With glass as her medium and lost wax casting as her primary technique, Anja Isphording creates idiosyncratic sculptures familiar enough for us to recognize that they are inspired by nature, yet rarely resembling anything that we have actually encountered. Her intimate-scale objects, tactile and rich with deeply saturated colors, are reminiscent of basic molecular structures, honeycombs or coral reefs, but their biological reference remains ambiguous.
In Germany, Isphording’s early glass engraving studies in the 1980s with FS Zwiesel and Franz X Hoeller were followed by a stint as an engraving instructor at the summer school Bild-Werk, Frauenau. She founded her first studio in Helminghausen, Germany, in 1989, but relocated to Vancouver, BC, Canada, in 2000 and switched her focus to casting.
Isphording’s work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States, and collected by museums worldwide, including the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Museum of American Glass, Wheaton, NJ; Glass Museum Kamenicky Senov, Czech Republic; Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt; and Kuntsgewerbemuseum, Berlin Germany, among others. She has been juried into New Glass Review – the Corning Museum of Glass’ prestigious annual survey of cutting-edge glass – an unprecedented 10 times.
Many consider Isphording’s intimate sculptures among the most intriguing objects ever made from glass. They embody reverence for nature’s mysteries and explore the patterns and structures of nature without ever literally reproducing them. Often they evoke a mood as much as an image. Plants and marine creatures may echo in the forms, but ultimately, they are guided by the artist’s exquisite imagination.
Isphording’s awards include 1998-2001 scholarships at Pilchuck Glass School, WA; 1995 scholarship at the Creative Glass Center of America, Wheaton Village, NJ; 1993-1994 scholarship at the Academy of Applied Arts, class Vladimir Kopecky, Prague, Czech Republic; 2011-2012 prizes in TGK Competition, Germany; 2004 Artist of the Month, Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass; 2001 prize, WG at BE Exhibition, Portland, OR; 1993 Bayrischer Staatspreis; and 1986 prize, Leistungswettbewerb der Handwerksjugend, Germany.
First modeled full-size in wax and then cast in glass, Isphording’s intricate compositions often require multiple firings. When finished, the sculptures have a tactile quality and emotional range that sets them apart from contemporary trends and renders them timeless. Each piece takes months to create – follow this link to learn more about her process. Demanding technical challenges coupled with the complexity of her forms conspire to limit her output.
This Friday, August 18 – September 1, 2023, Heller Gallery in NYC will present Isphording’s latest sculptures as part of their summer pop-up series titled Rotations.
Art and technology share a symbiotic grace in the glass spacecraft, rockets, and scientific apparatus of Rik Allen. Most of his work is made primarily of glass and metal, which expresses a paradoxical symbiosis. The relationship between the rigid strength of metal with the inherent fragility of glass creates an alluring tension. While many of his pieces reference his curiosity about science, they also convey humor, simple narratives, and a lightheartedness that is embodied in much of science fiction’s antiquated vision of the future. The theme of “futuristic antiquity” reflects Allen’s interest in the literary fictional worlds of Jules Vern, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clark, and Isaac Asimov and their influence on the scientific community. His sculpture is also inspired by the accounts of early scientific pioneers of the 19 and 20th centuries, such as Nicola Tesla, Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun, and other great scientific minds.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Allen earned a BA in Anthropology from Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire. His earliest and formative glass studio experiences and education came as a studio assistant in Providence, working with a number of wonderful artists to include Daniel Clayman, James Watkins, and Michael Scheiner. Allen relocated to Washington in 1994, where he joined the William Morris team at the Pilchuck Glass School for 13 years, specializing in engraving, cutting, and finishing glass sculpture.
Allen has had numerous solo exhibitions of his sculptures throughout the country, including at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, the Museum of Northwest Art, Traver Gallery, Blue Rain Gallery, Schantz Gallery, and Duncan McClellan Gallery. His sculptures have been acquired for a number of public and private collections, including Glass Museum in Tacoma, Imagine Museum, Toyoma Institute of Glass, Blue Origin, Boeing, Amazon and SpaceX. In 2016, his work appeared in a feature cover story published by American Craft magazine and in 2018, he was awarded “Grand Artist of the future” by Imagine Museum.
In 2005, Allen established a glass and sculpture studio with his wife, artist Shelley Muzylowski Allen at their property in Skagit County, Washington. In addition to being artists, the couple has taught internationally at the Toyama Institute of Glass in Toyama, Japan, and the International Glass Festival in Stourbridge, England. They have also taught nationally, including the Penland School of Craft, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and at Pilchuck Glass School.
A lifelong Star Trek devotee – whose earliest memories of creation involved making scotch tape and cardboard phasers and communicators – Allen was contacted by Eugene (Rod) Roddenberry, son of Star Trekcreator Gene Roddenberry and current spokesman for Trekkies everywhere. Intrigued by Allen’s work after seeing a piece one of his friends owned, Roddenberry commissioned a sculpture of the original series’ Starship Enterprise. The sculpture was to reflect the basic design of the original Enterprise, but also incorporate Allen’s personality into a sculpture that was of his own original design and overall interpretation.
Allen, in collaboration with wife Shelley, has created and will install two large public sculptures, Sticken (the Orchard Octopus) in September, and Heronious One in November in Bellevue, Washington. He will have an exhibition of new work in spring 2024 at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and will collaborate with Dave Walters this fall.