Lucio Bubacco travels around Murano and frequently to Venice in his gondola, rowing a la valesanato power himself across the lagoon. A favorite pastime since childhood, journeying along the canals recharges his creativity and provides “vitamins” for his soul. Movement also defines his energetic flameworked sculpture, alive in terms of frozen action, but also anatomical perfection.
Born on the Italian island of Murano in 1957, Bubacco has been flameworking glass since he was a boy, beginning with small animals and beads. A fascination with equine and human anatomy inspired him to push beyond the perceived technical limitations of his craft to combine the anatomic perfection of Greek sculpture with the Byzantine gothic architecture of Venice. “Seductive motifs such as metamorphosis and transformation echo themes from our mythological past when sexuality was spiritual, not political.”
Bubacco’s large freestanding sculptures, worked hot and annealed during the process, are unique in lampworking. They are made from 104 COE Murano soda glass canes. The epitome of detailed elaboration and narrative content, his mini-installations can be seen in collections worldwide including Musee Atelier du Verre, Sars-Poteries, France; The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Museo del Vidrio, Monterrey, Mexico; and Museo del Vetro, Murano, Italy.
Though formerly represented by Habatat Galleries, Michigan, in 2002 Bubacco stopped his gallery relationships to devote himself full time to teaching, primarily at his Scuola Bubacco onMurano. In 2019, he will teach three courses in March, May, and at summer’s end.The artist will also exhibit new work at a Roman theater in Pamukkale, Turkey. New technically challenging, mythological chandelier commissions are underway. Recently the artist collaborated with Alessandro Cuccato (Vetroricerca Bolzano) on a bas-relief sculpture for a mega yacht that pays homage to Troy. To realize this work, Bubacco developed a hybrid technique combining flameworking with fusing.
Last winter a skiing accident kept Bubacco from his studio, during which time he completed two books. Muranfeatures 170 original Bubacco watercolor paintings depicting the history of Muranese glass, and Lucio Bubacco: Eroticswith essays by Andrew Page, Klaus Weschenfelder, and Steffen John, was introduced at GAS Murano in May 2018. Also available is Lucio Bubacco, Eternal Temptation,a one-of-a-kind book that combines a minimalist layout with luxury materials and texts by Dan Klein and Cristina Gregorin.
Cheyenne Malcolm manages a delicate balancing act between blowing glass for his personal line of sculptural vessels and building hot shop furnaces, annealers, and glory holesfor other studios, which finances his artwork. By founding Canned Heat Glass Studios, Milwaukie, Oregon, the artist discovered that developing and fabricating state-of-the-art equipment for other glassblowers is an art unto itself.
An accomplished glassblower with over two decades of experience, Malcolm’s involvement with the molten medium runs the gamut from production blowing for Robert Held Art Glass in Vancouver to assisting Richard Jolley in Knoxville, Tennessee, with his massive figurative hot glass Subsequent studies with artists such as Karen Willenbrink Johnsen and Martin Janecký, plus work with Lynn Read at Vitreluxe, Portland, Oregon, helps to form Malcolm’s informal but incomparable education in glass.
“I am a process driven artist. My career in glass has always been studio based. Learning different techniques and styles from different artists as I worked for them throughout the years has helped me understand glass and its myriad possibilities. I am still very intrigued by this demanding and unforgiving medium.”
Throughout the career of a working artist, documentation and cataloging of work can take a back seat to other more pressing business, such as making and selling work. Such was the case with Malcolm, who, during his down time from Canned Heat, is creating for himself a personal retrospective collection of work he sold but failed to photograph.
Career choices of glassblowers are often defined by the high cost of hot glass. In 2006 Malcolm sold his Vetro Vita glass studio in Portland, Oregon, and invested those earnings in Canned Heat, where he now spends 80 percent of his time. As the company builds one of the world’s largest glass studios in Asia, Malcolm added a hot shop studio at Canned Heat, where he and his glass artist employees can continue their own research and development.
It’s interesting to contemplate why Claire Kelly’s colorful and expertly patterned toy-like animals are so appealing, but perhaps more curious to imagine is what theywould see in us. Much of her recent work centers on elephants because of their unique role as a beloved childhood toy, a popular decorative figure with a strong history in glassmaking, and a perilously threatened species.
In work that examines the connections humanity has with animals and our larger relationship to the world, the artist has created a series of fantastic microcosms that bring a consciousness to their decorative status. As a story about the fragility and conservation of these small worlds is told, their role in a grander scheme is revealed.
“We live in a time when our smallest decisions can affect our environment in unpredictable ways. As a conscientious inhabitant, I am constantly weighing my choices and attempting to choose the lesser evil. My works are a gentle mirror allowing us to examine our contradictory world.”
