“To have even a brief conversation with artist Michael E. Taylor is to dive headfirst into a deep pool of scientific and intellectual inquiry. Taylor has always been an extremely analytical artist, responding with equal fervor to his intellectual encounters with scientific ideas, art history, philosophy, or current events. Whether inspired by formal quality of geometry, the Higgs boson particle, or the moral implications of artificial intelligence, Taylor’s work is ultimately about investigation.” – Museum of Glass, Tacoma, solo show, Traversing Parallels, 2017/2018.
Widely-renowned for his cut and laminated glass works, geometric constructions, and fractal abstractions inspired by everything from subatomic particles to music, Michael E. Taylor first used glass while attending a workshop at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. He was struck by the material’s heat and spontaneity, a dynamic opposite from the deliberate and extended processes for firing and shaping ceramics. Dedicated to art and education for over 49 years, the artist was born in Lewisberg, Tennessee, in 1944, where he initially studied ceramics while working towards a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Tennessee State University. Studying ceramics honed his intuitive sense of form, color, and design; skills which would later be important to his glass career.
One of the first generation of artists to learn from the founders of the Studio Glass movement, Taylor experienced the early days of glass through interactions with Harvey Littleton, Fritz Dreisbach, and Marvin Lipofsky. As a young student, a Fulbright Hayes Grant to Scandinavia introduced him to the factories of Kosta-Boda Glasbruke and Johansfors Glasbruke, as well as artists of the region, including Anna Warff.
Taylor’s artistic career has been intertwined with decades as a university professor, including a more than 20-year tenure as a professor in the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology, invited Professor at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciencias e Tecnologia, Campus da Caprica, Portugal, 2005 – 2013, and instructor at schools in the US such as Pilchuck, Penland, and the Corning Museum of Glass. His career in academia made it possible to experiment and explore new ideas through his sculpture instead of feeling pressure to repeat popular works for monetary sales. The academic setting also allowed Taylor to continue to explore scientific, philosophical, and artistic ideas.
While at the College of Idaho and teaching the history of modern art, Taylor’s directive led to political and visual expressions of the Russian revolution and artists of constructivism. The hard lines and acute angles of constructivism of the 1920s continued to scientific theory and theoretical physics. Using glass with scientific exactness and austerity resulted in further architectural form and shapes of accuracy. Readings of future science and cultural futurism led to issues of DNA and binary systems as they related to laminations in his work.
Taylor states: “Art reflects thought and ideals of the period in which it is made. It can relate to predictions for the future. My work speaks of the importance of science and technology and its eventual dominance through Artificial Intelligence.”
Taylor’s honors and awards are many and include the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Grant, 2009, 2011; Luso – American Foundation Grant, Portugal, 2002 -2007; Outstanding Visual Artist Award, Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester, New York, 2001; College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, Research and Development Grant, RIT, 2000; Grand Prize, The International Exhibition of Glass, Kanazawa, Japan, 1988; National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Artists Forums Grant, 1985-86 and Visual Artist Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, 1984-85. Other educational awards and opportunities include a Lewis Comfort Tiffany Grant, Penland School Scholarship, and The American – Scandinavian Foundation Grant.
His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; the National Collection of American Art, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington; Asheville Museum of Art, North Carolina; Racine Museum of Art, Racine, Wisconsin; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Glas Museum Ebeltoft, Ebeltoft, Denmark; Kanazawa City Museum, Kanazawa, Japan; and Tokyo Glass Art Institute, Kawasaki-Shi, Japan, to name only a few.
Inviting viewers to utilize scientific-like observations to analyze the implications of a rapidly changing world, Taylor’s sculpture is both triumphant and cautionary, simultaneously celebrating technological breakthroughs and worrying about their implications. By using glass to make these theoretical connections, the artist inspires contemplation of social and scientific issues and continues to take the material of glass into new expressive terrain.
States Taylor: “The race is on in all technological advanced countries for the discovery of human consciousness for AI. I predict it will be the last frontier of human intellect. I have constructed a laminated slab of color blocks which represent the codes for the human consciousness. I see it as a kind of Rosetta Stone of translation from one language to another – binary to English. The RS interpretation of Egyptian hieroglyphics to Greek language allowed us to make the intellectual and cultural jump.
“I see Codes as containing the information for making the final leap from human consciousness to that of machines. This will be a discovery of epic proportions. This would be the beginning of a new world of solutions to puzzles such as eternal life, interplanetary travel, and the discovery of philosophic truth for each individual human.”
Throughout Kathy Jordan’s career, education via workshops and hands-on experience has kept her approach to glass fresh and informed. Her training is the beneficial byproduct of many workshops, including a decade of Richard Millard’s glass painting instruction held at his Antrim School in New Hampshire, intensive China painting study, and master instruction internationally. Antrim inspired Jordan to teach others by providing the same kind of camaraderie combined with intensive glass painting instruction. Jordan states: “If I had gone to an art college or university when I graduated high school, I would not be involved in glass today. My education has been unconventional, but most certainly degree worthy.”
