Since 1967 when Mark Peiser became involved with the Studio Glass Movement, he has been recognized for his uniquely individualized approaches and accomplishments in glass. Continual investigation of the expressive implications of glass properties and processes has led to his distinctive bodies of work. Recently Peiser published the book, Thirty-Eight Pieces of Glass – with Related Thoughts, pairing his glass with brief writings of resonance.
To quote from the preface: “Since I began with glass 50 years ago, I’ve received countless questions asking, basically, what’s it about? In that discussion I’ve tried to answer honestly and completely but I’ve always felt to have fallen short – short of the words and short of the voice that would say them. When I started to assemble this book, I began feeling much more truthful and satisfying answers to that question. I hope you will, too. That these selections sorted out into something of an abridged life story was a bit of a surprise to me. It shouldn’t have been. All along I’ve said my work has been about my feelings and experiences and, over many years, what else is a life?”
Peiser, an internationally known glass artist, was born in Chicago in 1938. After studying electrical engineering at Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana, 1955-1957), he received a Bachelor of Science in Design from Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, Illinois, 1961). Peiser studied piano and composition at DePaul University School of Music (Chicago, Illinois, 1965-1967) before attending Penland School of Crafts (Penland, North Carolina) in 1967. After five weeks of glass classes, he became the first resident craftsman in glass at the school. Peiser is a founder of the Glass Art Society, of which he is now an honorary member, and a leading presence in the Studio Glass Movement.
Inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council in 1988, Peiser received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass in 2004, the North Carolina Governor’s Award in 2009, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Society in 2010 and the North Carolina Living Treasure Award in 2011, among others. He has exhibited worldwide and is in many public and private collections including the Asheville Art Museum, the Chrysler Museum of Art, The Corning Museum of Glass, the Glassmuseum Ebeltoft, the Lucerne Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Museum of Art and Design, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, among others.
By challenging established formulas and techniques throughout his career, Peiser has created and combined new and unusual colors in his glass sculptures. This approach to glass is radical as he has literally invented new glasses in order to pursue an idea through to creation. In 2009, a special glass formulation was created by melting opal glasses for his Palomar series of sculptures that pay homage to Corning Glass Works’ famous 200-inch Disk, the telescope mirror cast in 1934 for the Mt. Palomar Observatory in California. Currently, Peiser is working on the Marko Blanko Project to develop a specialty glass for filigrana.
Peiser’s work highlights include:
Develops blowing skills, designs and builds various furnaces and equipment, develops formulations for crystal, various opal and luster glasses. Produces iridescent miniatures, gather pots, flower forms, spaghetti bowls, copper core vessels, opaque geometric and image vessels.
Introduces and develops torch working techniques for furnace blown work allowing more detailed imagery and perspective. Produces Paperweight Vases portraying natural subjects and landscapes, urban views and abstract imagery related to the vessel form.
Develops graphite molding process and casting glasses. Makes compound cast glass pieces that compose the internal volume of solid transparent forms. Produces Innerspace series including Ascensions, Hands, Light Beams, Moons, Mountain Skyscapes, Muses, Planets and Polychrome Progressions.
Develops bottom pour casting furnace, casting and mold techniques, and glass formulae allowing larger scale work representing psychological conditions.
CONTRITION SECOND STUDY (CSS) 2000 – 2004
Produces a limited edition of 50 as a learning experience to formulate and develop casting process for controlled translucency in sculptural glass.
A creative use of my bottom pour furnace. My most fun in a glass shop since 1969. View videos of the Coldstream Casting process on You Tube by searching Mark Peiser.
Develops vermiculite molding process. Produces Palomar series as a tribute to the accomplishment of the Palomar Mirror in 1934. For more about the Palomar series and the transition to the Passage and Etudes Tableau, search You Tube for Mark Peiser’s Corning Museum of Glass talk.
Refines formulation and heat treatment of light scattering glasses. Produces work whose subject is light.
Now, more than a half century later, Peiser’s name is synonymous with invention and precision. He conveyed to ToYG podcast: “Most of my earliest memories are of making things. I seem to have a knack for seeing how things work, how things go together, and how to make it. If I have a gift, that’s it.
“When I was in design school, I became concerned with the essence of quality. Read some books and papers, sat through some lectures, and developed a somewhat subconscious but deep commitment for my life’s efforts. Later working in industry, design and advertising it was difficult to impossible to implement quality. At my level it was irrelevant and deeply unsatisfying. When I happened into Penland and the beginning of the Studio Glass Movement, the control offered by the notion of a one-man glass studio seemed an avenue that could lead to quality. I’ve done my best to hold to that path throughout my career. All in all, I’ve been successfully self- employed for 57 years. As we all hope, with the rest of life, I did the best I could at the time. But unlike the rest of life, I could disappear a bad piece like it never happened.
“Being an artist is not just another job. It’s a commitment.”
A prolific borosilicate flameworker producing highly recognizable works in functional and sculptural glass, Kim Thomas aka Zii is changing the face of flameworking. From detailed and realistic human teeth and severed finger pipes to her latest kinetic sculpture, the artist is redefining what is possible at the torch. From January – April, 2021, recent works The Cloud Capturing Apparatus and The Cloud Riding Contraption were exhibited in Glass in The Expanded Field at the Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey.
Thomas also participated in Hunterdon’s companion symposium, Pipe Art: Understudied Glass, which considered the glass pipe as a fluid work of art fundamental to the art history of glass. Celebrated artists Dan Coyle and Luken Sheafe, whose artist name is SALT, presented their intensely wrought, figural, and in the case of Thomas, sometimes kinetic, pipes. Joined by Susie J. Silbert, Curator at the Corning Museum of Glass, these artists further contextualized their work within the burgeoning field of pipe-making.
