Gabriela Wilson as part of an Instructor Collaborative Residency at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass in September 2019. The duo explored the traditional hot shop methods of pulling cane to compare and contrast the process with Vitrigraph methods.
Currently, Sandberg operates an 8’ x 10’ waterjet two days a week and says this equipment will revolutionize what is possible in kilnformed glass. The artist is also in the design phase of a glass shingle backsplash for a 30-foot-tall residential waterfall project. His artwork will be on view at Guardino Gallery in Portland in September 2023 and in October at the Pittsburgh Glass Center with Amanda Simmons, Nancy Callan, Mel Douglas and Corey Pemberton in an exhibition titled Pattern.
Exploring the separation between reality and the imaginary through the use of miniatures and glass sculpture, John Sharvin draws the viewer into a new and intimate realm, reminiscent of a shadowbox or dollhouse. These dreamlike worlds create deceptive memories and locations for the viewer to reflect on as recollection of a place or memory is often distorted through the lens of time. One wonders what is conjured and what is true.
Working in glass since late 2008, Sharvin graduated from The Ohio State University in 2012 with a BFA in glass. He stayed in Columbus for a few years working in galleries, doing public glass demonstrations and tutoring students until he took a technician apprenticeship at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) in 2014. There, he curated his first exhibition, Silica Valley, for which he developed a theme, selected the artists, titled the exhibition, and did all of the installation and lighting. The result was a show that revealed the possibilities of combining an ancient material like glass with 21st-century processes like 3D printing.
Utilizing digital fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and CNC milling in his own work, Sharvin creates unique and unexpected forms in glass that include not only surrealist landscapes and motifs, but glass animals infused with detail, realism, and a hint of cuteness. He has exhibited at several galleries including Fuller Craft Museum, Lake Erie Art Museum, and Hawk Galleries, and his work has been published in New Glass Review and Dwell Magazine.
Following two successful seasons of Blown Away, Sharvin applied to be cast in Season 3. Nine other contestants joined him at North America’s largest hot shop in Hamilton, Ontario, to create and exhibit glass work directed by briefs that included topics such as outer space, the circus, and Seven Deadly Sins. In each episode, the glassblowers had to impress the evaluators or risk being eliminated. At stake was a life-changing prize that could send their careers to new heights.
Sharvin states: “Things were not going my way, and I saw this as a great opportunity to change up my life.”
Participating in the six-week show required Sharvin and the other contestants to come up with a fully articulated design, talk about it, write about it and then make it in “the hottest studio” ever. Competing against each other for $60,000 in prizes, the contestants filmed 10 episodes in succession, getting only one day off during the six-week shoot due to the tight production schedule.
Sharvin said: “Being a contestant on Blown Away Season 3 was an incredible experience. It was hot and challenging but was a truly life-changing time for me.”
Leaving his full-time employment at PGC in mid 2022 to be a full-time artist, Sharvin now applies to public art projects and is establishing his CNC mold-making business. His current work is on view now in UNDEFINED, which runs until July 30, 2023, at PGC, along with the work of fellow Blown Away Season 3 contestants John Moran and Minhi England.
In 2021, Sharvin, England, and Moran were gathered in a backstage production set with seven other familiar faces. Each participant was invited to compete hoping to find new opportunities and to open creative pathways into new beginnings. Five weeks later, these three were the remaining finalists. Though Sharvin, England and Moran initially came together as competitors, their shared experiences on the show influenced comradery and mutual support. Since the premiere of the series, they have stayed in touch artistically through PGC’s Artist Residency program, giving them an opportunity to collaborate as artists. This collaborative exhibition contradicts the notion of competition in the glass world.
With her unique sculptural works, Ann Wolff holds a distinguished place as one of the world’s leading artists working with glass. She applies her strongly personal approach to bronze, aluminum and concrete sculpture, as well as to drawing, pastel work and photography. From April through October 2022, Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, one of Sweden’s most popular art museums, presented a solo exhibition of Wolff’s work in several techniques and media from the year 2000 until the present day. VOGUE Scandinavia nominated the show as one of the 10 best fall exhibitions in Scandinavia. It was also the largest showing of her work presented in Sweden.
Wolff states: “I have seen my works in painting, stone, bronze, concrete, and glass as equal in status. Sometimes I feel that my strongest works might be in paper, charcoal and pastels.”
