Charting new territory in functional glass art, Patrick McDougall and Subliminal Glass redefine what is possible in terms of size and complexity of their builds, made possible by utilizing a team approach to fabrication. Taking risks with every large, complicated boro art pipe, Subliminal Glass is highly recognizable by its inclusion of characters from the Simpsons, Mario Brothers, and Rick and Morty. One recent tube displayed 14 partying classic Looney Tunes characters in perfectly intricate detail.
“It’s not common for boro artists to want to go really large and elaborate due to the risks involved with that kind of construction,” says McDougall. “I think training so many artists has helped a lot. The team dynamic is something that hasn’t really been taken advantage of in our industry.”
At age 19, inspired by heady glass in local shops, McDougall headed to Portland, Oregon, where he began an apprenticeship making straight shooter pipes on a lathe in exchange for lessons in benchwork. Now, from his 1000-foot cabin studio in the woods north of Portland, the artist has assembled a team of four artists to create production work in scientific glass as a steady income stream that allows them to work on mind-blowing art pipes.
A self-proclaimed dreamer, McDougall’s solo work includes a 4-foot-tall glycerin tube with a castle in the base, a castle ash catcher, a built-in glass torch based on a castle with a fire-breathing dragon, and a full-sized dragon dropped inside a tube with a glycerin coil on top. The artist has also been collaborating with Robert Mickelsen on the The Art of War series, which included the life-size megawork, Shogun. One final piece in the series will be made some time this year.
On 4/20, Ruckus Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will host the first solo exhibition of Subliminal Glass. “This show is monumental for us because it allows us to display our work and everything we can do in one place.” The solo exhibition will feature beakers, sculptural works, and guns with the goal of displaying the diverse skills set of Subliminal’s artists. McDougall will also be exhibiting new collabs made with his functional glass heroes.
On May 28, McDougall and team will teach a group class on the collaborative process at Level 42 Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina.
Please check the Ruckus and Level 42 Instagram accounts for updates and possible changes due to the Corona Virus pandemic.
When a friend gave Toland Sand a stained glass studio in 1977, he embarked upon a journey that would lead him to explore the myriad qualities that define glass as a medium. Sand’s 45 years as a sculptor has resulted in works of stained glass, blown glass, and every combination in between. A pioneer in utilizing the unique properties of dichroic glass, Sand begins his current sculpture with optical crystal and dichroic coated glass, hand worked by grinding in ever finer stages until a polish is achieved. Seeking balance, harmony, and symmetry, with an accent on deconstructed form, his work inhabits the symbolic, the cosmic, and the mystery.
Inspired by his peers as well as artists such as Isamu Noguchi, David Smith, Henry Moore, and Mark Rothko, Sand says: “I love that images can come and go, are made bold, and then disappear; are reflective and then not. The energetic and mystical side comes from the teachings of my spiritual Master, Sant Kirpal Singh, by whose instructions I meditate every day in my personal effort to connect to and be receptive to the vibration of the mysteries.”
Two years in Taiwan as a child and five years in Athens, Greece, as a teenager, motivated Sand’s investigations of “otherness.” Influenced by Eastern ideograms, Greek letters and Arabic writing, the sculptor creates symbols that have meaning in their elegance as graphics and maintain the sense that language and lettering can lead one into other consciousnesses and cultures.
Each piece takes more or less six weeks to complete, starting with a drawing in the traditional three views on large white paper ripped from a roll, pencil, ruler, and compass. He says: “It’s exciting for me to see how the finished piece measures up to my concept, that begins with inspiration and an idea, and ends up as a complex construction made more complex by reflection, refraction, and the dance of light and color in a three- dimensional setting.”
Sand’s sculpture has been collected by individuals and institutions nationwide including Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin; Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph. Missouri; Chattanooga Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee; University of Michigan Art Museum, Ann Arbor; and The Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida. His work can also be found in the corporate collections of IBM, Coca Cola, UPS and MacDonald’s, to name a few. Exhibitions include SOFA Chicago, New York and Santa Fe as well as 25 solo shows, most recently in 2015 at Bender Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, and in 2016 at Raven Gallery, Aspen, Colorado.
In July of 2016, Sand moved his studio from rural New Hampshire to Carmel Valley, California. “The sculptures are a reflection of my inner space and what grabs my attention. I could be doing them anywhere. Actually, I don’t question exactly where they come from. It’s the mystery.”
On the first episode of the Netflix glassblowing series Blown Away, Deborah Czeresko introduced herself as having “a polarizing personality; I have lovers, and I have haters.” Winner of the competition, the New York based, 58-year-old, queer female artist with 30 years of glass experience was awarded $60,000 and a two-week residency at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG).
Wrote Casey Lesser on Artsy: “In a similar vein to Project Runway or Top Chef, Blown Away gathers glass artists to compete in creating innovative artworks. And while some contestants in the show’s first season crumbled under challenges that required conceptual depth, Czeresko thrived. Asked to make botanicals, she procured a set of oddly poetic potatoes; summoned to imagine a futuristic robotic device, she fashioned the Man-Bun in the Oven, an external womb for men to wear to gestate; and during a food challenge, she managed to make tacos appear über-elegant through a set of Venetian-style dishes. Her pièce de résistance was an installation for the finale: a feminist take on breakfast, including a fecund fried egg and a chain of sausage links.” Meat Me in The Middle, an installation with a sunny-side-up egg at the center represents women taking the art world by storm and a nod towards equity in fine arts.
