Architectural glass artist Elizabeth Devereaux traveled across the globe looking for an international education in art and architecture, from San Rafael to Vienna, then Munich. She founded her California studio in 1969, and more than 50 years later is an accomplished architectural glass artist with works installed all over the US and Canada.
Devereaux states: “In an architectural setting, I always like to work in a site-specific way, noting the place and region itself, as well as the architectural style the artwork is in, the light, the interior and exterior environment. I work collaboratively, which then requires me to listen to the client/committee’s story, to define their identity and understand what has meaning for them, and then to synthesize all of the information within my own style and artistic vision.”
One of Devereaux’s most notable liturgical commissions, Christ Cathedral Memorial Gardens, Garden Grove, California, is located at an architectural pilgrimage destination. The Cathedral buildings are designed by three of the 20th century’s most significant architects – Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra, and Richard Meier. The new Memorial Gardens’ focus was to be “The Risen Christ” worshiped by two angels. It needed to be highly visible from the exterior, giving reference to life’s journey and connecting Baptism (in the Cathedral) to death and resurrection (in the Mausoleum). Relying on reflective light, 24-carat gold luster paint allowed the windows to be clearly seen from the Cathedral opposite, as well as in the Mausoleum, which was flanked by 12 large panels of amber stained and shaded clear glass. These 12 panels were fabricated by Derix Studio in Germany; the rest of the commission was fabricated in Devereaux’s Chico studio. Forty-four clerestory windows created in mouthblown cobalt streaky on clear German Lamberts glass link the interior rooms. Between each are prisms referring to the tower at the Cathedral.
In another major liturgical project, at Our Lady of New Clairvaux Abbey, Vina, California, Devereaux expressed The Cistercian charism of simplicity in a contemporary style with a reference to its ancient history. The new monastery at New Clairvaux was originally a 12th-century monastery in Northern Spain. In the early 1930s William Randolph Hearst bought the monastery and imported it to California. Shortly afterwards, the Great Depression and World War II made it impossible for Hearst to build it, and he deeded it to the City of San Francisco. There it languished for 40 years behind the De Young Museum until Father Thomas Davis, a young monk newly arrived to the New Clairvaux Monastery, heard the story and had a vision of acquiring the stones for the new Abbey. The Abbey consulted with British and Spanish historians, and hired German stone carvers to re-form and recut the missing stones.
The art glass in 12-century European Cistercian monasteries is abstract, simple, and often soft amber and white in color. Devereaux’s windows appear simple at first glance, but in fact, are complex in their fabrication. The Fremont Antique glass was custom mouthblown to shade from white opak to clear, allowing the exterior landscape to be part of the design. It was also painted and kiln-fired with amber stain, then intersected vertically with handmade prisms. Since the monks worship during the day and night, the artist painted and fired a reflective 24-carat gold luster pattern onto the surface, bringing the translation of New Clairvaux or “Valley of Light” to life.
In San Francisco, for Noe Valley Ministry’s Coming to the Center window, Devereaux selected triple-flashed, mouth-blown glass, which was etched to the clear layer to portray the constellations. The transition from “sky” to “center” was accomplished by selecting custom blown rose to clear and purple to aqua glass. This allowed the glass to be sprayed and fired with orange luster, creating the subtle transition from lavender to amber. The amber “center” was leaded and laminated front and back with lead “overlay” “branches” to reference beloved artist Ruth Azawa’s twig-like cross in the sanctuary. The center spiral links to the labyrinth in the space.
Devereaux explains: “I always loved transparency—working with watercolor, silkscreen, overlaying color. When I discovered glass, I realized the incredible aspects of painting with light. Mouth-blown textures and color can be designed to meet direct sunlight and be projected in mysterious ways across the interior space. Or if the window is facing an unwanted view, it is possible to use translucent glass, allowing light in, but not the view or the glare. I also love the use of reflective materials, polished metals, in conjunction with glass, but sometimes mirror, and 24-carat gold, silver, and platinum lusters sprayed and fired onto glass. This allows the window to have a nightlife, different from the day. I also love pattern, making a “logo” or distillation of the meaning of the commission, then repeating it into a fabric woven into the artwork.”
Devereaux has always been active in her architectural and liturgical communities, serving on the National Advisory Board of Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture (IFRAA), a Knowledge Community of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) from 2009- 2014 and as a Juror for Faith & Forum/ IFRAA Religious Art & Awards, Seattle, WA, 2005. Her own IFRAA and Faith and Form awards include: 2018 Honor Award for Religious Art in New Clairvaux Abbey, Vina, CA; 2018 Codaworx Liturgical Art Award, Holy Family Catholic Church, Fond du Lac, WI.; 2008 Design Merit Award, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Westlake Village, CA; 2006 Design Honor Award, Blessed Trinity, Frankenmuth, MI; 1992 Visual Arts Award, St. Joseph Cathedral, San Jose, CA. She has also been presented with Ministry & Liturgy Annual Visual Art Awards, Bene & Best of Show in 2008, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1992.
