10 Moments …
And Other Sculptural Works by Andrew Certo
On September 23, 2019, Andrew Certo won the Bern Gallery’s prestigious Pipe Classic. Twelve artists worked for 12 hours, and Certo emerged victorious with his representation of a marble falling into water represented 10 times chronologically. Visually striking, his piece titled 10 Moments includes a sherlock, rig, spoon, and chillum on a sheet glass base.
Certo says: “For me this piece is about a small event creating something big and how quickly things escalate. Thanks to Pipe Classic for putting together a killer event, to GTT for their generosity, and to all of the other competitors for pushing me to work my ass off to try to bring this idea to life. I’m excited to share this sculpture-rich work and the next ideas.”
A thriving pipe maker based out of Denver, Colorado, Certo’s interest in using glass as a medium began in 2007 at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and continued at Tyler School of Art, where he earned his BFA. The artist credits art school education with his more open and experimental approach.
The result of doing what he loves and trusting the process, Certo’s designs are inspired by motion, beginning in 2014 with his signature Spray Bottle rigs and evolving into his Butane Torch pipes. It took four years for the artist to develop and hone his unique patterning technique used in the creation of seamless bands of hexagonal or rectangular color.
Though pipes are Certo’s mainstay, in 2017 he created a groundbreaking sculpture, a wall piece featuring a bubble of water being shot by a bullet. Working with The Junkyard Co. in California to produce wooden components, the artist endeavors to further explore sculptural work.
Currently in an incubation period of developing new ideas and forms, Certo will exhibit his work and collaborate with Chris Ahalt at Piece of Mind, in Newport Beach, California, on December 14, 2019. The show includes all new work, collabs, and a live demo. VIP 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., public 7 p.m. to midnight. VIP on sale now. Anticipation builds to see what these two prolific artists create in concert as well as their solo work.
In March 2020, Certo Glass exhibits in a group show focused on pattern with 2stroke, Disk and Takao at Stoked Connecticut, Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Amber Cowan’s Horror Vacui
In Amber Cowan’s cornucopia of magical flameworked objects, each individual ornament in concert with its neighbor creates a sculpture so lavish, so elaborate, it exudes the air of a precious Victorian relic. Her visual feast speaks its truth through an abundance of decoration. The fact that the work is made from repurposed glass is only considered after the viewer recovers from the enchantment of excess.
On November 13, 2014, The Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) awarded Cowan its 29th Rakow Commission, a program that provides $25,000 to encourage glass artists to explore new work without concern for financial limits. The award is presented to an artist not yet represented in the museum’s collection and selected by the curator of modern glass, at that time Tina Oldknow. Cowan’s Garden of the Forgotten and Extinct is now part of CMOG’s permanent collection.
Said Oldknow: “Amber takes this ubiquitous commercial glass and gives it a new, cool life, transforming it by destroying it and re-forming it into beautiful and evocatively retro sculptures. For me, Amber was a perfect candidate for the Rakow Commission. I have sometimes picked artists whose work is clearly contemporary, but who also help us understand different aspects of the history of glass. For this purpose, I am not looking for work that replicates earlier styles, but rather work that interprets or contextualizes them in new ways. Amber’s work also addresses contemporary concerns about object making, and I appreciate her fresh take on the potential of what she describes as recycled, up- cycled, and second life glass.”
Cowan’s work is made from found American pressed milk glass, also known as opaque glass, made between the 1940s and the 2000s. The artist collects long forgotten objects such as candy dishes, teacups, and plates from thrift shops, flea markets, and even eBay, and re-forms them into beautiful and evocative sculptures. The discarded glass, which she notes has been “abandoned to the dust bins of American design,” is turned into tiny leaves, fruit, swans, roses, and abstract spirals, bits, and spikes.
A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–based artist, Cowan is also a faculty member of the glass department at Tyler School of Art and Architecture. In 2018, she was selected as Artist Honoree at The Urban Glass Gala, served as resident artist at The Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, and lectured at The Glass Art Society Conference, Murano, Italy. Represented by Heller Gallery, Cowan unveiled new work in a solo exhibition titled Salacia in May 2019.
Currently, Cowan is converting an old deli into a new studio and living space while finishing a new piece to be exhibited with Heller Gallery at Art Miami, December 4 through 9, 2019. A Burke Prize finalist, two of her pieces are on view at The Museum of Arts and Design in NYC through April 2020.
Jeffrey Stenbom: Coping with PTSD, Connecting with Other Veterans through Kilnformed Glass
In the aftermath of 9/11, Jeffrey Stenbom felt compelled to act and joined the U.S. Army. Stationed in Germany, he was deployed to Kosovo and sent to Iraq for the second year of the war. As a cavalry scout, forward reconnaissance or “finding the bad guys” became his daily routine for the next three and a half years during the height of the conflict.
