Alexander Rosenberg rose to national prominence following his incredible run on the Netflix glassblowing series Blown Away, where he was among the final three contestants. His laid-back attitude, intelligence, and commitment to mining the history of the form and genre for deeper connections and stories left a lasting impression on viewers. This attention to the philosophy and historical detail of glass sets Rosenberg apart – not only on the show, but in his studio practice.
Glass is at once archaic and high tech – a mixture of poetry and functionality. On Blown Away, Rosenberg often strayed into the realm of historical and scientific objects like beakers and containers for exotic plants. He won the first challenge and a Pilchuck residency with his Lachrymatory, a “tear-filled” vessel that magnified like a lens a photo of his late dog, Cleo. He capitalized on the material’s absence, allowing us to see the inside and outside of an object simultaneously.
Wrote Ben Dreith, for Nuvo: “Rosenberg’s preference for exploring glass’ possibilities for modulating light rather than straying into a heavy use of color gives his work an elegance appropriate for both the art gallery and the historical or interior design collector—putting him somewhere between mad scientist and aesthete.”
An artist, educator and writer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Rosenberg received a Master of Science in Visual Studies from MIT and a BFA in glass from Rhode Island School of Design. His artistic practice is rooted in the study of glass as a material, in conjunction with broad interdisciplinary investigation crossing over into many other media and research areas. The artist pursues his practice though residencies, teaching, performances and exhibitions locally and internationally.
The recipient of the 2012 International Glass Prize and 2019 Awesome Foundation Grant, Rosenberg was also awarded The Sheldon Levin Memorial Residency at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, A Windgate Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, The Esther & Harvey Graitzer Memorial Prize, UArts FADF Grant, and the deFlores Humor Fund Grant (MIT). He has participated in residencies at Recycled Artist in Residence (RAIR), The MacDowell Colony, Wheaton Arts, Urban Glass, Vermont Studio Center, StarWorks, Pilchuck Glass School, GlazenHuis in Belgium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Radical Heart (Detroit), and Worcester Craft Center. He was a founding member of Hyperopia Projects (2010 – 2018), headed the glass program at University of the Arts (2010 – 2017), and was an artist member of Vox Populi gallery (2012 – 2015). After teaching at Salem Community College, he has recently taken a position at Wheaton Arts as Glass Studio director.
Through the masterful use of colorless glass, Rosenberg asks probing, existential questions about the use and value of specialized handcraft in contemporary society. His art practice includes projects such as 2.6 Cents an Hour (2006), for which the artist created his own version of currency, produced by casting lead crystal, then applying a chemical coating that gave the coins a metallic appearance. Rosenberg states: “I was excited about the prospect of some stranger getting these coins as they entered circulation. But I was also thinking about how to measure the worth of skilled labor.”
In Repertoire (2011–12), using glasses and vessels he made during demos while teaching, Rosenberg created an arrangement that, when lit correctly, cast a shadow onto the wall that perfectly resembled a man with an exaggerated erection lying down. Rosenberg says: “I started thinking about shadows as a new medium to explore. I had a hard time showing this work because I couldn’t teach anyone else to install it. I tried working with a studio assistant, thinking that if I could teach one person to assemble the work, then maybe there could be a way to get people to install it elsewhere. But nobody ever could. The piece won a prize from Glazenhuis, Belgium in 2012, and part of the deal was that they were supposed to acquire the work. But they told me they couldn’t, since nobody could install it. They just wrote me a check instead.”
Rosenberg continues: “I usually feel more comfortable pairing these technical exercises with something more self-effacing, and I wanted to poke fun at the machismo one often encounters in the hot shop.” The work was shown once more at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark. On the last day, visitors were invited to take one piece home, until all that was left was the one long, vertical shadow.
Currently making a chandelier out of automotive waste and glass, Rosenberg also has an ongoing exhibition at the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. He compares working with glass to the highly focused mental state of flow defined by psychologist and professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, whose research examined people who did activities for pleasure, even when they were not rewarded with money or fame. He considered artists, writers, athletes, chess masters, and surgeons – individuals who were involved in activities they preferred. He was surprised to discover that enjoyment did not result from relaxing or living without stress, but during these intense activities, in which their attention was fully absorbed. Glass continues to be an essential ingredient in Rosenberg’s flow.
Creating playful objects and curious scenes inspired by childhood memories and dreams, Caterina Weintraub uses glass, a fragile and heavy material, to recreate iconic toys or re-imagine personal memories that evoke a sense of sentiment, wonder and discomfort. She utilizes a variety of techniques to create sculptures and installations in her Boston-based studio, Fiamma Glass. From intricate torch work to large-scale kiln castings and hot blown pieces, she chooses the process best suited to realize her vision.
Fiamma Glass Studio was established in 2010 in Newton, Massachusetts, by native Bostonians, David and Caterina Weintraub. Both are graduates of Massachusetts College of Art & Design, where they met over 13 years ago. Fiamma Glass Studio offers flameworking and glassblowing instruction, design, fabrication and consultation.