She continues: “I feel as a human being out of time. The notion of self and hence identity, grips me, disturbs me and motivates me. Everything comes from that. My interest in the self includes the others. It is clear that in the way that one carries out one’s work, something like a self expresses itself. And this self is guided by constantly developing insights. The insights can be very unclear but can still be the inspiration behind a work. I am testing out old questions of identity; be it inside-outside, symmetry, layers and core, number two and the double, the goat and the monkey. Moments of recognition are what my work needs, they propel me forward. Collected moments of clarity become knowledge.”
Born in Germany in 1937, Wolff studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (University of Design and Art) in Ulm, Germany, then worked as a designer in Sweden. For many years, she designed for the Kosta Boda glassworks, during which time she also pursued an independent career as a studio artist. Currently living and working on the Baltic island of Gotland, Sweden, she is the recipient of several internationally prestigious distinctions including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Glass Art Society and the PRO EUROPA Foundation’s European Culture Prize. She has been honored with numerous international awards, among them the renowned Coburger Glaspreis (1977), the Bayerischen Staatspreis (1988), the Jurypreis of the Toledo Museum of Art (2005), and the Award of Excellence of the Smithsonian Renwick Collection, Washington, DC (2008). The Swedish Royal family has acquired several of her works.
As one of the founders of the international Studio Glass movement, Wolff was at the center of attention as early as end of the 1960s. Her initiation into the American Studio Glass movement came at the invitation of Marvin Liposfsky and Dale Chihuly. Early days at Pilchuck sharing ideas and techniques revealed to her a new reality – one in which she was respected as an artist not a designer.
Wolff States: “The Studio Glass movement from the United States burst in on my work – my isolation – in the mid 1960s. I was astonished and thrilled by the freedom with which glass was handled there. An immense curiosity about the unused potential and the broad possibilities of the new material for art: glass. It has to fit into the framework of art in general, though. For me, art is the deciding factor. The path I took shows that I intensely wanted to express my life in pictures, clarify things for myself. Of course, I could have started in a quite different medium – painting, sculpture, film – but it became glass.”
In her 50-year career, Wolff repeatedly created works that made people think. With glass, she allowed the world to glance at her esthetic sentimentality, and she also created homogenous objects. Ever recurring themes predominant in her work are womanhood and habitation expressed through objects that are mostly monochrome, often in warm earthy tones. Dance-theater was a strong inspiration, and she was allowed to attend rehearsals with Pina Bausch, made views from what she saw there and then formed glass objects.
Wolff brings out the special characteristics of glass: contours, surfaces, the relation between inside and outside. She makes inner landscapes visible. What lies behind the mask? The artist has asked herself this question again and again over the years. The psychology behind the facade is a regular theme of her works. Investigating further the subject of Wolff’s blown and engraved bowls and cast sculptures, one finds that the relationships between women as friends, and as mothers and daughters, and the role of women in society deeply concern her. She writes: “It is natural to take oneself as one’s starting point. The situation of women partly determines who I am and leads me to pose particular questions.”
Daniel Collins has spent more than 20 years directing award-winning documentary films that examine the untold stories of innovative artists, unsung activists, and underground subcultures. He has strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement. He began his filmmaking career at the Delaware-based nonprofit media initiative Hearts and Minds Film in 2001, founded Dan Collins Media in 2014, and launched Fire Team Films, which focuses exclusively on glass-related content, in 2022.
In October, Collins’ latest film Slinger debuted on Amazon and Vimeo on Demand. Aaron Golbert, aka Marble Slinger, embodies the artistic evolution and cultural revolution of the American glass pipe movement. He began making pipes in the 1990s, learning well-kept craft secrets from a few generous mentors, at a time when making “drug paraphernalia” could still land you in jail. Now, 25 years later, he is revered for his unique and ever-changing pipe aesthetics, his bold forays into the world of pop-art (especially his “Assault Girl” designs; Warhol-inspired mashups of the Morton Salt Logo), and perhaps above all for his documentary film, Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes (2012). This groundbreaking film premiered at the legendary SXSW Film Festival and enjoyed a two-year run as a top-ranked documentary on Netflix, giving audiences around the world the first detailed look into the underground glass pipe subculture.
Says Slinger: “I’ve always seen glass pipe making as an extension of legalization activism, a protest, saying we believe that cannabis is beautiful!”