At home in Media, Pennsylvania, Jordan is wife, mother, and artist. The success of her studio, The Art of Glass, Inc.,rested upon her multifaceted talents in visual arts, historical research, technology, and entrepreneurship. Jordan’s studio completed projects in churches and public spaces from Barbados to Maine, 95 percent of which were restorations. Though restoration painting is her forte, in 2013 she painted and fabricated seven new windows for St. Joseph Church in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. The largest, a panoramic baptism scene, measured 560 square feet. The late Charles Z. Lawrence, who created five windows for the Washington National Cathedral, designed the windows and selected glass for the project.
Over the last three decades, Jordan has been involved with many notable restoration projects by Tiffany, LaFarge, Clayton and Bell, Mayer of Munich, Lalique, and other historically significant artists/ studios. Many of these jobs were carried out in collaboration with Femenella & Associates, including seven Tiffany angels for a travelling exhibit called In Company with Angels, Princeton University Chapel, the Washington National Cathedral and the fire-damaged windows of St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church in Bernardsville, New Jersey, which established Jordan as a conservation painter. Several of these projects received Historic Preservation awards.
In 2014, Jordan closed The Art of Glass, Inc. and began working for Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As Director of Art Development, one of her first jobs was to represent the studio at an important function at West Point Military Academy. She is currently involved with ongoing large, new window projects for St. Wenceslaus in Omaha. Nebraska., St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson, Mississippi, and St. Agnes in Key Biscayne, Florida. Willet Hauser received the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance Award this year for the historic restoration of the Isaiah Rose Window by John LaFarge, First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In contrast to her work on historic windows, Jordan’s autonomous panels, especially those that involve portraiture, reveal her hand and are painterly and spontaneous. For example, The Chief’s Wife, which is comprised of three, 5-inch-square paintings of Native American elders that turn within the frame, was painted with Reusche’s water based medium. She explains: “It behaves like an oil, but thins with and cleans up with water. It will dry if left out, but you can work into it for an extended period of time before drying occurs. I can work quickly and get a full range of value in one face, in one fire. This technique can be spontaneous and loose or controlled and refined, allowing the viewer to see tool marks, brush strokes, or none at all.” Jordan created her panel On Walden’s Pond in a Debora Coombs’ class from a sketch done previously in a life drawing session. Coombs’ workshop was an exploration of all the different textures possible with water-based medium.
Many of Jordan’s autonomous panels have been donated to the American Glass Guild (AGG) auctions to raise money for the James Whitney educational scholarship. Involved with the AGG since its inception in 2006, Jordan is going into her third year as president of the organization – an extended term due to the global pandemic. The AGG will hold its annual conference from July 14 – 17, 2022 at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York. Also serving as Co-Chair of the International Year of Glass’ North America Steering Committee, Jordan says 2022 is the perfect year to celebrate glass in all of its forms.
Jordan states: “My work and more importantly my contributions to our industry, emerging artists I work with, the clients we work for and the students I teach is why I love this medium and continue to work and volunteer in glass. It is in my DNA and am enthralled by its beauty, mystery and endless possibilities. I was asked not too long ago what or where my body of work was. It was a leading question, and my response was swift. I responded by saying, my body of work was within historic works of stained glass windows that were preserved. My work is called upon by the many students I have taught and by doing so, they now create with confidence and pass along what they have learned. I can’t ask for any more.”
Click the link above for the webinar, The Business Life of an Artist, featuring Kathy Jordan, Narcissus Quagliata, and Orfeo Quagliata. On the checkout page, click on Have a coupon? and type: toyg
Seattle glass art legend Benjamin Moore died on June 25, 2021. He was 69. His passing has been a shock to the glass community — both locally and beyond — evidenced by outpourings of sadness from such institutions as the American Craft Council, UrbanGlass, Tacoma Art Museum and Pilchuck Glass School, where Olympia-born Moore took a class in 1974 (a college graduation gift from his parents).
A seminal figure in establishing Seattle as a contemporary glass center, Moore provided his studio and top-notch glassblowing team to make the work of the world’s finest artists and designers. The groundbreaking art produced on King Street at Benjamin Moore, Inc. (BMI) contributed both to the glass arts and the art world at large. But the true gift of art making within this supportive community is the camaraderie and lifelong friendships born out of such a unique creative environment. This is the lifeblood of the Seattle glass experience.
Said Moore, in our 2013 conversation: “The one thing I learned from Dale (Chihuly) that made a profound impact on me and has always been a part of my career is the joy of working with others. The camaraderie of our community here, working with one another and supporting each other, is huge. Dante Marioni and Preston Singletary both came to work for me out of high school, and when I look at their careers now, I’m the proudest guy in the world.”