Graduating with a BFA from Alfred University in 1996, Kelly subsequently worked collaboratively with Anthony Schafermeyer from 2000 to 2008 as Schafermeyer/Kelly Glass. In 2008, she moved to Providence, Rhode Island, to assist glass artist Toots Zynsky with her work. During this time, Kelly developed her own sculptural series integrating traditional Venetian glassblowing and various cold working processes. Greatly influenced by the unconventional forms and patterning of mid-century Venetian Masters such as Napoleone Martinuzzi and Carlo Scarpa as well as contemporary masters Dick Marquis and Zynsky, Kelly works with cane and murrini techniques in a unique exploration of line, pattern, and color.
In spring of 2017, Kelly worked as Artist in Residence at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, where she created a new body of work using specialty 104 COE glass from Effetre, a glass company based in Murano, Italy. The artist has recently been awarded residencies at Salem Art Works Salem, New York,and at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, to further her processes and designs.
From October 12 through December 10 new work was exhibited, and Kelly presented a lecture and demonstration at Duncan McClellan Glass Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida, in a show with friend and hot glass artist Jen Violette titled Vibrant Perspectives. Penland Gallery, Penland, North Carolina, Vetri gallery, Seattle, Washington, and Montague Gallery in San Francisco, California, also represent Kelly’s work.
A self described “unexpected instructor,” Kelly has taught workshops at Penland School of Crafts, Pilchuck Glass School, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Centro Fundacion del Vidrio in Spain. Her 2019 teaching schedule includes March 4 – 8 at Espace Verre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and March 18 – 22 at the Glass Spot in Richmond, Virginia.
The modern masterpieces of Lacey St. George, a.k.a LaceFace, exemplify the power and spirit of women while speaking volumes about the artist’s determination to succeed in the male dominated functional glass world.From her studio in Ashland, Oregon, LaceFace pushes the limitations of glass while serving as a motivated community leader.
“Most of the women in my work are looking towards heaven, reaching upwards in reverence and gratitude. The spiritualistic and ritualistic quality of pipes has always inspired me to create a higher form of functional art that can be portrayed as sacred, statuesque, or shamanic. The medium of glass, in combination with ancient sacraments, has given our society a way to reach a higher consciousness. Smoking provides communion with one another by bringing people together to perform a ritual as old as human history itself.”
The daughter of functional artists, LaceFace became involved in the expanding glass art pipe movement at an early age. As a flameworker, she put herself through Portland Community College, Portland, Oregon, where she earned an associates degree in art.
LaceFacehas since been awarded some of the industry’s highest honors, including First Place in C.H.A.M.P.S. female division national flame off competition, Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2010. Named Breakout Artist of the Year by the American Glass Expo (AGE), Las Vegas, Nevada, and by the International Glass Show, Los Angeles, California, in 2011, the artist also took home the People’s Choice Award from the World’s Greatest Flame Off, Trump Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, that same year. LaceFace has been named AGE’s Best Female Glassblower in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Strong spiritual themes flow along the curvy lines of a LaceFace sculpture. Believing glass holds the energy of life with its unique relationship to fire and air, the artist has created a new series depicting the earth as a living thing. These large-scale elaborate sculptures will be unveiled in a solo exhibition opening November 2 at Walton Art House, Ashland, Oregon. The artist will also teach her progressive sculpting techniques at Glass Alchemy, Portland, Oregon, this spring 2019.
Shane Fero’s legendary avian forms in hot glass have been sought after and cherished by collectors worldwide for nearly five decades. On the wings of his ever-inquisitive mind and an imagination fueled by nature, anthropology, astrology, and Surrealism, Fero’s work soars above and beyond its natural form, relying upon humor and thought provoking elements to attract and hold the attention of viewers.
If there has been criticism of Fero’s work it’s that bird imagery makes no statement, has no narrative. Not so to its creator. “Some beautiful and spiritual birds have always held a deeper connotation throughout history. This can only be understood by paying attention to them and contemplating both their place in the world and our affect on that.”
In fact, Fero’s focus on bird imagery has sharpened in the last 16 years with his blown bird series based on German flameworking techniques. Though these processes were learned as a young apprentice, the artist brings them into contemporary context in his sculptures, vessel forms, and mixed media pieces.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1953, Fero has been a flameworker for nearly 50 years and maintains a studio next to Penland School of Crafts, Bakersfield, North Carolina. He is the Past-President of the Board of Directors of the Glass Art Society (GAS) and received the 2014 Lifetime Membership Award at GAS Chicago.