Devereaux’s non-liturgical commissions are numerous and include New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, Las Vegas, New Mexico, for which she won a Public Art Award; George Sim Community Center, Sacramento, California, Public Art Award; and Chico City Plaza, Chico, California, Design consultant team and Public Art Award. Her present commission is Dignity French Hospital Swanson Chapel in San Luis Obispo, CA, and includes 700 square feet of laminated art glass.
Devereaux and her studio crew – Owen Gabbert, longtime project manager, Marie Swanson, Devereaux’s son, Chris Tallant, and nephew, Abraham Devereaux – are responsible for many public art, hospital, and corporate commissions. Though her studio’s main focus remains liturgical commissions, every window designed is site specific and custom made for that specific place. Devereaux knows how to listen and let inspiration find her, in a melding of her talent with the soul of each location.
Capitalizing on the ways glass can be arranged in and flows from a crucible, Nathan Sandberg creates reproducible decorative cane and murrine using the Vitrigraph Kiln. His work showcases these elements in a variety of artistic applications and furnishings. When not in his North Portland studio creating work or getting ready for an exhibition, Sandberg can be found presenting modern, innovative curriculum in kilnformed glass at a wide variety of studios and schools around the globe.
In 2003, Sandberg received his BFA in glass and ceramics from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. After working at private glassblowing studios and independently furthering his education in kiln-glass, he joined Bullseye Glass Co. in 2005. As a member of the company’s Research & Education team, he taught and developed courses and online educational videos as well as assisted visiting artists. Beginning at the Bullseye factory in 2009, the artist began exploring modern Vitrigraph methods that have become the primary techniques used in the creation of his work.
Sandberg creates glass panes that are full of movement and repeated patterns that gently guide the viewer’s eyes through the work. He states: “Our world is complex. And I realize that occasionally we simply need a pleasant view in order to escape some of the ugliness and take ourselves somewhere healthier, even if only for a moment.”
In 2012, Sandberg founded Nathans LLC. This educational entrepreneurship helped establish him as one of the top kiln-glass educators in the world, sending him on teaching adventures from Santa Fe to Zurich and Australia to Norway. In 2015, Nathans LLC moved out of the basement and into a proper studio space in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. Today, Sandberg uses OnGrade Studio as his home base and can be found there relentlessly producing work for exhibitions and developing new curriculum to teach on the road and online.
Using primarily glass, Sandberg’s installations commonly make use of other materials such as wood, metal and concrete. His artwork can be found in private and public collections around the world and has received critical recognition through awards, exhibitions, and art fairs, including Glazen Huis in Lommel, Belgium, 2nd Place Non-Functional, Academic Award WG@BE3: E-merge, Bullseye Connection Gallery and SOFA Chicago. Sandberg worked with Gabriela Wilson as part of an Instructor Collaborative Residency at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass in September 2019. The duo explored the traditional hot shop methods of pulling cane to compare and contrast the process with Vitrigraph methods.
Currently, Sandberg operates an 8’ x 10’ waterjet two days a week and says this equipment will revolutionize what is possible in kilnformed glass. The artist is also in the design phase of a glass shingle backsplash for a 30-foot-tall residential waterfall project. His artwork will be on view at Guardino Gallery in Portland in September 2023 and in October at the Pittsburgh Glass Center with Amanda Simmons, Nancy Callan, Mel Douglas and Corey Pemberton in an exhibition titled Pattern.
Exploring the separation between reality and the imaginary through the use of miniatures and glass sculpture, John Sharvin draws the viewer into a new and intimate realm, reminiscent of a shadowbox or dollhouse. These dreamlike worlds create deceptive memories and locations for the viewer to reflect on as recollection of a place or memory is often distorted through the lens of time. One wonders what is conjured and what is true.
Working in glass since late 2008, Sharvin graduated from The Ohio State University in 2012 with a BFA in glass. He stayed in Columbus for a few years working in galleries, doing public glass demonstrations and tutoring students until he took a technician apprenticeship at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) in 2014. There, he curated his first exhibition, Silica Valley, for which he developed a theme, selected the artists, titled the exhibition, and did all of the installation and lighting. The result was a show that revealed the possibilities of combining an ancient material like glass with 21st-century processes like 3D printing.
Utilizing digital fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and CNC milling in his own work, Sharvin creates unique and unexpected forms in glass that include not only surrealist landscapes and motifs, but glass animals infused with detail, realism, and a hint of cuteness. He has exhibited at several galleries including Fuller Craft Museum, Lake Erie Art Museum, and Hawk Galleries, and his work has been published in New Glass Review and Dwell Magazine.
Following two successful seasons of Blown Away, Sharvin applied to be cast in Season 3. Nine other contestants joined him at North America’s largest hot shop in Hamilton, Ontario, to create and exhibit glass work directed by briefs that included topics such as outer space, the circus, and Seven Deadly Sins. In each episode, the glassblowers had to impress the evaluators or risk being eliminated. At stake was a life-changing prize that could send their careers to new heights.