Caterina’s glass experience includes internships with Dan Dailey and Bel Vetro Glass, Brockton, Massachusetts. She has been awarded scholarships to the Corning Museum of Glass, Penland School of Crafts and Mass Art and was presented with Habatat Gallery’s International Award. Recent exhibitions include Not Your Grandma’s Glass, Habatat, Royal Oak, Michigan. In 2021, the gallery promoted a year-long glass competition featuring 12 artists, including Weintraub, who push their medium beyond the norm. Each artist chose a single month of the year to create an online presentation. Habatat asked the artists to create on such a level that the body of work could be displayed at their dream museum.
Says Aaron Schey, international art dealer, owner and partner of Habatat Michigan, founder of the Glass Art Fair and Not Grandma’s Glass: “This exhibition promoted 12 unique online presentations by 12 artists that are pushing the medium beyond the norm – creating work that is probably not in grandma’s collection…..yet. These artists are extremely innovative, and I propose that they will all be important in the future of the glass medium.”
Glass Lifeforms, on view in 2021 at Fuller Craft Museum’s Stone and Barstow Galleries, Brockton, MA, featured Weintraub’s sculpture. Curated by Sally Prasch, Glass Lifeforms 2021 featured contemporary artworks inspired by Harvard University’s acclaimed collections of plant and invertebrate models produced in the 19th and 20th centuries by Czech glass artists Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka. The exhibition included artists working in various glass techniques, including lampworking, glassblowing, pâte de verre, and others. Exhibited works were selected by a jury based on accuracy in representing the organism, aesthetic beauty, presentation, and originality.
Unforgettable, Weintraub’s signature polka dot bunnies, glass lab rats and humorous finger puppets linger in the viewer’s memory long after initial viewing, proving this artist has conquered the ultimate challenge of finding a style and voice in glass.
With the magical beauty and slight foreboding akin to Tolkien’s Fangorn Forest, the painted and stained glass panels of Petri Anderson entrance the viewer with their mystical lighting and woodland content. A stained glass artist working from his studio in Hertfordshire, UK, Anderson’s inspiration comes from two primary sources: the wealth of 19th– and early 20th-century British stained glass and the woodland habitats of his Finnish roots.
Beginning in 1989, Anderson studied restoration glass painting under Peter Archer and Alfred Fisher, and in the late ‘90s succeeded Archer as head designer and painter at Chapel Studio in Hertfordshire. Currently heading his own studio, Mongoose Stained Glass, Anderson undertakes domestic and ecclesiastical commissions as well as restoration, producing work that can be seen in churches, livery companies, schools and private homes. Liturgical projects include the Pat Salvage memorial window for St. Nicholas Church in Kelvedon Hatch, which received a diocesan award for design, and three windows for St. Andrews Church, Hyde Heath.
Having mastered techniques to include the use of traditional kiln fired glass paints and enamels, Anderson’s woodland scenes include detailed acid etched areas employed to achieve rich color varieties through the application of Jean Cousin and pigment made from steel wool soaked in vinegar. He designs and fabricates commissions and produces individual gallery pieces, some of which are available for exhibition. Independent works, such as Fox and Owls, are often inspired by global events. Others, such as Doves Rising, pay homage to the natural world. The artist has recently finished a circular panel based on Bruckner’s 4th Symphony.
Anderson will co-teach a design workshop with Tim Carey and Helen Whittiaker on Thursday, July 14, at the 2022 American Glass Guild (AGG) Conference in Corning, New York. Students will learn how to design using the program Procreate. The artist has also donated his latest work, an adaptation of a painting by E R Hughes called Oh, what’s that in the Hollow? to the AGG auction. The auction is the sole source of support for the James C. Whitney Scholarship Fund, which has awarded over 125 scholarships to worthy recipients, many of whom have traveled nationally and internationally honing their stained glass skills and knowledge.
Stained glass painting techniques have not changed dramatically since the earliest known examples of the craft back in 9th century Germany. Anderson wrote for buildingconservation.com: “A 14th century development in glass painting technique was the use of the badger hair brush. This is a broad brush (some modern badger hair brushes are 5” wide) which is used as a dry brush on wet paint to soften the paint effect and remove application brush marks. Frequently the badger brush was also used to achieve a ‘stippled’ paint effect by pouncing the wet paint. This allowed the painter to achieve a more refined appearance. Another addition to the glass painter’s repertoire was ‘silver stain’. In the early 14th century it was discovered that applying a compound of silver onto the glass and then firing it would stain the glass anything from a pale lemon color to a deep orange color. This discovery revolutionized stained glass. Suddenly there were lots of new possibilities: for the first time color could be applied to the glass and controlled depending on the firing temperature and thickness of the application. While the paintwork was confined to the side of the glass that faced inwards, the silver stain was applied to the outside face of the glass.”