Since 1992, Fero has participated in 400 group exhibitions and 33 solo shows including three retrospectives: a 30-year at the Berkowitz Gallery at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; a 40-year at the Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Alabama; and at the Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee. His work can be found in over 20 museum collections worldwide including the Museum of Art & Design, New York, New York; The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Ebeltoft, Denmark; the Museum fur Glaskunst, Lauscha, Germany; and the Nijiima Contemporary Glass Museum in Tokyo, Japan.A renowned educator, Fero has lectured and demonstrated in symposia and conferences all over the world and taught at institutions such as Penland School of Crafts; Urban Glass, Brooklyn, New York; and the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington. His 2019 workshop schedule includes Glass Axis in Columbus, Ohio, June 24 through 27 and Appalachian Center for Craft, Smithville, Tennessee, July 14 through 19.
Richard La Londe’s work reflects an undeniable harmony. He strives for balance between left and right brain, meaningful content and technical prowess, spontaneous creation and tight design. In 1983, this pioneer of the Northwest fusing movement was one of the ﬁrst instructors for the Bullseye Glass Company, and his exploration and experimentation with the medium resulted in the introduction of multiple new techniques.
Born in 1950, La Londe grew up in Vancouver, Washington, graduating in 1972 from the University of Washington with a degree in geology. Early on he held many different jobs including commercial fishing in Alaska, becoming a journeyman welder, building houses, creating stained glass windows, forging ornamental iron, blowing glass, and building kilns.
His love affair with fusing began in 1981 when he started firing Bullseye glass in an electric kiln. “In the early 1980s Bullseye created the first complete color range of glass that was compatible and when fused together didn’t crack apart.” La Londe taught fusing classes for Bullseye in glass facilities around the United States and in Canada from 1983 to 1988, and in 1985 taught at the famed Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington.
As the work evolved, La Londe began translating his ideas into the pictorial murals and handkerchief vessels he is known for today. His fused glass Lotus Bowlwas purchased in 1983 by the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning New York for its permanent collection. One of his early public commissions, Into the Mythos, can be seen at the SeaTac airport, Seattle, Washington. He has completed 15 public works in total including his 2012 Washington State Arts Commission Percent for Arts Project entitled Enchanted Journey, for Spanaway Elementary School in Spanaway, Washington.
With a deep desire to share what he’s learned, the artist has authored two books, Richard La Londe: Fused Glass Art and Technique, and Richard La Londe and Friends: Fused Glass, Vitreous Enamels and Other Techniques. Heteaches workshops around the country and at his studio on Whidbey Island in Washington State. Withhis students, La Londe always shares his desire to make glass techniques more spontaneous and to create art that is truly unique.
La Londe will teach two days of fusing Bullseye and two days of fusing float glass, from September 7 through 10 at La Londe Studio on Whidbey Island, Washington.
Kelly O’Dell’s hot glass sculpture speaks to the devastating impact of the human race on species in the wild and embodies the Latin phrase “memento mori,” meaning “remember death.” Using the fragility and translucency of glass to create ghost-like animals in an homage to all that have been lost never to return, the artist endeavors to inspire environmentally-mindful changes in our daily routines while providing hope for a different future.
From October 5, 2018 through January 22, 2019, the Pittsburgh Glass Center’s Hodge Gallery presents All of a Suddens, an exhibition exploring existence and extinction, preservation and decay.The focal point of O’Dell’s solo show, “Critical Masse” features 13 endangered species mounted on the wall in clusters. Her “Ghost Animals” mimic hunting trophies displayed in a game room and highlight the 100 to 1,000 species that are lost per million per year primarily due to human-caused habitat destruction and climate change.
“My upbringing in the Hawaiian Islands inspired my love of oceans. Coming from a place so diverse in culture, climate, and teeming with flora and fauna, I feel a servitude or responsibility to honor what is lost or extinct. It’s fascinating and devastating that our presence as one species has so much impact of the delicate balance of life.”
Born in Seattle in 1973, O’Dell was raised in Hawai’i, the daughter of artists who used stained glass, furnace glass, and pressed flowers in their artwork. As a student at the University of Hawai’i, O’Dell fell in love with glass herself. The program offered many opportunities to study at Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, where she eventually relocated and became a member of the William Morris winter crew.
From September 9 -14, 2018, O’Dell and husband Raven Skyriver will co-teach in Bornholm, Denmark, at the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts in an event open to the general public, followed by a demo at Glasmuseet Ebeltoft,Ebeltoft, Denmark.From October 4 – 7, Skyriver will demo at the International Glass Symposium in Novy Bor, Czech Republic, while O’Dell heads to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the opening of All of the Suddens. In 2019, O’Dell and Skyriver will be working hard to move into their new home and studio on Lopez Island, made possible by a recent successful Kickstarter campaign.