Czeresko’s work originates from personal experience influenced by the complexities of modern day political and social ideas. It challenges gender stereotypes within the traditional glassblowing landscape. “To me, it’s almost a political act to occupy the hot shop as a fierce female glassblower,” she says in Blown Away.
In her October 2019 two-week residency at CMoG, Czeresko began work on a new conceptual chandelier comprised of more than 50 mirrored glass pieces of automotive-related ephemera such as hubcaps and a muffler. The work uses the metaphorical power of car parts to create a narrative surrounding the gendering of objects.
Czeresko’s art has always invoked a range of approaches and techniques, including performance and collaboration. After completing a BA in psychology from Rutgers University and attending graduate school in studio art at Tulane University, she began working with glass at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop in 1987. For 20 years, Czeresko has made a living creating custom lighting designs and fabricating works for fellow artists such as Robert Gober, Kiki Smith, Lorna Simpson, Mariko Mori and Eric Fischl. The artist has instructed classes at many universities and schools throughout Europe and the US, including UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, New York, where she formally sat on the board; Tyler School of Arts in Philadelphia; College of Creative Studies in Detroit; and LUCA School of Arts in Ghent, Belgium.
Following her appearance on Blown Away, Czeresko developed a vocal and enthusiastic fan base, inspired by this strong, creative woman articulating a message of diversity, equity and belonging. A most unlikely reality TV star, she is stopped regularly on the streets outside of her Lower East Side apartment for autographs, embraces and accolades.
Admittedly thrilled with the attention, the artist has used her new-found celebrity to gain gallery representation. Blown Away inspired interest from New York’s Heller Gallery, which exhibited a new, large installation of her potatoes at SOFA Chicago last fall and her Meat in Chains at the NYC gallery earlier last year. In 2020, both CMoG and the Toledo Museum of Art purchased Czeresko’s work for their collections. In addition to exhibiting new works in three upcoming museum shows and multiple pending residencies, Czeresko will be the honoree for the UrbanGlass 2020 Gala held May 12.
With nature as her muse, stained glass artist Hallie Monroe recently completed two ground-breaking autonomous panels. The first references a recent study on octopus intelligence. It depicts her imaginings of what cephalopods could do with the car keys, sunglasses and smartphones routinely dropped overboard and into the ocean by humans. The other illustrates the heart-wrenching effects of 2019’s summer fires on the world’s wildlife.
“These are not your grandmother’s church windows. I wanted to explore topics that go beyond the blonde Jesus interpretations I have painted so many times to speak about modern topics of climate change and society.”
A graduate of the Pratt Institute with a BFA in Illustration, Monroe’s experience as a glass painter is vast and includes All Saints Episcopal Church’s Chapel of Ease in Barbados (2006 – 2009); Conrad Pickel Studios, Vero Beach, Florida, where she worked on one of the largest stained glass windows in the US for Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida (summer 2009); and Willet Hauser Architectural Glass (2010- 2014). Over the years, the artist has also painted for many freelance clients including Holdman Studios, Lehi, Utah; the Art of Glass, Media, Pennsylvania; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; The Gil Studio, Brooklyn, New York; Serpentino Stained & Leaded Glass, Needham, Massachusetts; and Sunlites Stained Glass, Far Rockaway, New York.
Monroe’s process and techniques are basically the same whether painting liturgical work or creating personal autonomous panels. She begins by standing sheets of glass around her studio, allowing color and texture to interact with different light and inspire a design. In her work, Red Elephant, the artist utilized acid etching on red flashed glass in a protest against the slaughter of these animals for their ivory tusks. Silver stain was expertly applied to produce a glowing effect used in combination with the angle of the elephant charging to heighten the urgency of the message.
In another work, Owl in the Birches, Monroe relied upon Catspaw glass to create the dappled green background that so vividly conveys sunlight in the forest. This panel was exhibited in American Glass Now: 2014, the American Glass Guild’s (AGG) annual juried show held at the Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, from May 1 to June 30, 2014.
Semi-photorealistic portraits comprise a large percentage of both her personal and liturgical painting. “People of color are rarely depicted in stained glass, and I wanted to change that.”
The recipient of the AGG Scholarship, Monroe also received two grants from the Stained Glass Association of America (SGAA). The 2009 SGAA Elskus Scholarship enabled her to take a 12-day stained glass tour of southern France given by author and guide, David Wilde.
After 30 years of running her studio in Southampton, New York, Monroe recently relocated and opened Twin Elms Stained Glass Studio at Pittsford Village Farm, Pittsford, Vermont. An experienced instructor, Monroe has taught workshops at St. Michael’s Institute, Mystic, Connecticut; Amagansett Applied Art School, Amagansett, New York; Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York; and the 2019AGG conference held in San Antonio, Texas. In 2020, the artist will teach workshops at Yestermorrow Building Arts School, Waitsfield, Vermont, and out of her own studio.
In discussions about why stained glass has not found its place in art galleries, lack of content in the work is cited as a primary factor. This is closely followed by the challenges of exhibiting an art form with an absolute dependence on natural light. Monroe accepts the inherent limitations of her medium and with a masterful painter’s hand, blurs the lines between art and craft in profound images of our vanishing natural world.
“The public still thinks of stained glass as church windows. Architects using stained glass windows in ways outside of that definition and artists like myself showing in galleries so people can see the work outside of a church setting, will build new audiences for autonomous works in glass.”