Exploring the separation between reality and the imaginary through the use of miniatures and glass sculpture, John Sharvin draws the viewer into a new and intimate realm, reminiscent of a shadowbox or dollhouse. These dreamlike worlds create deceptive memories and locations for the viewer to reflect on as recollection of a place or memory is often distorted through the lens of time. One wonders what is conjured and what is true.
Working in glass since late 2008, Sharvin graduated from The Ohio State University in 2012 with a BFA in glass. He stayed in Columbus for a few years working in galleries, doing public glass demonstrations and tutoring students until he took a technician apprenticeship at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) in 2014. There, he curated his first exhibition, Silica Valley, for which he developed a theme, selected the artists, titled the exhibition, and did all of the installation and lighting. The result was a show that revealed the possibilities of combining an ancient material like glass with 21st-century processes like 3D printing.
Utilizing digital fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and CNC milling in his own work, Sharvin creates unique and unexpected forms in glass that include not only surrealist landscapes and motifs, but glass animals infused with detail, realism, and a hint of cuteness. He has exhibited at several galleries including Fuller Craft Museum, Lake Erie Art Museum, and Hawk Galleries, and his work has been published in New Glass Review and Dwell Magazine.
Following two successful seasons of Blown Away, Sharvin applied to be cast in Season 3. Nine other contestants joined him at North America’s largest hot shop in Hamilton, Ontario, to create and exhibit glass work directed by briefs that included topics such as outer space, the circus, and Seven Deadly Sins. In each episode, the glassblowers had to impress the evaluators or risk being eliminated. At stake was a life-changing prize that could send their careers to new heights.
Sharvin states: “Things were not going my way, and I saw this as a great opportunity to change up my life.”
Participating in the six-week show required Sharvin and the other contestants to come up with a fully articulated design, talk about it, write about it and then make it in “the hottest studio” ever. Competing against each other for $60,000 in prizes, the contestants filmed 10 episodes in succession, getting only one day off during the six-week shoot due to the tight production schedule.
Sharvin said: “Being a contestant on Blown Away Season 3 was an incredible experience. It was hot and challenging but was a truly life-changing time for me.”
Leaving his full-time employment at PGC in mid 2022 to be a full-time artist, Sharvin now applies to public art projects and is establishing his CNC mold-making business. His current work is on view now in UNDEFINED, which runs until July 30, 2023, at PGC, along with the work of fellow Blown Away Season 3 contestants John Moran and Minhi England.
In 2021, Sharvin, England, and Moran were gathered in a backstage production set with seven other familiar faces. Each participant was invited to compete hoping to find new opportunities and to open creative pathways into new beginnings. Five weeks later, these three were the remaining finalists. Though Sharvin, England and Moran initially came together as competitors, their shared experiences on the show influenced comradery and mutual support. Since the premiere of the series, they have stayed in touch artistically through PGC’s Artist Residency program, giving them an opportunity to collaborate as artists. This collaborative exhibition contradicts the notion of competition in the glass world.