William Warmus and Tim Tate: Founders of 21st Century Glass – Conversations and Images/ Glass Secessionism Facebook Group
Glass Secessionism does not mark the death of Studio Glass. It makes it stronger…In many ways, Glass Secessionism is putting glass back on the path it should have followed. It encourages those areas of glass that had progressed over time and builds heavily upon them. It reveres those artists who advance the medium, taking chances with new directions. In other words, we are not destroying the past, we are constructing a future.
An exchange on a tour bus between artist and art historian inspired the formation of 21st Century Glass – Conversations and Images/ Glass Secessionism. This Facebook group, founded and moderated by Tim Tate and William Warmus, underscores and celebrates glass sculptural art in the 21st century and illustrates the differences and strengths compared to late 20th-century, technique-driven glass.
Warmus is a Fellow and former curator at The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG). The son of a glassblower at Corning Incorporated, he studied with art critic Harold Rosenberg and philosopher Paul Ricoeur while at the University of Chicago. As curator of modern glass at CMoG in 1978, Warmus curated three landmark exhibitions: New Glass, which was also shown at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Louvre; Tiffany’s Tiffany, which focused on the masterpieces Tiffany had in his home and studios; and the first major exhibition in North America of Emile Gallé’s work. He is the founding editor of New Glass Review and has served as editor of Glass Quarterly Magazine, faculty member and visiting artist at the Pilchuck School of Glass, executive secretary of the Glass Art Society, and board member at UrbanGlass. The recipient of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass award for outstanding contributions to contemporary glass, Warmus lives near Ithaca, New York.
A Washington, D.C. native, Tate has been working with sculpture now for 30 years. Co-founder of the Washington Glass School, his artwork is part of the permanent collections of a number of museums, including the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and the Mint Museum. He participated in 2019’s Glasstress show with Ai Wei Wei and Vic Muniz during the Venice Biennale. Tate has received numerous awards and honors including the 2010 Virginia Groot Foundation award for sculpture; a Fulbright Award from Sunderland University, England, in 2012; second place in the 2017 London Contemporary Art Prize; and the 2018 James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Artist Award. His involvement at Penland School of Craft includes teaching, serving as featured artist for the 2018 annual auction, and acting as the Development Chair for the Penland Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2018.
Modeled after Alfred Stieglitz and the redefinition of photography by Photo Secessionists, Glass Secessionism is similar in that both mediums were born of science and industry, and both had similar paths of evolution as a result. Photography and glass art emerged from the lab or factory with inherent technical barriers, and genius was required to make something from the materials. Thus, early pioneers had a vested interest in keeping secrets and making adaptation by other artists difficult.
“We respect good technique, and understand its importance in creating great art from glass. However, we believe that great art should be driven primarily by artistic vision, and technique should facilitate the vision. For too long, technique has driven the majority of Studio Glass. As Secessionists we do not seek to isolate ourselves from other artists working in glass, but to enhance the field as a whole,” says Warmus.
Another motivation for Glass Secessionism, fine art galleries were not showing enough 21 century glass, and glass galleries were not showing emerging glass sculptors. Tate and Warmus believe, “Only by seceding would we succeed.” A primary drive of their Facebook group is to attract and support younger artists working with glass.
In this conversation, Tate and Warmus discuss their Facebook group, how Studio Glass will move forward in the 21stcentury, and how glass artists and galleries can survive the effects of the current Covid 19 global pandemic.
For many years, Cathryn Shilling has been fascinated by kinesics or the study of body language by which humans subconsciously transmit and receive non-verbal communication. These physical expressions may reveal our true feelings by signaling the difference between what we say and what we mean. Body posture and the position of a person in relation to others is an important indicator of feelings, attitudes and moods.
Shilling’s most recent body of work, Cloaked, further explores the relationship between fabric and the human form. “Clothing conveys so many things. Not only does it provide protection against the elements, it also broadcasts our position and identity within society, as well as reflects our mood and emotional state.” Shilling’s sculpture investigates these themes as well as the numerous associated misconceptions and judgments we are all guilty of making.
