Daniel Collins has spent more than 20 years directing award-winning documentary films that examine the untold stories of innovative artists, unsung activists, and underground subcultures. He has strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement. He began his filmmaking career at the Delaware-based nonprofit media initiative Hearts and Minds Film in 2001, founded Dan Collins Media in 2014, and launched Fire Team Films, which focuses exclusively on glass-related content, in 2022.
In October, Collins’ latest film Slinger debuted on Amazon and Vimeo on Demand. Aaron Golbert, aka Marble Slinger, embodies the artistic evolution and cultural revolution of the American glass pipe movement. He began making pipes in the 1990s, learning well-kept craft secrets from a few generous mentors, at a time when making “drug paraphernalia” could still land you in jail. Now, 25 years later, he is revered for his unique and ever-changing pipe aesthetics, his bold forays into the world of pop-art (especially his “Assault Girl” designs; Warhol-inspired mashups of the Morton Salt Logo), and perhaps above all for his documentary film, Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes (2012). This groundbreaking film premiered at the legendary SXSW Film Festival and enjoyed a two-year run as a top-ranked documentary on Netflix, giving audiences around the world the first detailed look into the underground glass pipe subculture.
Says Slinger: “I’ve always seen glass pipe making as an extension of legalization activism, a protest, saying we believe that cannabis is beautiful!”
Slinger studied film at Ithaca College in upstate New York, but when he first glimpsed the mysterious glass pipes that began popping up on Grateful Dead and Phish tour in the mid-90s he was hooked. Devoted to outlaw cannabis culture, and hungry for an alternative to mainstream life, Slinger headed to Seattle to learn the art of pipe making. He has since become an artistic icon in a scene which has turned into a billion-dollar industry. This film tells the story of his life’s journey in a deep, personal way, while following him through a frigid Philadelphia winter as he prepares for a rare solo exhibition in sunny California. Directed by long-time friend and award- winning filmmaker Collins, the film offers a unique glimpse into Slinger’s world, inviting audiences to intimately experience the many challenges an artist faces in the pursuit of passion.
“You don’t need to go to film school, you need to live a life worthy of making a film about:” states Slinger.
Collins is best known in the glass-pipe community for being the editor of Marble Slinger’s opus Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes(2012). He has since gone on to direct three more feature-length glass documentaries: Project 33 (2017): chronicling the work of Oregon Artist Marcel Braun; Art That Gives Back (2023): the story of the Michigan Glass Project, which will release at their event in September 2023; and most recently Slinger (2022): a portrait of the artist who originally introduced Collins to the world of glass art.
Currently in production on two exciting new documentary films about glass, Collins journeyed to the outskirts of Havana to document the nascent studio glass movement in Cuba, and hopes to complete his film, ¡FUEGO! soon.
Find the trailer here: https://youtu.be/UlKsyWLOqkY
Beginning in January 2023, Collins turned his lens on American glass master Paul Stankard, to produce an intimate artist portrait with the help of Stankard’s long-time colleague, David Graeber.
Collins’ work has won many awards, premiered at prestigious festivals, and been distributed internationally. He is also a published poet, recording artist, and faculty member at the traditional-arts nonprofit organization Common Ground on the Hill (McDaniel College, Westminster, MD) where he is the co-founder of the Common Ground Veterans Initiative, a program that promotes healing through the arts for combat veterans.
Comprised of hundreds of objects fabricated using multiple glass processes, Between Seeing and Knowing is a large-scale, site-specific installation by artists Anna Boothe and Nancy Cohen. The installation is on view now through February 5, 2023 at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin. Created as part of a collaborative residency that took place at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in 2012, the artwork has been previously exhibited at Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Philadelphia’s International Airport.
At its core, Between Seeing and Knowing is the result of both artists’ long-standing interest in and in-depth study of Tibetan Buddhist thangka paintings and the integration of their otherwise very separate studio practices. Thangkas are ordered cosmological paintings, often scrolls, created for the purpose of meditation and composed of numerous visual elements. This installation reinterprets the symbolism in the paintings to create new work that reflects the organizational structure and palette of the paintings, as well as the sense of expansiveness and lack of hard resolution characteristic of Buddhist ideology.
Boothe and Cohen state: “Overall, through this collaboration, its subject matter, and our chosen methodology, we seek to understand, both visually and viscerally, another cultural perspective or expression unlike our own, through our dissection and re-assemblage of elements unique to that culture. Just as collaboration brings forth the opportunity for a deep exchange of ideas and the development of sympathetic approaches to doing what one does, pragmatically and metaphorically, this is our attempt at bridging gaps between cultural approaches to explain the unexplainable.”
With degrees in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design and glass from Tyler School of Art/Temple University, Boothe has worked with glass since 1980. Included in the permanent collections of CMoG, Racine Art Museum and Tacoma Museum of Art, her cast glass work has been exhibited widely, including recently at the Albuquerque Art Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and the Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace in Venice, as well as at several villas in Italy’s Veneto Region.
Boothe taught in Tyler’s glass program for 16 years, helped develop and chaired Salem Community College’s glass art program and has exhibited and/or lectured internationally in Australia, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, as well as at numerous US universities and glass-focused schools. She served on the Board and as President of the Glass Art Society from 1998-2006 and is a former Director of Glass at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum.
With an MFA in Sculpture from Columbia University and a BFA in Ceramics from Rochester Institute of Technology, Cohen has been working with glass (among other materials) since 1990. Her work examines resiliency in relation to the environment and the human body. Cohen’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States and is represented in collections such as The Montclair Museum, The Weatherspoon Art Gallery, and The Zimmerli Museum. She has completed large-scale, site-specific projects for The Staten Island Botanical Garden, The Noyes Museum of Art, The Katonah Museum, Howard University, and others.