Marcel Braun and Project 33
West Coast glassblowing legend Marcel Braun and his team, "The Starship," have been working hard to blur the line between furnace worked and flame worked borosilicate glass. Currently, Braun specializes in producing glass coins also referred to as "Art Units," which are used as a trading currency in the functional glass world in an artistic and social experiment he calls Project 33. The artist’s goal is to return the benefits of his work to the pipe community.
Braun states: “There needs to be a catalyst for change in order to move forward, and we must wholeheartedly accept this as our mission and duty. The world has become a place of corporate greed and fabrication. Quality of craftsmanship has diminished steadily over the last 40 years as planned obsolescence has become a main factor in product design. People are accepting the accumulation of money alone as a good enough reason to expend community resources.”
To properly broadcast Project 33’s message, Braun and his crew designed a mobile glassblowing unit referred to as “S.E.C.X.C.” (Sacred Economic Currency X-Change). Once the old International Metro Mite van was transformed into a moving artistic experience, glass gallery, and currency exchange kiosk, the Starship was ready to travel to events around the world.
On August 3, a showcase of the live hot glass coin pull was held in Philadelphia to highlight Braun’s millefiori pulls using the SECXC. The newly released documentary, "Project 33 - An Alternative Is Possible," directed by Dan Collins (Editor of Degenerate Art), was also screened.
On August 8, Ruckus Gallery will hold a second event in the art gallery district of Old City, Philadelphia, to release the glass coins to VIP collectors. An educational exhibit that will focus on the processes of The Starship team and the Philadelphia project will be on display at Ruckus from August 8 through September 5. Approximately 500 people are expected to attend both separate events. There will be a personal Ruckus Gallery episode of this live hot glass demo filmed by Collins, a feature in the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as tons of hot glass photography and video on Ruckus gallery’s website and social media.
Talking Out Your Glass was able to catch up with Braun during his busy Philadelphia schedule to talk about Project 33 in the context of his successful career in functional glass.
An artist with 33 years of experience working in stained glass, NancyNicholson combines fine art sensibility with seasoned craftsmanship. Using Boston and New York City architecture as a backdrop of inspiration, in 1989 the artist introduced a successful series of autonomous panels that explored the layering of light, color, and dynamic forms of the urban environment.
Eventually, the cityscape imagery and techniques Nicholson had mastered felt less compelling, signaling a need for change. But before those cues could be acted upon, routine knee surgery followed by back issues left the artist unable to walk for several months, much less work in the glass studio. During recuperation, life sized drawings of her body suspended in space replaced the physical work of glass.
Upon full recovery, when Nicholson returned to the glass studio, she found her psychic landscape altered. The meditation on her body and its aging process, instigated by her injury, retained its urgency. Simultaneously, the cityscapes felt increasingly remote and impersonal, as the drawings made during her convalescence took on more gravitas.
In contrast to our youth-centric culture, which tries to deny or disguise the effects of aging, Nicholson began to bravely explore existential questions about the topic, fueling a new body of work. Focused studies of her body capture energy and movement. Figures are handcarved, sandblasted, painted, and stained on glass to exploit the fragility and transparency of the material while enhancing the elusive qualities of gesture and emotion.
Navigating this artistic metamorphosis for five years now, Nicholson says: “While the impetus for that transition was a physical disability that brought my glass production to a dead stop, the need to change directions was already building. Now, with the figure drawings informing my glasswork, I am working in a way that is far more personal and important to me.”
From the island of Murano, Italy, Davide Penso attempts to capture the look of water in motion through his anemone beads and more recently his flowing and elegant Seaweed sculptures. Surrounded by breathtaking lagoons inspiration surrounds him, and conversations with glass seem as infinite as the surrounding bayou. “Glass follows its own time. Sometimes we fight a little bit. I have the sense of color and design, and the glass uses me to be more beautiful.”
Born in 1965 in Venice, Penso grew up and established his studio onMurano, renowned for its long tradition of glassmaking. Beginning his career as a still life photographer, the artist turned to glass in 1992 and opened his atelier known for glass jewelry reflecting a contemporary and innovative style.
The success of Penso’s work is reflected in numerous international group and solo exhibitions at prestigious venues such as Saint Mark’s Civic Museums Correr, Fortuny, and the Guggenheim, in Venice, Italy; the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, New York; St .Petersburg Glass Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; and the Glass Art Museum of Okabe, Japan. The artist has collaborated on jewelry projects with illustrious names such as Venini, Giorgio Vigna, Nason & Moretti, and Pelikan, and made a name for himself in high fashion designing collections for major brands.