Slinger studied film at Ithaca College in upstate New York, but when he first glimpsed the mysterious glass pipes that began popping up on Grateful Dead and Phish tour in the mid-90s he was hooked. Devoted to outlaw cannabis culture, and hungry for an alternative to mainstream life, Slinger headed to Seattle to learn the art of pipe making. He has since become an artistic icon in a scene which has turned into a billion-dollar industry. This film tells the story of his life’s journey in a deep, personal way, while following him through a frigid Philadelphia winter as he prepares for a rare solo exhibition in sunny California. Directed by long-time friend and award- winning filmmaker Collins, the film offers a unique glimpse into Slinger’s world, inviting audiences to intimately experience the many challenges an artist faces in the pursuit of passion.
“You don’t need to go to film school, you need to live a life worthy of making a film about:” states Slinger.
Collins is best known in the glass-pipe community for being the editor of Marble Slinger’s opus Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes(2012). He has since gone on to direct three more feature-length glass documentaries: Project 33 (2017): chronicling the work of Oregon Artist Marcel Braun; Art That Gives Back (2023): the story of the Michigan Glass Project, which will release at their event in September 2023; and most recently Slinger (2022): a portrait of the artist who originally introduced Collins to the world of glass art.
Currently in production on two exciting new documentary films about glass, Collins journeyed to the outskirts of Havana to document the nascent studio glass movement in Cuba, and hopes to complete his film, ¡FUEGO! soon.
Find the trailer here: https://youtu.be/UlKsyWLOqkY
Beginning in January 2023, Collins turned his lens on American glass master Paul Stankard, to produce an intimate artist portrait with the help of Stankard’s long-time colleague, David Graeber.
Collins’ work has won many awards, premiered at prestigious festivals, and been distributed internationally. He is also a published poet, recording artist, and faculty member at the traditional-arts nonprofit organization Common Ground on the Hill (McDaniel College, Westminster, MD) where he is the co-founder of the Common Ground Veterans Initiative, a program that promotes healing through the arts for combat veterans.
Comprised of hundreds of objects fabricated using multiple glass processes, Between Seeing and Knowing is a large-scale, site-specific installation by artists Anna Boothe and Nancy Cohen. The installation is on view now through February 5, 2023 at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin. Created as part of a collaborative residency that took place at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in 2012, the artwork has been previously exhibited at Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Philadelphia’s International Airport.
At its core, Between Seeing and Knowing is the result of both artists’ long-standing interest in and in-depth study of Tibetan Buddhist thangka paintings and the integration of their otherwise very separate studio practices. Thangkas are ordered cosmological paintings, often scrolls, created for the purpose of meditation and composed of numerous visual elements. This installation reinterprets the symbolism in the paintings to create new work that reflects the organizational structure and palette of the paintings, as well as the sense of expansiveness and lack of hard resolution characteristic of Buddhist ideology.
Boothe and Cohen state: “Overall, through this collaboration, its subject matter, and our chosen methodology, we seek to understand, both visually and viscerally, another cultural perspective or expression unlike our own, through our dissection and re-assemblage of elements unique to that culture. Just as collaboration brings forth the opportunity for a deep exchange of ideas and the development of sympathetic approaches to doing what one does, pragmatically and metaphorically, this is our attempt at bridging gaps between cultural approaches to explain the unexplainable.”
With degrees in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design and glass from Tyler School of Art/Temple University, Boothe has worked with glass since 1980. Included in the permanent collections of CMoG, Racine Art Museum and Tacoma Museum of Art, her cast glass work has been exhibited widely, including recently at the Albuquerque Art Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and the Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace in Venice, as well as at several villas in Italy’s Veneto Region.
Boothe taught in Tyler’s glass program for 16 years, helped develop and chaired Salem Community College’s glass art program and has exhibited and/or lectured internationally in Australia, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, as well as at numerous US universities and glass-focused schools. She served on the Board and as President of the Glass Art Society from 1998-2006 and is a former Director of Glass at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum.
With an MFA in Sculpture from Columbia University and a BFA in Ceramics from Rochester Institute of Technology, Cohen has been working with glass (among other materials) since 1990. Her work examines resiliency in relation to the environment and the human body. Cohen’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States and is represented in collections such as The Montclair Museum, The Weatherspoon Art Gallery, and The Zimmerli Museum. She has completed large-scale, site-specific projects for The Staten Island Botanical Garden, The Noyes Museum of Art, The Katonah Museum, Howard University, and others.
