From their trademark blown vessel forms to more recent large castings, Hunting Studio of Princeton, Wisconsin, uses glass and its myriad mysteries to tell stories of unapologetic beauty and celebration of color. The work of this father-son team, Wes Sr. and Wesley Hunting, is on view now through February 4, 2024 in Directing the Flow: The Art of Wes Hunting, at the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass (BMM) in Neenah, Wisconsin. The studio was awarded First Place and a solo show at the Museum following its 2022 Glass Arts Festival.
States BMM Executive Director, Amy Moorefield: “The Huntings create blown and cast glass vessels and sculpture featuring colorful palettes and murrine inspired by past and present creations of artists working in Murano, Italy. Through the process of painting with colored glass and cold surface cutting, Hunting’s newest creations invite the viewer to gaze inward into miniature worlds, paying homage to the aesthetics of overlay paperweights.”
Hunting Sr. studied under glass artist Henry Halem while attending Kent State from 1975 to 1979. He served as an assistant to Richard Ritter and has taught at the University of Kansas, Tennessee College of Crafts, Florida Keys Community College, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Hunting Studio’s work can be found in museum collections internationally to include the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin; The White House, Washington D.C.; the Krasl Art Center, St. Joseph, Michigan; the Windhover Center for the Arts, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin; the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona; the Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa; the Museum of American Glass, Millville, New Jersey; the Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, North Carolina; Cafesjian Museum of Art, Armenia; The Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington; and The Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi. Hunting corporate collections include Bank One, The Hyatt Corporation, The Standard Oil Company and The Quaker Oat Company, to name just a few.
In the early 1980s, a trip to Penland School of Craft in North Carolina and travel through Italy set Wes Sr. on the path he continues on today. His studio visits with artists such as Mark Peiser, Billy Bernstein, Gary Beecham, Steve Edwards, Rob Levin, and Harvey Littleton and witnessing the millefiori process of the Italian masters helped refine his own goals in glass. Now as his son assumes increasingly more responsibilities at their studio, new ideas and bodies of work are fleshed out, investigated and introduced to their enthusiastic collectors. From their early Colorfield series, the artists have expanded into new aesthetic territory in the creation of their Optical series, Remnantseries and Castings.
Says Wes Sr.: “We are always striving to take the work to a new level of intensity. It has developed into a way for me to express myself by painting with molten glass. There is no other material like glass. The colors are totally unique as they can be transparent or opalescent. The way light passes through colored glasses adds a third dimension that cannot be duplicated by any other material.”
A pioneer in the field of knitted glass, Carol Milne combines passion for knitting with experience in sculpture. The artist began working with kiln cast lead crystal, experimenting with different methods and developing a lost wax process to cast individual knitted works into glass. Playing with translucency and the material’s ability to highlight a prismatic range of hues, light is essential to Milne’s body of work, and she has recently been working on pieces that focus on illumination.
States Milne: “I see my knitted work as metaphor for social structure. Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together. You can crack or break single threads without the whole structure falling apart. And even when the structure is broken, pieces remain bound together. The connections are what bring strength and integrity to the whole and what keep it intact.”
Receiving a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Guelph, Canada, in 1985, Milne realized in her senior year that she was more interested in sculpture than landscape. After casting iron around glass in graduate school, she experimented with many materials: clay, bronze, concrete, wood, glass, epoxy, fiberglass, mosaic and found objects. In 2000, she returned to glass and has been working primarily with the material ever since.
In 2006, Milne created her Knitted Glass, incorporating the techniques of knitting, lost wax casting, mold making and kiln casting. Her unique process involves knitting the original art piece using wax strands, surrounding the wax with a heat-tolerant refractory material, removing the wax by melting it out, thus creating a mold; and placing the mold in a kiln where lead crystal frit is heated to 1530 degrees F, melting the glass into the mold. After it has cooled, the mold material is removed to reveal the finished piece within.
Collected internationally, Milne’s work garnered the Silver Award at the International Exhibition of Glass, Kanazawa, Japan; the Juror’s award, All Things Considered 9: Basketry in the 21st Century, National Basketry Organization; Special Citation and Honorable Mention, the 9th Cheongju International Craft Juried Competition, Cheongju, Republic of Korea; the Joan Eliot Sappington Award for On the Fringe: Today’s Twist on Fiber Art, Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts; and Honorable Mention purchase award, Art of Our Century, UVU Woodbury Art Museum, Orem, UT.. Recent exhibitions include Carol Milne: Knit Wit, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art in 2019; Vogue Knitting LIVE! Seattle, Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, WA; and Carol Milne: Knitting Glass, Schiepers Gallery, Hasselt, Belgium, both in 2017.
Milne’s collectors include Amazon Headquarters, Seattle, WA; Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; Glasmuseum Lette, Coesfeld, Germany; The Glass Furnace, Istanbul, Turkey; Gustav Selter GmbH & Co KG, Germany; The Kamm Teapot Foundation, Sparta, NC; MusVerre Nord, Sars Poteries, France; Notojima Glass Art Museum, Ishikawa, Japan; and UVU Woodbury Art Museum, Orem, UT. She has published three e-books: In the Name of Love; Knitted Glass: Kiln-cast Lead Crystal Bowls; and Glass Slippers. Carol Milne Knitted Glass: How Does She Do That?, authored by Steve Isaacson, is available as an e-book and in paperback
Through her original work in knitted glass, Milne has blazed a new artistic path. Bringing the visual illusion of softness and drape to a material that is fixed in its final form, her work encourages closer inspection to reveal the nuances of her designs.
Says Milne: “I’ve knitted since I was 10, but knitting wasn’t a career path – or at least it didn’t seem like one. I studied landscape architecture as a bridge between engineering and design. But I became captivated by earthworks and kinetic art, which lead me to sculpture. Glass is very much like kinetic sculpture, since it changes with the light.”
Through different bodies of work – socks, shoes, baskets, hands knitting themselves – Milne addresses themes including the circle of life, the disconnect between appearance versus reality, black humor and visual puns. If the work wasn’t challenging, she says, she would get bored and quit making it. “But in working with glass, scale is the biggest challenge. Large work requires large molds. Large molds are difficult to make, and heavy to move once they’re made,” explains Milne.
This month, Milne will have an open studio during REFRACT: The Seattle Glass Experience, October 14 from 11 to 4 p.m. She will exhibit a new body of work in an upcoming solo show, Knotty and Nice, at Culture Object gallery in NYC. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on October 18. Three of her Grenade pieces are on view in an ongoing group show called Like Mother, now through November 2 at the Helen S. Smith Gallery at Green River College, Washington. Milne will teach Knitted Glass from November 4 to 6 and 10 and Casting Hands, November 8 to 9 at Milkweed Arts, Phoenix, Arizona. In 2024, she will exhibit at the Gala Opening of Chasen Gallery’s new location at The Mark in Sarasota, FL, on January 20 and participate in Blue Spiral 1 Gallery’s Glass Invitational, November 2 – December 25, 2024 in Asheville, NC.