A master of manipulating paint and stain to reproduce lush woodland environments, Anderson discusses both historical painting processes and his own unique take on the centuries-old techniques used to create his stunning body of work.
For two decades, the beauty of the Canadian Rockies has informed the sculptural work of Leslie Rowe-Israelson. Wondrous locales such as Banff and Jasper National Parks inspired her to express an emotional connection to nature in kiln formed glass, often enhanced with one-of-a-kind flameworked beads made by twin sister, Melanie. Leslie has mastered the creation of large fused panels as well as massive color bar bowls made in homage to streams flowing through the mountains.
Using a color bar process that allows her to strip away layers of color, Israelson then uses that color to create paintings of light in glass. She expands on these skills by placing different types of reactive glasses together, such as copper bearing glass, silver, and reactive cloud glass. Continually challenging, this combination of techniques evokes different seasons and climates, sharing the artist’s passion for both glass and nature with the viewer.
In the mountains of Canada, glass consumed Israelson’s thoughts and dreams. Beginning in stained glass, a new visual language of kiln forming was born of training and dialoging with other glass artists. From 1985 to 1994, Leslie and Melanie attended the world-renowned Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Both sisters agree that Pilchuck changed their lives. There they met Klaus Moje, Richard Whiteley, Rudi Gritsch, Richard Marquis, Paul Marioni, Dante Marioni, and William Morris – encouraging their evolution from flat to sculptural work. They also met Thomas Hamling, developer of Zircar Refractory Composites, who introduced Leslie to Mold Mix 6, which introduced her to a new visual vocabulary.
The sisters received additional training from the Alberta College of Art, Calgary, Alberta; Andrighetti Glassworks, Vancouver, British Columbia; Boyce Lundstrom’s Camp Colton, Colton, Oregon; and the Vancouver College of Art. Together they have participated in a number of residencies, both at Pilchuck and Uroboros Glass, Portland, Oregon. In 1995, Leslie and Melanie attended a month-long symposium in Teplice, Czech Republic, held by Glav Union, one of the largest flat glass manufacturers in the world at that time.
In early 2000, Israelson spent six months making a wax for a new piece that featured a huge glass circle with multiple figures. When she finally fired it, the piece cracked in the kiln due a thermocouple failure. She explains: “It was awesome! When I took it out of the mold, a big chunk came out, revealing the way the glass had flowed and melted. I wanted to figure out how to recreate that look intentionally.” This event marked the beginning of her work assembling, fusing, and slicing color bars. Now, the artist carefully stacks all the glass, knowing how it’s going to flow and move, and which way to cut it. “I try to create the flow of the mountains through the flow of the glass,” she says.
In 2004, Israelson studied with Irene Frolic and Lou Lynn at Red Deer College, Red Deer, Alberta. There she discovered wax, and suddenly her work evolved from flat bowls to three-dimensional sculpture. She began to work larger, incorporating metals in the work by applying iron oxides on the surface of the mold material. Without access to a hot shop, the artist accomplished all of her creative goals in her kiln, layering Bullseye Glass in sand, talc and Mold Mix 6 molds. She states: “No one was doing this at the time. I was a teaching assistant for Warren Langley at Pilchuck, and he gave me the sand and talc mixture. I experimented with mold materials that would allow me to take the skin off and see inside the glass – to let the light reflect through it.”
Israelson’s commissions include: Government of Canada, Governor General Arts Award, cast glass hands; Banff School of Fine Arts, Mountain Film and Book Festivals: Awards 1996 – 2014; Government of Canada, Secretary of State for External Affairs: International Gifts 1990; and Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Acquisition for Permanent Exhibition. She has demonstrated or taught at the Glass Art Society, virtual demo, 2021; Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Pilchuck Glass School; Alberta College of Art and Red Deer College of Art, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
For the last few years, Israelson has been working on a new series of larger works made via a fusing/ glassblowing hybrid process with the assistance of glassblower, Ryan Bavin. Bavin is both glassblower and award-winning nature photographer. His father, Pat, started Bavin Glassworks in Invermere, BC, in 1988. Ryan served an apprenticeship there that lasted for eight years before moving on to Pilchuck, where he studied and has been invited back several times as a teacher and gaffer working for and with respected glass artists from Canada and other nations. His blown work is represented by Canada House Gallery, Banff.
Says Israelson: “Our glass work together has developed over the years, and I cannot think of a better glassblower to work with blowing out our Bullseye Glass than Ryan. Our paths have overlapped over the years at Pilchuck, giving us a solid foundation for experimenting and creating together or separately.”
Always moving in new directions, Israelson now feels she can truly interpret the land, sky, and mountains by painting with glass. Through experimentation, she hopes to create an artistic link between glass and stone and the world in which we live. Her collaborative work with Bavin can be seen in 2022 at Canada House Gallery, Banff, and The Hearth – Arts on Bowen, Bowen Island, BC.