Paul Messink’s multilayered kilnformed glass panels draw the viewer into an ethereal and ghostly landscape that represents the uncertainty of life and its myriad directions. Transforming a painting, an historically two-dimensional art form, into a three-dimensional scene with depth and perspective, Messink poses questions about choices and pathways via scenes obscured and enhanced by the mystery of fog and mist.
Frequently asked if a photograph has been embedded in his layers of glass, Messink actually creates his imagery by applying glass enamels and fusing. The artist creates depth by layering the glass, diminishing the size and color of his subject matter, and manipulating texture and translucence. Messink typically uses between nine and 12 layers of glass that are kilncast into one solid panel.
Formerly an IT project manager in Chicago, Messink is currently based out of Palm Desert, California, with studios in both Palm Desert and the nearby Coachella Valley Art Center in Indio, California. While mostly self-taught, workshops of artists such as Susan Taylor Glasgow, Richard LaLonde, Mark Salsbury, Annette Baron, and Don Schneider helped him refine and advance his technique. Messink now teaches his process around the country to other artists and kilnworkers looking for more expressive approaches in glass.
Messink was awarded “Best in Glass” in the 2012 and 2014 Royal Oak Clay, Glass and Metal show, Royal Oak, Michigan, and was awarded “Multi-Media Artist of the Year” in the Art Comes Alive 2013 competition, Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2014 he received a category award in The Glass Prize 2014, sponsored by Warm Glass UK, and was also awarded "Best in Show" at GATHERING: Contemporary Glass from the Heartland, sponsored by the Indiana Glass Art Alliance. In 2015 he took home the "People's Choice Award in Glass" at the 3rd Brea Clay and Glass Exhibit, in Brea CA. Messink has participated in numerous group shows around the country.
Award winning artist/designer Peter McGrain has been working with stained glass for over 30 years. During this time he has handled every type of stained glass project imaginable, ranging in scope from intimate experimental panels to large scale architectural installations. The book Uncommon Stained Glass charts McGrain's journey from crafter to award-winning artist.
In 1990 McGrain's panel "Shrimping the Spring Tide" was honored by the World Glass Congress as the finest example of stained glass created anywhere on earth during the 1980s. The artist expanded his worldwide notoriety through the creation of exhibition showpieces designed and fabricated for Kokomo Opalescent Glass Works and the Paul Wissmach Glass Co.
Since the development of McGrain's Vitri Fusaille process - a hybrid of glass fusing and traditional glass painting - demand for his workshops has been on the rise along with increased gallery interest. His piece "Man with Fish" appeared in New Glass Review 26, the Corning Museum’s annual survey of avant-garde glass. In 2012, McGrain proved to himself and the world that Vitri Fusaille could also be used in the creation of architectural work as seen in his commission for the Jewish Home in Rochester, New York, his home town.
I met McGrain in the late 1980s. In fact, he was one of the first artists about whom I wrote a major feature for Glass Art magazine. I had seen his work for the Strassenburgh Planetarium in Rochester and thought it was not only cutting-edge in terms of design and execution, but far superior to much of the stained glass of the day.
The recipient of the American Glass Guild’s 2014 Joseph Barnes Lifetime Achievement Award, McGrain has always been in demand as a teacher, lecturer, and author of books and journal articles, including his current ongoing series for Glass Art magazine on traditional glass painting. McGrain is grateful to stained and fused glass pioneer Dan Fenton for inviting him to teach his first workshop, sparking the discovery of the joy of sharing knowledge and information with students all over the world.
In this conversation, McGrain discusses his early history, his teaching philosophies, and his best works. We’ll even hear an original song!