Following graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in ceramics, Thomas attended The Make Up Designory and later worked as an assistant to award-winning special effects make-up artist Kevin Haney. In 2009, when she answered an advertisement for a studio apprentice in North Hollywood, California, Thomas discovered her passion for flameworking. With lessons from her studio mates and observation she quickly learned the medium and turned her practice into a career.
Now making work from the Urban Pheasant Glass Studio, Detroit, Michigan, Thomas is a former professor of glass at Salem Community College in New Jersey, and guest instructor at various schools and studios including Penland School of Craft, Snow Farm, and the Pilchuck School of Glass. She has demonstrated her techniques at The International Flameworking Conference and The Glass Art Society Conference, and exhibits her work in museums and galleries across the United States. Her attention to detail and regard for realism have resulted in a highly recognizable aesthetic signature. In a world where the inherent beauty of glass is regularly exploited, Thomas relies on a gritty realism to set her work apart. Few, if any, artists create similar work.
As Thomas continues to work on The Escape series – she prepares to teach classes at Penland School of Craft, July 18 – August 2 and Snow Farm from August 8 – 13. Both classes are full with waiting lists. She will also participate in an emerging artist residency at Pilchuck Glass School, October 6 – November 22, 2021.
Nicknamed after her classic 1978 Camaro Z28, Zii believes the most creative and engaging work is influenced by the things that find their way into your dreams. She says: “It’s easy with pipemaking to get pigeonholed into making one type of piece –- if you’re doing it as a living, you have to please your fans and make things they will buy. As an artist, if you want to grow and develop, and have some sort of message, you can’t just make one thing over and over.”
Using tools of mapping and materials of industry Norwood Viviano makes installations and sculptures that consider various social and environmental factors leading to population changes in American cities. His most recent series, Re-Cast Cities, continues his exploration of the cross-sections of geography, cartography and history, merging urban landscapes with the symbols of industry that have fueled their booms, busts and builds.
Heller Gallery’s March 2021 Re-Cast Cities exhibition documented the first eight pieces made in this series focusing on Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, (OR), Toledo and White Mills, (PA). Curator and writer Sarah Darro called the project “a radical reconsideration of cartography that inflects Viviano’s ongoing analysis of the rise and fall of American manufacturing with an experimental energy geared towards the future.”
Viviano received a BFA from Alfred University and an MFA in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work is represented in the collections of major museums in the US, Europe and Asia. His work has been shown at the Venice Architectural Biennale (2014), Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, TX (2013); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2015), Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (2016), Bellevue Art Museum (2016), Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2016), MOCA Jacksonville (2017), Boise Art Museum (2018) as well as at Stanze de Vetro in Venice, Italy (2020). Recent solo exhibitions include Grand Rapids Art Museum in Grand Rapids, MI (2015); Heller Gallery, New York, NY (2011, 2014, 2018 and 2021); Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk VA (2016) and Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, NY (2017-18). Viviano is an associate professor and sculpture program coordinator at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Awards and residencies include the 2019 Corning Museum of Glass, David Whitehouse Research Residency for Artists; visiting artist residencies in 2017 and 2010 at Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA; inclusion in CMOG’s New Glass Review #16, #22, #33, #36, and #38; a 2016 fellowship at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center – Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, NJ; the 2014 Pilchuck Glass School John H. Hauberg Fellowship; the Venice Biennale, Best Exhibition Award, from Global Art Affairs Foundation; and the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence, GVSU, Catalyst Grant for Research and Creativity.
The result of Viviano’s 2017 Visiting Artist Residency at the Museum of Glass, Cities Underwater focused attention from population and cartographic shifts of the past to the future. The artist conceived the project to visualize the dramatic loss of land predicted to occur in the next 500 years in areas that some 127 million Americans call home. The adaptation needed to mitigate the impending changes that will affect our lives, history and culture is massive. The Cities Underwater work is aimed at keeping this conversation alive and not forgoing it for short-term convenience or gain.
The installation was comprised of 16 sets of nesting glass cylinders, which represent 16 coastal cities in the United States. Using existing LiDAR data and scientific projections, Viviano showed the projected loss of land mass due to sea level rise in Boston, Galveston, Miami Beach, Miami, Mobile, New Orleans, Newark, New York, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, St. Petersburg and Tacoma. Each set was accompanied by vinyl cut drawings and animation, which provided additional data.
For Mining Industries, Viviano utilized digital 3D computer modeling and printing technology in tandem with glass blowing and casting processes to create work depicting population shifts tied to the dynamic between industry and community. By showing how landscapes and populations move and are modified as a result of industry, his work creates a 3D lens to view that which is invisible or forgotten. His use of blown glass forms and vinyl cut drawings are micro-models of macro changes at the regional, national, and international level.
Viviano says: “I find myself looking at the world as a surveyor – telling stories through objects. Stepping back and researching how pieces fit together gives me the opportunity to consider the impact of the component parts. Conversations with specialists in a range of disciplines — historians, urban planners, demographers, climate scientists and statisticians — deepen my engagement with the subject matter and the complexity of my work. My artistic intention is to better understand our place in time by focusing on land use through pictorial imagery and on industrial growth and decline through population studies that also ask questions about the present and future of communities. My installations and objects encourage individuals to make connections and ask questions about the interconnectivity between their and other communities.
He continues: “My material choice of glass is meant to demonstrate the fragility of populations. I hope my work asks people to examine their own histories of migration, from personal and communal standpoints, just as it continues to help me navigate and explore my own.”
Viviano will teach a one-week 3D printing and mold making workshop at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass, CO, July 19-23, 2021. For more information