Since 1967 when Mark Peiser became involved with the Studio Glass Movement, he has been recognized for his uniquely individualized approaches and accomplishments in glass. Continual investigation of the expressive implications of glass properties and processes has led to his distinctive bodies of work. Recently Peiser published the book, Thirty-Eight Pieces of Glass – with Related Thoughts, pairing his glass with brief writings of resonance.
To quote from the preface: “Since I began with glass 50 years ago, I’ve received countless questions asking, basically, what’s it about? In that discussion I’ve tried to answer honestly and completely but I’ve always felt to have fallen short – short of the words and short of the voice that would say them. When I started to assemble this book, I began feeling much more truthful and satisfying answers to that question. I hope you will, too. That these selections sorted out into something of an abridged life story was a bit of a surprise to me. It shouldn’t have been. All along I’ve said my work has been about my feelings and experiences and, over many years, what else is a life?”
Peiser, an internationally known glass artist, was born in Chicago in 1938. After studying electrical engineering at Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana, 1955-1957), he received a Bachelor of Science in Design from Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, Illinois, 1961). Peiser studied piano and composition at DePaul University School of Music (Chicago, Illinois, 1965-1967) before attending Penland School of Crafts (Penland, North Carolina) in 1967. After five weeks of glass classes, he became the first resident craftsman in glass at the school. Peiser is a founder of the Glass Art Society, of which he is now an honorary member, and a leading presence in the Studio Glass Movement.
Inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council in 1988, Peiser received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass in 2004, the North Carolina Governor’s Award in 2009, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Society in 2010 and the North Carolina Living Treasure Award in 2011, among others. He has exhibited worldwide and is in many public and private collections including the Asheville Art Museum, the Chrysler Museum of Art, The Corning Museum of Glass, the Glassmuseum Ebeltoft, the Lucerne Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Museum of Art and Design, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, among others.
By challenging established formulas and techniques throughout his career, Peiser has created and combined new and unusual colors in his glass sculptures. This approach to glass is radical as he has literally invented new glasses in order to pursue an idea through to creation. In 2009, a special glass formulation was created by melting opal glasses for his Palomar series of sculptures that pay homage to Corning Glass Works’ famous 200-inch Disk, the telescope mirror cast in 1934 for the Mt. Palomar Observatory in California. Currently, Peiser is working on the Marko Blanko Project to develop a specialty glass for filigrana.
Peiser’s work highlights include:
Develops blowing skills, designs and builds various furnaces and equipment, develops formulations for crystal, various opal and luster glasses. Produces iridescent miniatures, gather pots, flower forms, spaghetti bowls, copper core vessels, opaque geometric and image vessels.
Introduces and develops torch working techniques for furnace blown work allowing more detailed imagery and perspective. Produces Paperweight Vases portraying natural subjects and landscapes, urban views and abstract imagery related to the vessel form.
Develops graphite molding process and casting glasses. Makes compound cast glass pieces that compose the internal volume of solid transparent forms. Produces Innerspace series including Ascensions, Hands, Light Beams, Moons, Mountain Skyscapes, Muses, Planets and Polychrome Progressions.
Develops bottom pour casting furnace, casting and mold techniques, and glass formulae allowing larger scale work representing psychological conditions.
CONTRITION SECOND STUDY (CSS) 2000 – 2004
Produces a limited edition of 50 as a learning experience to formulate and develop casting process for controlled translucency in sculptural glass.
A creative use of my bottom pour furnace. My most fun in a glass shop since 1969. View videos of the Coldstream Casting process on You Tube by searching Mark Peiser.
Develops vermiculite molding process. Produces Palomar series as a tribute to the accomplishment of the Palomar Mirror in 1934. For more about the Palomar series and the transition to the Passage and Etudes Tableau, search You Tube for Mark Peiser’s Corning Museum of Glass talk.
Refines formulation and heat treatment of light scattering glasses. Produces work whose subject is light.
Now, more than a half century later, Peiser’s name is synonymous with invention and precision. He conveyed to ToYG podcast: “Most of my earliest memories are of making things. I seem to have a knack for seeing how things work, how things go together, and how to make it. If I have a gift, that’s it.
“When I was in design school, I became concerned with the essence of quality. Read some books and papers, sat through some lectures, and developed a somewhat subconscious but deep commitment for my life’s efforts. Later working in industry, design and advertising it was difficult to impossible to implement quality. At my level it was irrelevant and deeply unsatisfying. When I happened into Penland and the beginning of the Studio Glass Movement, the control offered by the notion of a one-man glass studio seemed an avenue that could lead to quality. I’ve done my best to hold to that path throughout my career. All in all, I’ve been successfully self- employed for 57 years. As we all hope, with the rest of life, I did the best I could at the time. But unlike the rest of life, I could disappear a bad piece like it never happened.
“Being an artist is not just another job. It’s a commitment.”