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.