Sharvin states: “Things were not going my way, and I saw this as a great opportunity to change up my life.”
Participating in the six-week show required Sharvin and the other contestants to come up with a fully articulated design, talk about it, write about it and then make it in “the hottest studio” ever. Competing against each other for $60,000 in prizes, the contestants filmed 10 episodes in succession, getting only one day off during the six-week shoot due to the tight production schedule.
Sharvin said: “Being a contestant on Blown Away Season 3 was an incredible experience. It was hot and challenging but was a truly life-changing time for me.”
Leaving his full-time employment at PGC in mid 2022 to be a full-time artist, Sharvin now applies to public art projects and is establishing his CNC mold-making business. His current work is on view now in UNDEFINED, which runs until July 30, 2023, at PGC, along with the work of fellow Blown Away Season 3 contestants John Moran and Minhi England.
In 2021, Sharvin, England, and Moran were gathered in a backstage production set with seven other familiar faces. Each participant was invited to compete hoping to find new opportunities and to open creative pathways into new beginnings. Five weeks later, these three were the remaining finalists. Though Sharvin, England and Moran initially came together as competitors, their shared experiences on the show influenced comradery and mutual support. Since the premiere of the series, they have stayed in touch artistically through PGC’s Artist Residency program, giving them an opportunity to collaborate as artists. This collaborative exhibition contradicts the notion of competition in the glass world.
With her unique sculptural works, Ann Wolff holds a distinguished place as one of the world’s leading artists working with glass. She applies her strongly personal approach to bronze, aluminum and concrete sculpture, as well as to drawing, pastel work and photography. From April through October 2022, Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, one of Sweden’s most popular art museums, presented a solo exhibition of Wolff’s work in several techniques and media from the year 2000 until the present day. VOGUE Scandinavia nominated the show as one of the 10 best fall exhibitions in Scandinavia. It was also the largest showing of her work presented in Sweden.
Wolff states: “I have seen my works in painting, stone, bronze, concrete, and glass as equal in status. Sometimes I feel that my strongest works might be in paper, charcoal and pastels.”
She continues: “I feel as a human being out of time. The notion of self and hence identity, grips me, disturbs me and motivates me. Everything comes from that. My interest in the self includes the others. It is clear that in the way that one carries out one’s work, something like a self expresses itself. And this self is guided by constantly developing insights. The insights can be very unclear but can still be the inspiration behind a work. I am testing out old questions of identity; be it inside-outside, symmetry, layers and core, number two and the double, the goat and the monkey. Moments of recognition are what my work needs, they propel me forward. Collected moments of clarity become knowledge.”
Born in Germany in 1937, Wolff studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (University of Design and Art) in Ulm, Germany, then worked as a designer in Sweden. For many years, she designed for the Kosta Boda glassworks, during which time she also pursued an independent career as a studio artist. Currently living and working on the Baltic island of Gotland, Sweden, she is the recipient of several internationally prestigious distinctions including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Glass Art Society and the PRO EUROPA Foundation’s European Culture Prize. She has been honored with numerous international awards, among them the renowned Coburger Glaspreis (1977), the Bayerischen Staatspreis (1988), the Jurypreis of the Toledo Museum of Art (2005), and the Award of Excellence of the Smithsonian Renwick Collection, Washington, DC (2008). The Swedish Royal family has acquired several of her works.
As one of the founders of the international Studio Glass movement, Wolff was at the center of attention as early as end of the 1960s. Her initiation into the American Studio Glass movement came at the invitation of Marvin Liposfsky and Dale Chihuly. Early days at Pilchuck sharing ideas and techniques revealed to her a new reality – one in which she was respected as an artist not a designer.
Wolff States: “The Studio Glass movement from the United States burst in on my work – my isolation – in the mid 1960s. I was astonished and thrilled by the freedom with which glass was handled there. An immense curiosity about the unused potential and the broad possibilities of the new material for art: glass. It has to fit into the framework of art in general, though. For me, art is the deciding factor. The path I took shows that I intensely wanted to express my life in pictures, clarify things for myself. Of course, I could have started in a quite different medium – painting, sculpture, film – but it became glass.”
In her 50-year career, Wolff repeatedly created works that made people think. With glass, she allowed the world to glance at her esthetic sentimentality, and she also created homogenous objects. Ever recurring themes predominant in her work are womanhood and habitation expressed through objects that are mostly monochrome, often in warm earthy tones. Dance-theater was a strong inspiration, and she was allowed to attend rehearsals with Pina Bausch, made views from what she saw there and then formed glass objects.
Wolff brings out the special characteristics of glass: contours, surfaces, the relation between inside and outside. She makes inner landscapes visible. What lies behind the mask? The artist has asked herself this question again and again over the years. The psychology behind the facade is a regular theme of her works. Investigating further the subject of Wolff’s blown and engraved bowls and cast sculptures, one finds that the relationships between women as friends, and as mothers and daughters, and the role of women in society deeply concern her. She writes: “It is natural to take oneself as one’s starting point. The situation of women partly determines who I am and leads me to pose particular questions.”