Recent solo exhibitions include Walking a Line at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Chelsea, New York, and Nancy Cohen: Atlas of Impermanence at the Visual Arts Center in Summit, New Jersey. Group exhibitions include All We Can Save: Climate Conversations at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Pennsylvania, and ReVision and Respond at The Newark Museum. Cohen is a 2022 recipient of a Mid-Atlantic Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She currently teaches drawing and sculpture at Queens College.
In a review of Boothe and Cohen’s collaborative project, Elizabeth Crawford of N.Y Arts Magazine, wrote: : “Intuitively proximate to Buddhist philosophy, the piece is about the inter-relatedness of things. Each glass part appears sentient and in direct communication with the others. In a Thangka painting, none of the forms are meant to be isolated but work together to invite the viewer to take the painting in at once, as a whole. Similarly, all of the pieces in Boothe and Cohen’s installation contribute to a sense of continuous breath or movement which is enhanced by light reflecting through the glass.” For this innovative work the artists used an astounding range of glass processes including kiln-casting, slumping, fusing, blowing, hot-sculpting and sand-casting.
This year, flameworking pioneer Paul Stankard will celebrate his 80th birthday. To commemorate more than six decades at the torch, the artist joined Talking Out Your Glass podcast for a return visit featuring a discussion about his contributions to glass and art, including his new book, Inspiration from the Art of Paul J. Stankard: A Window into My Studio and Soul.
Jack Wax, artist and head of the glass department at The Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, wrote the following about Stankard’s latest and fourth book:
“Paul Joseph Stankard is the living master of the art of the botanical paperweight. There ought not to be any argument as to where he stands in the history of this endeavor, an undertaking that dates back to the mid-19th century and the famed Venetian glassmaker Pietro Bigaglia. He has, as a noted autodidact, aimed at elevating the production of these objects to stratospheric heights. His patient and long-term focus on capturing the subtle beauty of blossoms before they fade, and of bouquets that never wilt, has brought to the world marvels of observation, obsession, fixation, and, importantly, of invention. There is a tendency for people to gaze in wonder and become infatuated when encountering “impossible objects” for the first time. This has been his purview.
That said, becoming a master in the world of 21st-century decorative art production might not ensure that your corollary endeavors—writing poetry and laying out the inexorably tied-up nature of beauty’s role in the success of an artwork—needs to be shared with posterity. Stankard’s voice is sincere and heartfelt. His choice of words is deeply weighed, his phrasing and pacing seriously considered. He is, after all, attempting to distill, out of the quickly dispersing mists of creativity, an essence, a tincture that will contain some drops of truth. That can, at times, become a dangerous area to interpret and translate for a broad swath of the population. Being great at one thing in no way guarantees that one is good at another…
If you pick this book up, you will assuredly spend time considering the beauty of Paul Stankard’s botanical images in glass. He is a genuinely passionate, sincerely earnest maker who cares deeply for the natural world and has devoted a lifetime to the true intricacies of what is visible—and what is not—for those who persevere and cultivate what may be revealed in the application of an extraordinarily sustained and amplified focus.”
Considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, Stankard’s work is represented in more than 75 museums around the world. Over his 40-year artistic journey, he has received two honorary doctorate degrees, an honorary associate’s degree, and many awards within the glass community, most recently the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian’s The James Renwick Alliance and the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the UrbanGlass Award—Innovation in a Glassworking Technique.
In 1961, Stankard enrolled in Salem County Vocational Technical Institute’s Scientific Glassblowing program (now Salem Community College). During his subsequent 10-year scientific glassblowing career, fabricating complex instruments was his focus. As head of the glass department at Rohn & Haas in Philadelphia, the artist began experimenting with floral paperweights as a hobby. The work was eventually noticed by art dealer Reese Palley at a craft expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in 1972, Stankard abandoned industry for art.
Stankard’s role as educator includes establishing the flameworking studio at Penland School of Craft, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and serving as a founding board member and President of The Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, New Jersey. The artist taught students in the US at Penland; the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington; and abroad at Kanaz Forest of Creation Japan with Hiroshi Yamano as well as at North Lands Creative, in the Scottish Highlands. He remains an Artist-in-Residence and Honorary Professor at Salem Community College, where he founded the International Flameworking Conference.
Now dividing his time between flameworking and writing, Stankard is the author of Inspiration from the Art of Paul J. Stankard: A Window into My Studio and Soul; an autobiography No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass; an educational resource Spark the Creative Flame: Making the Journey from Craft to Art; and Studio Craft as Career: A Guide to Achieving Excellence in Art-making.