In 2001, Penso began teaching lampworking and jewelry design, collaborating with Abate Zanetti School of Glass in Murano. An invitation in 2007 to lecture at Boston University School of Visual Art led to subsequent teaching stints at CMOG; the Glass Furnace in Istanbul, Turkey; and Nuutajärvi Glass Village, Nuutajärvi, Finland. Special guest appearances include the 2017 Gathering, sponsored by the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB), and the upcoming 2019 Festival of Glass, Drysdale Australia. His 2018 teaching schedule includes Master the Art of Blown Glass Beads at Blue Moon Glassworks, Austin, Texas, October 4 – 5 and at Patty Lakinsmith, San Jose, California, October 13 – 14.
Although bead making and jewelry continue as mainstays of Penso’s creative production, his current Seaweed sculptures challenge the artist to work larger on the torch. A recent outdoor sculpture measured over 3 meters and included more than 70 blown pieces. Visitors from around the world stop to take photos and marvel at the work, inspiring Penso to move in a more sculptural direction with his ideas.
Sally, a humanoid ragdoll created by Dr. Finkelstein in Tim Burton's 1993 stop-motion film The Nightmare Before Christmas, provided the primary inspiration for Peter Muller’s groundbreaking functional glass. The furnace worker turned flameworker modeled his trademark glass “quilting” technique after the patchwork and stitching of Sally’s dress. Instantly embraced by the pipe community, this aesthetic along with the artist’s development and mastery of related techniques, led to the most successful work of his multifarious career.
Muller’s voodoo doll bubblers and button-eyed patchwork puppet pipes push the boundaries of functional glass and are easily recognizable in top-notch glass collections. “Pipes travel all around and get shared with different users. From a collector’s perspective, I can imagine it’s wonderful to have anyone using or viewing a piece know who made it based entirely on the strength of its aesthetic.”
In the hills of beautiful Southern Vermont where he resides with his wife and daughter, Muller takes pipe making to new heights. In 1999, he began exploring glass as an apprentice at a small glass facility based at Lunt Silversmith’s in Western Massachusetts. Working in this high volume production setting for more than a year provided the skills to gain further employment with various studio glass artists in Western Mass and Southern Vermont. The work he created ranged from Italian goblets to large scale blown sculpture. Over a decade at the furnace he learned how molten glass moves and used his technical prowess to design and execute his own unique body of work.
In 2001, Muller established Afternoon Glass Designs with a vision to create glass that captures the whimsical and fanciful essence of the animations, illustrations, and books that inspired his passion for the arts as a child. The artist hoped that through his designs, adults and children alike could effortlessly engage with the arts and be inspired by the limitless possibilities of the imagination.
This vision and aesthetic, while established for his soft glass, continues to serve as Muller’s north star for functional work. In recent years he has participated in various solo and group exhibitions, live demos, and regular drops of work all over the US and Canada. In June 2017, Ruckus Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, presented Seamless, the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s full body of work including functionals, collabs, early soft glass vessels, and wall mount displays. There, Muller debuted his newest “Portraits and Dwellings” series. A few of those pieces are now on view at Habatat Gallery in West Palm Beach, Florida, and may tour other areas in the future.
No stranger to awards, Muller received the 2011 and 2012 Niche Award for Furnace and Flame collaborative works with Joe Peters. The American Glass Expo presented Muller with the Atlantic Region Glass Artist of the Year, People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2017. From June 26 – 28, the artist will teach a class with Zii (Kim Thomas) at Glass Alchemy, Portland, Oregon. Muller's live demos include August 11 at Piece of Mind Smoke Shop in Newport Beach, California, and September with Ryno at Witch Dr., Salem, Massachusetts. In October he will teach at Legacy Glass, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Today I opened the window to let the spring come in, and I discovered to my surprise that the forest is in my house and the landscape is within me.”
Miriam Di Fiore’s journey through life and glass reads much like Laura Esquivel’s popular 1989 novel, Like Water for Chocolate. With a similar magical realism, the kiln worker discovered both her artistic medium and voice beginning in the small seaside town where she grew up in Argentina. Though it was a forbidden love, a lifelong relationship with fused glass triumphed in the face of political adversity and family objection.
As a child Di Fiore lived in Miramar, a little city near the Atlantic Ocean protected from wind and sand by a vast pine forest. Because important moments of childhood passed among those trees, the forest continues to contain deep and symbolic meaning inspiring the drawing, painting, and photography vital to the artist’s work.
“What I try to do with my art is not an interpretation of the woods, but rather a simple respectful translation in glass of a little part of our wonderful world where I have been in the company of trees. I want to speak about that place and how I felt there. In that way I can share at least a part of the magic and beautiful moments that made me feel happy to be alive. My works are an illusion of eternity, virtual places that try to preserve what’s constantly changing and what my eyes see in fragments of time.”