Moore served as Chihuly’s primary gaffer from 1975 to 1982 and was the first educational coordinator at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, beginning in 1977. Following graduate studies with Chihuly at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Moore went to work at the Venini Glass Factory in Murano, Italy. In 1978 he brought the Italians to Pilchuck for the first time to demonstrate time-honored techniques rarely seen by US artists. For the Americans, this exposure resulted in a dramatic increase in the sophistication of works produced and further entrenched the value and process of working glass as a team.
Though Moore dedicated much of his career to making Chihuly’s work, their aesthetic approach to glass, form, and color could not be more different. In his own work, Moore reveals a Modernist sensibility reflected in pure geometric forms and simple colors. Translucent, a solo exhibition held at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, from February 2012 though October 2013, presented a selection of his masterpieces that simultaneously evoke aspects of historical tradition and the refinement of a unique contemporary aesthetic.
Inspired by Scandinavian ceramics of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Moore’s objects in glass possess a timelessness achieved by the artist’s focus on color, shape, and proportion. By altering the way light interacts with the work through opacity, translucency, and transparency, he created different impressions for each series of his work. The fundamental concern and focus of his own work was to achieve simplicity, balance, and clarity of form.
He said: “If you think of trying to blow something off hand on the round, historically almost everything had already been done. To come up with something fresh and totally new with those parameters was almost impossible.”
Almost. Moore’s The Interior Fold Series (1975) incorporates the technique of folding the transparent glass onto itself. The ancient Romans used this technique as a utilitarian detail in the vessel form, giving the piece added thickness. “I use this folding technique as a design or aesthetic element. In this series, I combine this folding technique with a horizontal plane of glass, which is spun out from the fold. The spiral wrap on the horizontal plane emphasizes the circular form.”
Moore’s Palla Series (1983) was developed and based on the simple spherical form “palla” – the Italian word for ball. In this series, the sphere functions as the foot of the form as well as the focal point. “I use contrasting opaque colors to draw attention to the contrasting geometric elements. These forms are created generally in pairs, accentuating the horizontal and vertical lines. However, the bowl does stand strongly on its own.”
In the Exterior Fold Series (1978), Moore uses a similar technique to that of the Interior Fold Series. The difference being the exterior fold creates a hollow ring on the outside of the piece. This fold is used as the breaking point between the concave curve and the convex curve in the blown form. These pieces are generally displayed in groupings, and the translucent colors vary from subtle to bold.
This podcast was created from an interview with Moore recorded in 2013 and retrieved from the ToYG archives.
From Team Pilchuck
Moore was a visionary artist, an inspiring mentor, and a once-in-a-lifetime friend. Many of you knew and loved him, and many more of you have been touched by the steadfast and collaborative leadership he brought to our community over the past 50 years.
We are all deeply saddened by Benny’s recent passing, and we know how eager you are to show your care and support for Benny’s beloved wife Debora, their daughter Jasmyn, and the rest of their family.
Friends of the Moores have set up a GoFundMe page to honor Benny’s memory and assist Debora in this sad and difficult time. We want to share it with you now—if you are able, please consider contributing. Gifts of any amount are much appreciated as the family grieves and works to honor Benny’s incredible legacy.
The 1950s and ‘60s marked the heyday of kinetic sculpture with Alexander Calder’s mobiles and Jean Tinguely’s junk machine that destroyed itself in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art. But to glass lovers, Bandhu Dunham put himself on the same map with his 2016 Rube Goldberg-esque Escape Room created for Arizona State University as a reflection of how sports could evolve 24 years into the future.
Dunham says: “Nature inspires me, the interplays between art and science always interest me, and glass merges these fields like no other material. After many years, fanciful steam engines and other kinetic sculptures represent a full turn of the circle, back to the colorful, magical mysteries that captivated my childhood self. He’s still in there, and he wants you to come play, too. I think that people like watching kinetic gizmos with gears and pulleys and crankshafts because, in a paradoxical way, these machines re-connect us with nature.”
Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1959, Dunham began to teach himself lampwork technique in 1975 while still in high school. As an undergraduate at Princeton, he received informal training from the University’s glassblower before completing his apprenticeship under American and European masters at Urban Glass, the Pilchuck Glass School and the Penland School of Crafts. The artist regularly teaches workshops at craft schools and private studios around the United States and internationally including the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass, The Penland School of Crafts and the Pilchuck Glass School. A visiting foreign instructor at Osaka University of Arts in Osaka, Japan, Dunham has presented his work at numerous international conferences including The Glass Art Society, Ausglass, The International Festival of Glass, Kobe Lampwork Festa and Glassymposium Lauscha.