In March 2023, Stankard will once again attend the International Flameworking Conference (IFC). He will also be instructing a workshop with Lucio Bubacco in May. IFC details are at www.salemcc.edu/ifc and workshop info is at https://salemcc.edu/glass/intensive-glass-workshop
In celebration of his 80th birthday, WheatonArts will host a Celebration of the Life & Work of Paul J. Stankard, Saturday, May 20, 2023. Click link below for the latest information. Campus-wide activities will be highlighted by collaborative Glass Studio demonstrations with Stankard and friends, curator tours of the Museum of American Glass featuring Amber Cowan’s solo exhibit Alchemy of Adornment, and special fare catered by Feast Your Eyes Catering. Proceeds benefit the WheatonArts Glass Studio programs. Dan Collins – documentary filmmaker with strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass Movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement – filmed Stankard for a documentary that will be shown in May at the WheatonArts event. The film includes the artist creating a piece from his Celestial Bouquet series. Stankard’s work will be exhibited at the Morris Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, in Morristown, New Jersey, in early 2023.
Seattle based artist working in glass and metal, MiNHi England was a finalist in Season 3 of the Blown Away series, which premiered on Netflix in July of 2022. She worked her way into the hearts of viewers with stunning glass design and technique as seen in works such as The Spectacular Bearded Dragon Lady or her collaborative installation with fellow contestant Dan Friday called One Million Scovilles.
Having earned her BFA from Alfred University in 2010, England has worked as a professional glassblower at numerous studios throughout the greater Seattle area. She now runs a hotshop named Liquid Lush Studio with her friend Bri Chesler, where the two friends create strange but beautiful glass-blown pieces that can be sold as gifts. The Seattle-based personality also continues in her roles as production manager at Artful Ashes and instructor at Pratt Fine Arts Center. With England’s current individual art practice focused heavily on her recent young widow status, she learns to navigate overwhelming loss, grief and life altering transition.
In 2012, Minhi met and married her late husband Jesse England at Pilchuck. The two bonded over a shared passion for combining glass and metal in a contemporary and conceptual fashion. Originally from Kansas, Jesse earned his BFA in Sculpture and Glass from Emporia State University in 2007. In 2013, he earned an MFA in Sculpture and Glass from the University of Texas at Arlington. Soon after meeting, Jesse and Minhi established an artist compound in which friends and colleagues could live and work. They eventually partnered with Artful Ashes to create iconic glass memorials.
In 2019, Jesse was diagnosed with MPNST (malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor). To help fight the cancer, Jesse underwent a few different procedures including a below the knee amputation, radiation, chemotherapy, and trial drugs. Sadly, however, he passed away 18 months after his diagnosis and nine months after he and Minhi married.
Despite his poor health, Jesse and Minhi married on September 5, 2020. Minhi wore a $30-dress and cowboy boots she got when the couple went on their first trip to Texas. In an Instagram post, she talked about the impact Jesse had on her life. “You have believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, encouraged me, and lifted me up in my darkest days. We’ve shared some of my most cherished memories, and you will forever have my whole heart. You have shown me abundant generosity and kindness despite my many shortcomings. I am grateful for your bountiful love and devotion.”
From the depths of grief, England gathered her strength and faced new challenges before the eyes of the world. She joined the cast of Blown Away – the Netflix reality competition series that she and Jesse used to watch together. She said: “Jesse was the one who encouraged me to do it. That was his last gift to me.”
Along with the great success Minhi experienced on Blown Away, the artist has been awarded several artist residencies including the Hauberg Residency at Pilchuck Glass School, the Hilltop Artists Residency in Tacoma, and she has exhibited work at Bellevue Art Museum. Presently, she has an upcoming immersive gallery installation set to open in early 2023 at Method Gallery in Seattle as well as a group exhibition with fellow Blown Away artists John Sharvin and John Moran titled, Undefined, opening on February 3 at Pittsburgh Glass Center Gallery.
England states: “When I use glass in my work, I find myself personifying the material, giving it permission to embody self. The unique properties of hot glass allow me to generate a sense of vitality when I force my own breath inside. This action further connects me to the process. Although I set the stage, there are moments that happen outside of my control, metaphorically illustrating the human experience. Choosing when to relinquish control creates opportunity for evolution.”