There were crises on the home front as well. While serving in Iraq, Stenbom missed both the birth of his first son and the death of his sister and only sibling. A combination of deployment and emotional upheaval triggered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Stenbom was discharged from the Army and returned stateside in January 2004.
Back home, Stenbom tried to make a new life for himself as he struggled with anger issues caused by his PTSD. By chance, he discovered kilnforming glass in a class offered at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota, where he was pursuing the last class required for his associate of arts degree.
The passion, drive and focus inspired by fusing helped Stenbom manage his PTSD. It also helped him recognize that he wanted to build a future incorporating both art and teaching. The artist earned his BFA in glass and sculpture and a complementary BS in art education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. A desire to teach at all levels inspired Stenbom to apply to graduate school at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Stenbom’s thesis show at Tulane, entitled Thank You, included four large installation pieces that came together as an exhibit. The show included large, clear, cast glass dog tags suspended from an acrylic chain with a blown glass clasp. Kiln cast glass combat boots were reflected in a cube of one-way mirrors atop a ground of discarded brass rifle shells. There was also an interactive glass ground with imprints of army boots over which visitors could fit their own steps and a flag woven of U.S. military uniforms.
“The concept behind the exhibit developed from a research fellowship on symbolism and iconology. My goal was to be more effective in how I communicate symbolically with my own art. I then considered symbols that are iconic within the culture of the military and decided to use those things to draw the viewer in to consider the piece overall.”
The largest piece Stenbom has created to date includes 7,300 cast glass dog tags and was installed on a wall of the Bellevue Museum, Bellevue, Washington. Titled Every Year, the piece is a startling representation of the number of veterans who commit suicide each year.
Powerful symbolism and iconology define Stenbom’s current work in glass. Residencies at The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass, Pilchuck Glass School and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls have provided fertile ground to advance his ideas. Now instructing, in 2020 the artist will teach kilncasting at Urban Glass, Brooklyn, New York, and 3D design as well as fused glass at Normandale Community College. His work will be exhibited in A New State of Matter: Contemporary Glass, at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, MI, beginning on January 25, 2020.
Watch “Jeffrey Stenbom, “Every Year” Installation Time-lapse” on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/219605414?ref=em-share
Carmen Lozar: The Art of the Story
Spilling out from their bottles, bowls, cartons and cans, Carmen Lozar’s flameworked characters tell a story about how messy life can be. These small narratives accentuate the movement and flow of glass but also speak volumes about our relationship to the world.
“I have found myself drawn to glass for the innate sense of motion it can bring to a work of art. While the intrinsic motion of most materials becomes paralyzed at the touch of the human hand, glass, as an amorphous solid, never relinquishes its visual motility. I have chosen to pursue a career in glass sculpture not only for my love of the material, but also because there is so much left to be explored within the field of flameworking and the medium itself.”
Art has always played an essential role in Lozar’s life, growing up with a mother who performed puppet shows and a father who created scale ship models and watercolor renditions of the ramshackle barns on the outskirts of town. During undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lozar interned at the Bullseye Glass Factory in Portland, Oregon, and attended Pilchuck Glass School as a Saxe award recipient and staff member. Upon completion of her BFA, the young artist travelled to China, Indonesia, Thailand, and India to explore eastern traditional art. Back in the US, she moved to the Southwest and opened a casting and flameworking facility in Tucson, Arizona. Work from this period was exhibited in numerous shows, including SOFA, Chicago. In 2003 Lozar completed her post-graduate degree at Alfred University, New York.
Born in 1975, Lozar lives in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois where she maintains a studio and is a member of the art faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University. She has taught at Pilchuck Glass School, Penland School of Craft, Pittsburgh Glass School, Appalachian Center for Crafts, The Chrysler Museum, and the Glass Furnace in Istanbul, Turkey. She has had residencies at the Corning Museum of Glass and Penland School of Craft. Although she travels abroad to teach and share her love for glass – most recently to Turkey, Italy, and New Zealand – she always returns to her Midwestern roots.
“The sculpture I create with glass is meant to inspire and provoke imagination. Telling stories has always been my primary objective. Some narratives are sad, funny, or thoughtful but my pieces are always about celebrating life. My most current body of work deals with spills.”
In summer 2019, Lozar taught her Small Scale, Large Impact Masterclass at the Seventh International Festival of Glass, Stourbridge UK, as well as flameworking classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Penland School of Crafts, and UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, New York. In 2020, Lozar will teach flameworking at SW Art Glass, in Phoenix, AZ, January 4-5 and Pilchuck Summer Session 3.
Lozar is represented by the Ken Saunders Gallery in Chicago, and her work is included in the permanent collection at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin.