As a storyteller, John Moran’s work is constructed from a series of anecdotes, references, and experiences. While he draws ties to American pop culture, politics, and social issues, it’s not done arbitrarily. The artist attempts to illustrate how he sees the barrage of consumerism, religion, and politics colliding with depictions of social injustice, secular beliefs, and popular culture. These hot sculpted works pack an emotional punch through unforgettable imagery as seen in pieces such as New Times Roman and Sale of the Deathman.
Moran States: “I myself am a product of all of these things; I am American, and America was founded on dissent. To paraphrase Picasso: my work is a collection of lies, hopefully helping the viewer realize the truth. Though for me the truth is not absolute, it is simply how I see the world. It is not necessarily an attempt at subversion, but more an attempt to reconcile, and in a way celebrate, the absurdity and hypocrisy of society.”
These attributes and ideologies made Moran’s appearance on the Netflix glassblowing competition series, Blown Away 3, a personal nod to irony. Originally from Philadelphia, the winner of Season 3 currently resides in Ghent, Belgium, where he directs Gent Glas, a community glass studio he co-founded in 2014. The mission of Gent Glas is to build an inclusive community of artists working to introduce glass as an artistic medium to the public.
Receiving his BFA from Tyler School of Art and MFA from Illinois State University, Moran recently completed his PhD at Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw, Poland. He has participated in several international artist in residence programs including CGCA at WheatonArts, S12, GlazenHuis Lommel, and STARWorks. His work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums across the United States and Europe, including Habatat Galleries, SiC! Gallery, Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, and Delaware Contemporary.
Since winning Blown Away 3, Moran has been extremely busy. October events included demonstrating at Michigan Hot Glass and a Meet the Artist event for the exhibition We Are Blown Away at Habatat Detroit Fine Arts. On October 21 at 7 p.m., Moran will give a public demonstration at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) alongside Minhi England and John Sharvin. Throughout the month of November, he will participate in Habatat’s online exhibition Not Grandmas Glass. His residency at Museum of Glass Tacoma runs from November 9 – 13. In 2023, an exhibition with England and Sharvin will be held at PGC in February and Moran’s Corning Museum of Glass residency – grand prize for winning Blown Away 3 – begins in April.
Of the inspiration for his glass sculpture, Moran states: “It may not seem autobiographical, but my experiences and observations are the genesis of my ideas. Each piece is a reaction to a specific event, but is not an illustration of it. I pull from everything around me. My own political and religious views, art, books, movies, family, and popular culture culminate into layers of seemingly random references, multiple components, and a visual overload that mimics our daily experience.”
Sibelle Yüksek aka Sibelley has made a name for herself in the flameworking and functional glass worlds through the creation of what she refers to as “little women.” After focusing primarily on nudes, she shifted her energies into making video game and anime characters outfitted with accessories and garments. One early complex piece took roughly 40 hours to make. This female rig outfitted with a machine gun is a glass representation of Motoko from Ghost In The Shell.
Considering the sculptural nature of her art, it’s not surprising that Sibelley majored in illustration at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, with the goal of working in fashion. But she fell in love with glass in an elective casting course and decided to double major in glass studies – an artform that would come in handy for sculptural installations and jewelry making.
Moving to Los Angeles, California, in 2014, Sibelley set up a torch in an ill-advised bedroom studio, where she made jewelry until landing a gig at Neptune Glassworks. There, she learned how to make vessels and glassware while experimenting with smokables on the side. The artist credits 2 Stroke with her move into functional glass. While assisting him at his AGE show, he pointed out the many benefits of transitioning into the pipe scene.
In 2018, it all came together for Sibelley after taking a master class with OG flameworker, Robert Mickelsen, who taught her how to refine her sculpting with holloware. “I spent so many years studying the figure in illustration, doing live drawings, looking at comic books, drawing and drawing and drawing. So, the body has always been with me. But when I took his class, everything fell into place. I know how to work with glass and I know bodies, so he was the glue that put it together for me.”
Most of Sibelley’s work is marketed through her Instagram, where she has built a growing following. The artist is still trying to figure out where her pieces fit in to the pipe scene and the art world – should they be found in head shops and smoke shops, or interior design settings? Should they be functional or sculptural? Carly Fisher, Leafly.com, wrote: “There’s something daring and uniquely fitting about a woman facing the flames, not adhering to preconceived notions about how a pipe should look or devaluing its legitimacy as art because it can be used for cannabis. If anything, it’s another example of the limitless ways people are reexamining and elevating cannabis culture to a broader market.”
Combining influences from her teen obsessions with Japanese comic books and gaming, experiences with yoga and bodywork, and her education in fashion illustration, Sibelley’s delicate, naturalistic interpretations of female bodies that double as a pipe put her on the map. She recently held her first solo show at Glass2Grass in Miami on September 4, and she will participate in the upcoming exhibition, Mins Volume 4 on October 14 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The show will feature works from over 200 artists including Sibelley. VIP tickets are available via the link in @minspipeshow Instagram bio. General admission is free. Sibelley will demo at GAS Detroit in June and teach at the Corning Museum of Glass from July 9-16, 2023.