An internationally respected glass artist, author and teacher, Bandhu’s work can be found in the permanent collections of numerous museums in the US and abroad, and his Contemporary Lampworking books are the authoritative, standard instructional texts in the field. In addition to fabricating one-of-a-kind glass sculptures and goblets, Dunham supervises his apprentices in creating unusual gift items and decorations of his conception from his studio, Salusa Glassworks, Prescott, Arizona. In 2018, he designed a groundbreaking kinetic sculpture fabricated by Ryan Murray, GANESHA (Guard Against Negativity; Express Sane Healing Attitudes), for The Melting Point Gallery, Sedona, Arizona.
He says: “The effect on the viewer is a playful mix of contemplative fascination with bursts of excitement as the marbles make their way up and down the track. I enjoy seeing how much viewers of all ages and backgrounds are engaged by the simple drama of marbles circulating through a kinetic system. The key elements of art-as-experience are brought to life in this complex yet simple theatre. We are reminded of life’s magic when we allow ourselves to be captivated by the colorful story unfolding before us. In the best case, the world looks a little different after we have spent some time watching one of my machines.”
Dunham has established a Patreon page to support the creation and dissemination of his informative, inspiring and amusing videos about glass art.
Ellen Mandelbaum creates environments in stained glass that inspire connection between the viewer and the serenity of the spiritual world. Painting with light not only allowed her to transcend art glass limitations, but offered a broader concept for expanding artistic vision in the medium.
After receiving her MFA in painting in 1963 from Indiana University, Mandelbaum worked for several years as a painter, educator and lecturer before developing an interest in stained glass. In 1975, her studies in leaded glass began in earnest at the now defunct Stained Glass School in North Adamas, Massachusetts. By the mid 1980s, Mandelbaum had studied in workshops with such well-known masters as Ludwig Schaffrath, Johannes Schreiter, Jochem Poengsen, Albinas Elskus, Ray King and Ed Carpenter.
Having learned the basic skills of leaded glass, Mandelbaum found herself wanting more fluid motion and softness in her work. The pathway to breaking free of rigid lead line confines was to paint on the glass, techniques she learned from Elskus, who encouraged her to paint in a more personal way. Becoming a member of the Glass Painting Society, founded by John Nussbaum, introduced her to other glass painters with new ideas and approaches, and pushed the artist to further explore free expression using glass paints.
From the beginning, Mandelbaum’s primary interest was the architectural use of stained glass, though throughout her career she designed and exhibited exquisite autonomous pieces, such as Martinique. She says: “I sat on the edge of a dock, plein air painting like Monet. This piece was painted from life with special glass paint and glass I’d brought from Queens, New York, wrapped in newspaper and nestled in the clothes in my suitcase. Miraculously it made it home unbroken where I could fire it in the traditional way – in my kiln at 1200 degrees.” Bold, often geometric designs appeared in concert with expressive free-hand use of paints, stain or enamels. Mandelbaum made use of clear and light tints to enable what was beyond the stained glass to play a role in her designs. Her aesthetic signature, painted elements interacted with what was occurring in the view beyond.
Exhibited internationally, Mandelbaum’s autonomous panels have been featured in several one-person exhibitions at the Queens College Art Center in Flushing, New York, and in a couple of one-person shows at Gallery35 in Manhattan. A member of the Women’s International Glass Workshop since its inception, in 2016 the artist participated in the group show La Grange Aux Verrieres- Lumiere Visible, in Saint-Hilaire-en-Lignieres, France.
Mandelbaum is internationally recognized for her innovative stained glass commissions including installations for the Queens College Art Center, the Marian Woods Retirement Facility in Hartsdale, New York, and a 30-foot high window for the South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston, South Carolina. Liturgical projects include: Temple Beth Shalom, Annapolis, Maryland, 2014; Kol Shalom Synagogue, Rockville, Maryland, 2012; and Adath Jeshurun Synagogue, Minnetonka, Minnesota, for which she was presented with the 1997 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Religious Art Award.
In 2014, Mandelbaum was accredited as an Artist/Designer by the Stained Glass Association of America (SGAA). Two years later, she was appointed Senior Advisor for the American Glass Guild. Other awards include the Ahavas Sholom Honorable Mention Award for Design Excellence, Newark, New Jersey, 2014, and the Williamsburg Art & Historical Society’s 16th Anniversary Grand Harvest Award for Excellence, 2012.
In 2019, Mandelbaum received the SGAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Education. Her teaching experiences include the instruction of glass painting at the SGAA Stained Glass School, Raytown, Missouri; and in New York at Hunter College, Pace University, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2020, the artist will teach long weekend workshops at her Long Island City Studio. A class including Bruce Buchanan, this year’s James Whitney Scholarship recipient, was rescheduled, hopefully for September 4, 5, 6. Check her website, ellenmandelbaum.com for the latest updates.