An internationally renowned glass artist living and working in London, Shilling began her career as a graphic designer, graduating from Central School of Art and Design in London, and working as a designer until her family’s move to the US in 2001. Prompted to pursue a new and exciting creative direction, the artist studied the art and craft of stained glass in Connecticut. Upon her return to London in 2004, she switched her focus to kiln formed glass and also became a student of blown glass at Peter Layton’s London Glassblowing Studio. In 2009 she established a studio near her home, and the following year became curator at London Glassblowing.
Shilling’s work has been collected and widely exhibited internationally, including: Ireland Glass Biennale 2019 at Dublin Castle; The 3rd Session of China·Hejian Craft Glass Design & Creation Exhibition and Competition, Ming Shangde Glass Museum, Cangzhou City, Hebei Province, China, 2019; TACTILE at Glazenhuis, Lommel, Belgium; New Acquisitions, 2017 at Glasmuseum Lette, Coesfield, Germany; Peter Bremers & Cathryn Shilling: A Two Person Exhibition at Schiepers Gallery in Belgium; The CGS Jubileum 20th Anniversary Exhibition at Etienne Gallery, Oisterwijk, Netherlands; The Taos Art Glass Invitational New Mexico, USA; BODYTALK at the Glasmuseet, Ebletoft, Denmark; COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery with London Glassblowing and Vessel Gallery; East-West Artists Exhibitions in Kyoto, Japan and London; Hot Glass at Contemporary Applied Arts, London; Collective Genius at Vessel Gallery, London.
Exhibitions also include the British Glass Biennale in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017, when her collaboration with Anthony Scala won the Craft & Design Award, and 2019. Shilling has twice exhibited as a finalist in the Emerge juried kiln glass exhibition at Bullseye Projects, Portland, Oregon. In 2013, the artist took home the international Warm Glass Artists Prize and has twice been nominated for the SUWA Garasuno-Sato Glass Prize and several times for the Arts & Crafts Design Award. In 2015 she was ranked number 4 in the Glassation list of “The Most Game Changing Female Glass Artists” and number 25 in the Graphic Design Hub’s list of “The 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today.” The artist’s work was represented in the Corning Museum of Glass’ New Glass Review 33, and in 2018 she was Artist in Residence at North Lands Creative, Lybster, Scotland.
In 2019, Shilling celebrated 10 years of professional practice with a solo show, Hidden Gestures, at Vessel Gallery, London. Her piece Diorama – Moonlight was recently acquired for the Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, by Habatat Galleries Detroit. “I am absolutely thrilled to be part of this amazing collection.” Her work, The Intangibility of Sorrow, can be seen in the Contemporary Glass Society’s latest online exhibition, Reverie.
Like so many artists, Shilling’s forward momentum was halted abruptly by the Corona Virus pandemic. Many of her scheduled exhibitions and events, such as giving a talk and exhibiting at the Art Workers’ Guild during London Craft Week, will be rescheduled for the fall. Some, like her demo with glassblower Louis Thompson at the 2020 Glass Art Society Conference in Smaland, Sweden, have been cancelled altogether.
“It is rather depressing because just about everything has been cancelled or postponed. I had been looking forward to glass exhibitions taking me and my work to Sweden, Venice and New York as well as speaking at the Contemporary Glass Society Conference in Wales. All these plans have had to be shelved. However, this is all pretty insignificant when you look at the bigger picture. I am lucky enough to be able to keep making, and this gives me enormous satisfaction. I am also finding it good to have the time now to really think about my practice and try out some of the ideas that I haven’t been able to explore with so many deadlines looming. I am hopeful that 2021 will be as fabulous for me as 2020 was going to be!”
Please check all venues for the latest updates.