Di Fiore received her art degree in ceramics and drawing in 1977 from the Escuela Nacional de Ceramica y Dibujo, Mar del Plata, Argentina. In 1991, she studied pate de verre with Linda Ethier at Creative Glass, Zurich, Switzerland, which inspired and informed a new direction in Di Fiore’s fused glass. Additional training took place in 1994 at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, from instructors Lino Tagliapietra and Rudy Gritsch. Her professional experience includes working as Narcissus Quagliata’s teaching assistant at the Museum of the Royal School of Glass, Segovia, Spain, and for his Florence, Italy, seminars in the 1990s.
Represented by Habatat Gallery, Mostly Glass Gallery, and SOFA throughout the 2000s, Di Fiore’s work can be found in the permanent museum collections of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, New York; the Newark Fine Art Museum, Newark, New Jersey; Cafsejian Museum of Contemporary Art, Armenia; Museo Nazional del Vidrio, Segovia, Spain; in the Coleccion Estable de la Revista del Vidrio, Barcelona, Spain; in the Museo delle Arti Decorative, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy and in the Municipal Glass Art Museum of Alcorcon, Madrid, Spain.
Toots Zynsky’s heat-formed filet-de-verre vessels, acclaimed for their remarkable exploration of color and form, interweave the traditions of painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. By co-inventing a thread-pulling machine that uses electronic software to create glass thread, Zynsky made possible her rhythmic, gracefully spiraling shapes that defy their own fragility. Her signature work reflects a similar strong and beautiful image to that of its maker.
Mary Ann “Toots” Zynsky, born in 1951 and raised in Massachusetts, received her BFA in 1973 at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence. There, as one of a group of pioneering artists studying with Dale Chihuly, she helped make studio glass a worldwide phenomenon and assisted in founding Pilchuck Glass School. From 1980 to 1983, Zynsky was key in the rebuilding and development of the second New York Experimental Glass Workshop (NYEGW), now UrbanGlass. While living in Europe in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, Zynsky collaborated with Mathijs Teunissen Van Manen to create a glass thread-pulling machine. It was during these years that she developed her filet-de-verre technique and took the art world by storm with her uniquely stunning sculptures.
Among numerous awards, Zynsky has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and the Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2006. With work represented in more than 70 museum collections around the world, the artist was presented with the 2015 Visionary Award by the Smithsonian Institution.Making the announcement, co-chair of the event Susan Labovich, said: “Toots Zynsky’s work epitomizes greatness in her field. Her glass sculptural pieces, which are found in major museums around the world, demonstrate creativity, vision, and innovation, which are the founding criteria for the Visionary Award. Her work is the finest of American studio glass.” Zynsky was also characterized as "one of the few women of her generation to break the glass ceiling."
Degenerate Art, the 2012 documentarydirected by pipemaker Aaron Golbert a.k.a. Marble Slinger, chronicled and in some ways changed the history of functional glass through its popularity and widespread distribution. The film, whose title references a German expression used by the Nazi regime to criticize non-conformist art, inspired multitudes of artists to take up pipemaking as their passion and profession.
Living and working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home to one of the nation’s most vibrant glass pipemaking scenes, Slinger developed a body of work that communicatescomplex themes through the utilization of graal techniques.He’s known for his visages of pop culture icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Sherlock Holmes, sandblasted onto matte-finish, color-blended pipes and tubes.
On the Board of Glass Alchemy’s Makers Alliance, Slinger works with the company to determine the future direction of its color palette. Independently, his aesthetic signature includes myriad patterning techniques such as honeycombs, inside out, fuming, disc flips, reticellos, bowties, spirals, stuff and puffs, and traditional shaping styles. Bronze casting, painting, and mixed media are also employed to convey concepts influenced by pop and graffiti art.
In a world of technological excess and social turmoil, one longs to return to the simple goodness of the earth and its bounty. Like a trip to the local farmer’s market, Jen Violette’s cornucopia of glass fruits and vegetables renews in the viewer a connection with the ground we walk upon and the faith that we remain part of a plan that makes life on earth sustainable.
A full-time glass and mixed media artist based in Wilmington, Vermont, Violette is known for her colorful, garden inspired glass sculptures that often incorporate metal and wood. Recreating plant structures with molten glass, the artist has mastered the use of glass powders to mimic the colors and textures found in nature. “Since the growing season is relatively short in Vermont, I enjoy gardening with molten glass to extend my growing season.”
