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Talking Out Your Glass podcast

As editor of Glass Art magazine from 1987 to March 2019, Shawn Waggoner has interviewed and written about multitudes of the world’s greatest artists working glass in the furnace, torch, and on the table. Rated in iTunes News and Noteworthy in 2018, Talking Out Your Glass continues to evolve, including interviews with the nation’s finest borosilicate artists making both pipes and sculpture on the torch. Other current topics include how to work glass using sustainable practices and how artists address the topics of our times such as climate change, the political chasm, and life in the age of technology.
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Your Podcast Source for Interviews and Information on

Hot, Warm and Cold Glass!

www.glassartmagazine.com

Feb 24, 2022

Alexander Rosenberg rose to national prominence following his incredible run on the Netflix glassblowing series Blown Away, where he was among the final three contestants. His laid-back attitude, intelligence, and commitment to mining the history of the form and genre for deeper connections and stories left a lasting impression on viewers. This attention to the philosophy and historical detail of glass sets Rosenberg apart – not only on the show, but in his studio practice.

Glass is at once archaic and high tech – a mixture of poetry and functionality. On Blown Away, Rosenberg often strayed into the realm of historical and scientific objects like beakers and containers for exotic plants. He won the first challenge and a Pilchuck residency with his Lachrymatory, a “tear-filled” vessel that magnified like a lens a photo of his late dog, Cleo. He capitalized on the material’s absence, allowing us to see the inside and outside of an object simultaneously.

Wrote Ben Dreith, for Nuvo: “Rosenberg’s preference for exploring glass’ possibilities for modulating light rather than straying into a heavy use of color gives his work an elegance appropriate for both the art gallery and the historical or interior design collector—putting him somewhere between mad scientist and aesthete.”

An artist, educator and writer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Rosenberg received a Master of Science in Visual Studies from MIT and a BFA in glass from Rhode Island School of Design. His artistic practice is rooted in the study of glass as a material, in conjunction with broad interdisciplinary investigation crossing over into many other media and research areas. The artist pursues his practice though residencies, teaching, performances and exhibitions locally and internationally. 

The recipient of the 2012 International Glass Prize and 2019 Awesome Foundation Grant, Rosenberg was also awarded The Sheldon Levin Memorial Residency at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, A Windgate Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, The Esther & Harvey Graitzer Memorial Prize, UArts FADF Grant, and the deFlores Humor Fund Grant (MIT). He has participated in residencies at Recycled Artist in Residence (RAIR), The MacDowell Colony, Wheaton Arts, Urban Glass, Vermont Studio Center, StarWorks, Pilchuck Glass School, GlazenHuis in Belgium, Rochester Institute of Technology, Radical Heart (Detroit), and Worcester Craft Center. He was a founding member of Hyperopia Projects (2010 – 2018), headed the glass program at University of the Arts (2010 – 2017), and was an artist member of Vox Populi gallery (2012 – 2015). After teaching at Salem Community College, he has recently taken a position at Wheaton Arts as Glass Studio director.

Through the masterful use of colorless glass, Rosenberg asks probing, existential questions about the use and value of specialized handcraft in contemporary society. His art practice includes projects such as 2.6 Cents an Hour (2006), for which the artist created his own version of currency, produced by casting lead crystal, then  applying a chemical coating that gave the coins a metallic appearance. Rosenberg states: “I was excited about the prospect of some stranger getting these coins as they entered circulation. But I was also thinking about how to measure the worth of skilled labor.”

In Repertoire (2011–12), using glasses and vessels he made during demos while teaching, Rosenberg created an arrangement that, when lit correctly, cast a shadow onto the wall that perfectly resembled a man with an exaggerated erection lying down. Rosenberg says: “I started thinking about shadows as a new medium to explore. I had a hard time showing this work because I couldn’t teach anyone else to install it. I tried working with a studio assistant, thinking that if I could teach one person to assemble the work, then maybe there could be a way to get people to install it elsewhere. But nobody ever could. The piece won a prize from Glazenhuis, Belgium in 2012, and part of the deal was that they were supposed to acquire the work. But they told me they couldn’t, since nobody could install it. They just wrote me a check instead.”

Rosenberg continues: “I usually feel more comfortable pairing these technical exercises with something more self-effacing, and I wanted to poke fun at the machismo one often encounters in the hot shop.” The work was shown once more at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark­. On the last day, visitors were invited to take one piece home, until all that was left was the one long, vertical shadow. 

Currently making a chandelier out of automotive waste and glass, Rosenberg also has an ongoing exhibition at the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. He compares working with glass to the highly focused mental state of flow defined by psychologist and professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, whose research examined people who did activities for pleasure, even when they were not rewarded with money or fame. He considered artists, writers, athletes, chess masters, and surgeons – individuals who were involved in activities they preferred. He was surprised to discover that enjoyment did not result from relaxing or living without stress, but during these intense activities, in which their attention was fully absorbed. Glass continues to be an essential ingredient in Rosenberg’s flow.