Sculpture at Kingham Lodge, May 8 – 17, Kingham, Oxfordshire
Sculpture at Doddington Hall & Gardens, July 25 – September 6, Doddington, Lincolnshire
The Devil’s In The Detail, a two-person show with Anthony Scala, October 23 – November 7, London Glassblowing, London
Glass Is Biotiful, date to be confirmed, Biot, France
Homo Faber 2020, September 10 – October 11, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy
From Many, One 1, October 1 – November 6, Culture Object, New York, USA
On the Eastern Cape of South Africa, stained glass artist Anika Van Der Merwe grew up visiting her family’s farm in the Karoo. Watching her Dutch grandmother craft wool into beautiful artistic weaves on a loom, inspired a lifelong appreciation for traditional crafts, particularly the dying arts. Now, from her Cape Town studio Silver Stain, Van Der Merwe works on a combination of projects that include both restorations and original works, many of which set social networks afire with interest and enthusiasm upon their publication.
With a passion for painting, Van Der Merwe enrolled in fine arts study in 1999 at Port Elizabeth Technikon, where she participated in a stained glass course that forever altered her trajectory. Unfortunately, glass painting was not part of the program and upon completion of her certificate, the young artist traveled to London with nothing but a one-way ticket and 50 pounds in her pocket. Work at four different UK studios provided experience and practice in both glass painting and restoration.
In 2008, Van Der Merwe returned to South Africa and established Silver Stain Glass Studio, where she navigated many challenges, including sourcing materials and equipment. Exploration has been key to the artist’s evolution and growth. Restoration work on windows from Argentina led to her discovery of Prodesco enamels, a product of Spain. She says: “I find the amber enamels more predictable, and they can be mixed with other colors. I’ve pushed the paints quite a bit and the results amaze me.”
Notable Van Der Merwe restorations include Argentinian Glass restored for On Site Gallery including a dome for a private residence and the entrance to the main seating area of the Short Market Club, both in Cape Town; thirty-four windows at the Church of Transfiguration in Kensal Rise, London (for which the council allowed no power tools on the site. It was mandated that the entire restoration, including carpentry and masonry, be carried out by hand); and Saint Mary the Virgin, Harefield, UK, 2007.
In 2014, an opportunity to create a Saint Francis window for Bishops, an historic catholic chapel at a Cape Town boy’s school, presented itself. Restrained by the fact that the surrounding windows were Mayer of Munich, Van Der Merwe designed and fabricated a companion window, but knew it would be her last non-original work.
She said: “Although I really enjoy painting in the Mayer style, I couldn’t help but feel I should be making my own windows by now. I’ve painted so many windows in the styles of others for such a long time. That’s not what I envisioned stained glass to be for me. I’ve admired artists like Judith Schaechter and Sylvia Laks, and many others. I wanted to be an artist in my own right.”
During the St. Francis project, Van Der Merwe designed and fabricated the first of three autonomous panels featuring graceful and flowing koi fish, based on her early design sketch for an Asian restaurant commission. “I didn’t really give it any thought or planning. It was one of those pieces I let take me places. I played and experimented, applied techniques I learned from restorations, pushed the paint to get certain results, and it came out great.” The second and third koi panels in the triptych were created in 2016 and 2017 respectively, the second appearing on the cover of the Stained Glass Quarterly in 2019, along with a feature article.
Overwhelming positive response on social media and from the stained glass world at large has encouraged Van Der Merwe to take on more complex and challenging projects, such as her recent collaboration, The Honeybear. Based on Ree Treweek’s illustrations from her book Postcards of Molitia, the panel afforded Van Der Merwe and Treweek the perfect opportunity to marry illustration and stained glass in a detailed, magical and fantastical panel featuring a character from Treweek’s fantasy world.
Van Der Merwe says: “It was a great project, some of which Ree even painted herself. We went to this magical cottage in the mountains of the southern most point of Africa to paint some of the imagery in the window.” The two artists are currently working on an accompanying panel alive with botanicals for Treweek’s home. Also now in progress is a stained glass dome created by Van Der Merwe for a local residential client.
Throughout her career, Van Der Merwe has actively avoided the “fine art” world. Stained glass provided the means to be an artist, make a living and avoid navigating intimidating art critics. Though South Africa doesn’t currently recognize stained glass as an art form, the popularity and success of Van Der Merwe’s work is expanding the understanding and appreciation of the craft, not only in her homeland, but worldwide.