A 27-year hot glass veteran, Violette received her BFA in Glass and Metal Sculpture from Alfred University School of Art & Design, Alfred, New York in 1994. She continued her glass art education through courses at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, New York; the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington; the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island; the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine; and Penland School of Crafts, Bakersville, North Carolina. Her mentors and inspirations include hot glass royalty such as Lino Tagliapietra, William Morris, Martin Janecky, Dante Marioni, Richard Marquis, the late Pino Signoretto, Randy Walker, Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen, Jasen Johnsen, Stephen Dee Edwards, Fred Tschida, Walter Lieberman, and Brian Pike.
Violette’s work can be found in private collections worldwide and is represented by a number of fine art glass galleries including Schantz Galleries Contemporary Art in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; Vetri Gallery in Seattle, Washington; Raven Gallery in Aspen, Colorado; Sandra Ainsley Gallery in Toronto, Canada; and Montague Gallery in San Francisco, California. Her work can also be found at Duncan McClellan Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida, where from October 12–14, 2018, the artist will be featured along with glass artist Claire Kelly in a weekend event including glass demos by both artists.
Currently fabricating larger scale installations and glass sculpturesdirectly mounted to the wall, Violette’s aesthetic now includes forest floor imagery with fall leaves and branches. She moves in and out of the seasons, simultaneously creating a spring inspired installation containing fiddlehead ferns and glass trilliums, as well as an homage to summer with black-eyed Susans and sunflowers, and a wall piece featuring large-scale ferns installed at different angles.
Upon her return from the Glass Art Society conference in Murano, Italy, in May2018, Violette will participate in a Vermont Crafts Council Studio Tour held during Memorial Day weekend. During August 6–11 the artist will teach her first class ever, a Creative Glass Sculpting Techniques workshop, at the CMOG Studio.
Highlights of 2017 included Fuchs’ exhibitions during The Venice Glass Week, September 10 – 17, 2017, at Museo Casa Goldoni, Venice, and an exhibition and demo for Davide Penso’s Murano Glass Meeting. She was also selected as Discovery Artist and exhibited her Flames series at TRESOR Basel 2017. Seeing the reaction of viewers to the work was vital to her growth as an artist. “I only began exhibiting glass in 2015, and am really happy how quickly people have noticed and connected with the work.”
Pollution, ocean acidification, climate change, and over-fishing conspire to unravel the ecological functioning of the world's river basins, in effect destroying the very systems that gather and convey freshwater for life. Artist Raven Skyriver, born in the San Juan Islands in Northwest Washington, has seen the effects on Puget Sound and wider Salish Sea first hand. “The health of the rivers is the health of our Sound; its health is the health of our watershed. All water systems are connected, and if one is threatened and compromised, so are they all.”
The ecological status of our world’s seas and rivers leaves Skyriver heartsick but determined to resurrect their health through education. In September 2017, the artist returned to Stonington Gallery, Seattle, Washington, for an exhibition of threatened creatures of the tides. Skyriver’s sculptures bring us face to face with the mystery and magic of species rarely seen, inspiring viewers to form personal relationships to wildlife. “Once that relationship is formed, people empathize more deeply, keep them in mind, and care about their health and their future.”
Skyriver’s subjects are not only indigenous to the Pacific Northwest but important characters in Tlingit mythology. Clam, whale, and the iconic salmon reflect reverence not only for the artist’s local ecosystem, but for his native traditions in the arts. Growing up on Lopez Island, playing in the woods, fishing the surrounds, and being in regular communication with nature, all imbue Skyriver’s work with true meaning and power.
Though he has given workshops at Pilchuck, Pratt, and the Corning Museum of Glass among others, Skyriver presented his first workshop at Penland School of Crafts, in Bakersfield, North Carolina, from April 22 – 28. In 2018, he and wife Kelly O’Dell will continue building their new hot shop on Lopez Island. In June, Skyriver will blow glass in a private studio near Cannes, France; from September 9-14, he will teach in Bornholm, Denmark, at the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts in an event open to the general public. From October 4 – 7, Skyriver will demo at the International Glass Symposium in Novy Bor, Czech Republic.
Craig Mitchell Smith’s glass garden includes a bounty of massive dandelions gone to seed, graceful grapevines on bowing arbors, and brilliant fields of poppies and sunflowers. The Lansing, Michigan, artist has been creating floral forms in kilnformed glass since 2006 using revolutionary techniques that have poised him as one of the most innovative kiln glass artists in America today.
Originally a painter, theatrical set designer, home restorer, and flower arranger, Smith followed a random road into fused glassmaking that has now taken him around the world. Entirely self-taught in glass, the artist believes that his eclectic background and skills with stagecraft influence his methods and how he thinks about his current medium. Smith’s aesthetic is decidedly theatrical, his style quite painterly.