Recent solo exhibitions include Walking a Line at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Chelsea, New York, and Nancy Cohen: Atlas of Impermanence at the Visual Arts Center in Summit, New Jersey. Group exhibitions include All We Can Save: Climate Conversations at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Pennsylvania, and ReVision and Respond at The Newark Museum. Cohen is a 2022 recipient of a Mid-Atlantic Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She currently teaches drawing and sculpture at Queens College.
In a review of Boothe and Cohen’s collaborative project, Elizabeth Crawford of N.Y Arts Magazine, wrote: : “Intuitively proximate to Buddhist philosophy, the piece is about the inter-relatedness of things. Each glass part appears sentient and in direct communication with the others. In a Thangka painting, none of the forms are meant to be isolated but work together to invite the viewer to take the painting in at once, as a whole. Similarly, all of the pieces in Boothe and Cohen’s installation contribute to a sense of continuous breath or movement which is enhanced by light reflecting through the glass.” For this innovative work the artists used an astounding range of glass processes including kiln-casting, slumping, fusing, blowing, hot-sculpting and sand-casting.
This year, flameworking pioneer Paul Stankard will celebrate his 80th birthday. To commemorate more than six decades at the torch, the artist joined Talking Out Your Glass podcast for a return visit featuring a discussion about his contributions to glass and art, including his new book, Inspiration from the Art of Paul J. Stankard: A Window into My Studio and Soul.
Jack Wax, artist and head of the glass department at The Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, wrote the following about Stankard’s latest and fourth book:
“Paul Joseph Stankard is the living master of the art of the botanical paperweight. There ought not to be any argument as to where he stands in the history of this endeavor, an undertaking that dates back to the mid-19th century and the famed Venetian glassmaker Pietro Bigaglia. He has, as a noted autodidact, aimed at elevating the production of these objects to stratospheric heights. His patient and long-term focus on capturing the subtle beauty of blossoms before they fade, and of bouquets that never wilt, has brought to the world marvels of observation, obsession, fixation, and, importantly, of invention. There is a tendency for people to gaze in wonder and become infatuated when encountering “impossible objects” for the first time. This has been his purview.
That said, becoming a master in the world of 21st-century decorative art production might not ensure that your corollary endeavors—writing poetry and laying out the inexorably tied-up nature of beauty’s role in the success of an artwork—needs to be shared with posterity. Stankard’s voice is sincere and heartfelt. His choice of words is deeply weighed, his phrasing and pacing seriously considered. He is, after all, attempting to distill, out of the quickly dispersing mists of creativity, an essence, a tincture that will contain some drops of truth. That can, at times, become a dangerous area to interpret and translate for a broad swath of the population. Being great at one thing in no way guarantees that one is good at another…
If you pick this book up, you will assuredly spend time considering the beauty of Paul Stankard’s botanical images in glass. He is a genuinely passionate, sincerely earnest maker who cares deeply for the natural world and has devoted a lifetime to the true intricacies of what is visible—and what is not—for those who persevere and cultivate what may be revealed in the application of an extraordinarily sustained and amplified focus.”
Considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, Stankard’s work is represented in more than 75 museums around the world. Over his 40-year artistic journey, he has received two honorary doctorate degrees, an honorary associate’s degree, and many awards within the glass community, most recently the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian’s The James Renwick Alliance and the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the UrbanGlass Award—Innovation in a Glassworking Technique.
In 1961, Stankard enrolled in Salem County Vocational Technical Institute’s Scientific Glassblowing program (now Salem Community College). During his subsequent 10-year scientific glassblowing career, fabricating complex instruments was his focus. As head of the glass department at Rohn & Haas in Philadelphia, the artist began experimenting with floral paperweights as a hobby. The work was eventually noticed by art dealer Reese Palley at a craft expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in 1972, Stankard abandoned industry for art.
Stankard’s role as educator includes establishing the flameworking studio at Penland School of Craft, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and serving as a founding board member and President of The Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, New Jersey. The artist taught students in the US at Penland; the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington; and abroad at Kanaz Forest of Creation Japan with Hiroshi Yamano as well as at North Lands Creative, in the Scottish Highlands. He remains an Artist-in-Residence and Honorary Professor at Salem Community College, where he founded the International Flameworking Conference.
Now dividing his time between flameworking and writing, Stankard is the author of Inspiration from the Art of Paul J. Stankard: A Window into My Studio and Soul; an autobiography No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass; an educational resource Spark the Creative Flame: Making the Journey from Craft to Art; and Studio Craft as Career: A Guide to Achieving Excellence in Art-making.
In March 2023, Stankard will once again attend the International Flameworking Conference (IFC). He will also be instructing a workshop with Lucio Bubacco in May. IFC details are at www.salemcc.edu/ifc and workshop info is at https://salemcc.edu/glass/intensive-glass-workshop
In celebration of his 80th birthday, WheatonArts will host a Celebration of the Life & Work of Paul J. Stankard, Saturday, May 20, 2023. Click link below for the latest information. Campus-wide activities will be highlighted by collaborative Glass Studio demonstrations with Stankard and friends, curator tours of the Museum of American Glass featuring Amber Cowan’s solo exhibit Alchemy of Adornment, and special fare catered by Feast Your Eyes Catering. Proceeds benefit the WheatonArts Glass Studio programs. Dan Collins – documentary filmmaker with strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass Movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement – filmed Stankard for a documentary that will be shown in May at the WheatonArts event. The film includes the artist creating a piece from his Celestial Bouquet series. Stankard’s work will be exhibited at the Morris Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, in Morristown, New Jersey, in early 2023.