Split nearly evenly between private home installations and custom work including chandeliers, Smith’s glass art is displayed at the Canyon Road Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at galleries in Orlando, Florida, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in two galleries in his home state of Michigan. His glass creations range in size from small precious pieces such as an ornament he fabricated for the National Christmas Tree in 2010—a red cardinal in a crystal nest designed to rest on a branch—to large multipiece installations exhibited in botanical gardens.
Imagining himself painting a flower, Smith thinks of cutting glass as brush strokes and of the kiln as a canvas. Self taught in engineering and welding, the artist creates all armatures and frames for his glass flowers. To introduce movement, to allow his glass to be more organic and beautiful, custom-bent stainless steel and molded components are designed to follow the current. With grace and kinetic capability, Smith achieves the loose, organic qualities of living botanicals.
Smith’s artwork has been displayed in locations such as Cooley Gardens and Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan; Epcot Center at Disney World, Orlando, Florida; the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, Minnesota; Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha Botanical Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, and many more. His largest show to date took place at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, and was on exhibit through August 2017. The artist designed 30 brand new sculptures for this show at the famed Climatron. Currently, Smith is developing new detailed sculptures including myriad orchids for a future botanical exhibition.
He says: “I don’t want my work to be an exclamation point in the gardens. I want it to be the comma.”
Joseph Cavalieri’s merging of contemporary imagery with the traditional processes of painted stained glass has resulted in a highly recognizable and unforgettable body of work. Using an art form with a powerful spiritual history, the artist pays homage to historic fables, contemporary pop art, and human and architectural icons in autonomous panels that often combine detailed narrative and humor.
Cavalieri’s 2017 solo show at the Ivy Brown Gallery, in Chelsea, NewYork, featured 15 new works portraying personalities such as San Gennaro, Jackie O, Helen Hayes, and a young Ulysses S. Grant, as well as architectural landmarks like the Flat Iron building and the Dakota. His work is part of permanent New York City collections such as that of the Museum of Arts and Design; the Italian American Museum; and the Leslie-Lohman Museum. Cavalieri’s collectors include two Simpson’s writers in Los Angeles, California, and movie director Morgan Spurlock.
In addition to work for gallery exhibitions, Cavalieri creates both private and public commissions. He was selected by The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts for Transit department to design a public art installation at the Philipse Manor Train Station in Westchester, New York. Additionally, in October and November 2017, the artist fabricated and installed a six-foot stained glass church window during a two-month residency in Salvador, Brazil. In the last 10 years, Cavalieri has been awarded 15 different art residency programs around the world.
A native New York artist and educator, Cavalieri has taught painting, airbrushing, and printing on stained glass in over 30 different locations including the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Penland School of Crafts, Spruce Pine, North Carolina; and UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, New York. The artist also teaches internationally, including workshops at Lourdes Zenobi Glass Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Delhi College of the Arts, India. In 2015 he was invited to be the keynote speaker for the Glass Society of Ireland and National College of Art and Design.
Whether coral reef teeming with vividly colored sea life or honeycomb dripping with golden ambrosia, Joe Peters’ flameworked glass is highly recognizable. Yet the artist has somehow avoided predictability by pushing boundaries and welcoming subjects as diverse as dragons, robots, and honeybees. Collectors delight at the release of new work, never knowing what subjects will be brought to life in Peters’ torch.
In 2012, encouraged by growing international demand from private collectors and galleries, Peters began transitioning from purely sculptural art to functional glass. To be closer to his pipe making community and to produce more collaborative projects, the artist relocated to Evergreen, Colorado, where he joined N8, Adam G, WJC, Elbo, and Eusheen at the Everdream Studio. This stable of world premier pipe makers share this state-of-the-art studio.
Influenced by glass artists Robert Mickelsen and Vittorio Costantini, Peters also found inspiration in the work of his functional glass heroes Banjo and Buck. He has studied with many flameworking masters including Lucio Bubacco, Loren Stump, Robert Burch, Sally Prasch, Milon Townsend, Mickelsen, and Emilio Santini.
On his own and through collaborations, Peters creates pieces for glass enthusiasts worldwide. In 2013, his functional glass works were featured in a well-attended and successful solo exhibition titled Side Show at GooseFire Gallery in Los Angeles, California. Public commissions include his 2012 aquarium on display at Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and public art for Chicago Children’s Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.
As cannabis continues to permeate American culture, Peters engages the functional glass community, in part, by getting his work into the hands of influential musicians. In 2015, the artist created and hand delivered a pipe to country music and cannabis legend Willie Nelson. In early 2016, rapper Action Bronson purchased a Peters’ collaboration, solidifying the value of high-end functional glass artwork within the music world.