Capitalizing on the ways glass can be arranged in and flows from a crucible, Nathan Sandberg creates reproducible decorative cane and murrine using the Vitrigraph Kiln. His work showcases these elements in a variety of artistic applications and furnishings. When not in his North Portland studio creating work or getting ready for an exhibition, Sandberg can be found presenting modern, innovative curriculum in kilnformed glass at a wide variety of studios and schools around the globe.
In 2003, Sandberg received his BFA in glass and ceramics from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. After working at private glassblowing studios and independently furthering his education in kiln-glass, he joined Bullseye Glass Co. in 2005. As a member of the company’s Research & Education team, he taught and developed courses and online educational videos as well as assisted visiting artists. Beginning at the Bullseye factory in 2009, the artist began exploring modern Vitrigraph methods that have become the primary techniques used in the creation of his work.
Sandberg creates glass panes that are full of movement and repeated patterns that gently guide the viewer’s eyes through the work. He states: “Our world is complex. And I realize that occasionally we simply need a pleasant view in order to escape some of the ugliness and take ourselves somewhere healthier, even if only for a moment.”
In 2012, Sandberg founded Nathans LLC. This educational entrepreneurship helped establish him as one of the top kiln-glass educators in the world, sending him on teaching adventures from Santa Fe to Zurich and Australia to Norway. In 2015, Nathans LLC moved out of the basement and into a proper studio space in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. Today, Sandberg uses OnGrade Studio as his home base and can be found there relentlessly producing work for exhibitions and developing new curriculum to teach on the road and online.
Using primarily glass, Sandberg’s installations commonly make use of other materials such as wood, metal and concrete. His artwork can be found in private and public collections around the world and has received critical recognition through awards, exhibitions, and art fairs, including Glazen Huis in Lommel, Belgium, 2nd Place Non-Functional, Academic Award WG@BE3: E-merge, Bullseye Connection Gallery and SOFA Chicago. Sandberg worked with Gabriela Wilson as part of an Instructor Collaborative Residency at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass in September 2019. The duo explored the traditional hot shop methods of pulling cane to compare and contrast the process with Vitrigraph methods.
Currently, Sandberg operates an 8’ x 10’ waterjet two days a week and says this equipment will revolutionize what is possible in kilnformed glass. The artist is also in the design phase of a glass shingle backsplash for a 30-foot-tall residential waterfall project. His artwork will be on view at Guardino Gallery in Portland in September 2023 and in October at the Pittsburgh Glass Center with Amanda Simmons, Nancy Callan, Mel Douglas and Corey Pemberton in an exhibition titled Pattern.
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.
With her unique sculptural works, Ann Wolff holds a distinguished place as one of the world’s leading artists working with glass. She applies her strongly personal approach to bronze, aluminum and concrete sculpture, as well as to drawing, pastel work and photography. From April through October 2022, Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, one of Sweden’s most popular art museums, presented a solo exhibition of Wolff’s work in several techniques and media from the year 2000 until the present day. VOGUE Scandinavia nominated the show as one of the 10 best fall exhibitions in Scandinavia. It was also the largest showing of her work presented in Sweden.
Wolff states: “I have seen my works in painting, stone, bronze, concrete, and glass as equal in status. Sometimes I feel that my strongest works might be in paper, charcoal and pastels.”
She continues: “I feel as a human being out of time. The notion of self and hence identity, grips me, disturbs me and motivates me. Everything comes from that. My interest in the self includes the others. It is clear that in the way that one carries out one’s work, something like a self expresses itself. And this self is guided by constantly developing insights. The insights can be very unclear but can still be the inspiration behind a work. I am testing out old questions of identity; be it inside-outside, symmetry, layers and core, number two and the double, the goat and the monkey. Moments of recognition are what my work needs, they propel me forward. Collected moments of clarity become knowledge.”
Born in Germany in 1937, Wolff studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (University of Design and Art) in Ulm, Germany, then worked as a designer in Sweden. For many years, she designed for the Kosta Boda glassworks, during which time she also pursued an independent career as a studio artist. Currently living and working on the Baltic island of Gotland, Sweden, she is the recipient of several internationally prestigious distinctions including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Glass Art Society and the PRO EUROPA Foundation’s European Culture Prize. She has been honored with numerous international awards, among them the renowned Coburger Glaspreis (1977), the Bayerischen Staatspreis (1988), the Jurypreis of the Toledo Museum of Art (2005), and the Award of Excellence of the Smithsonian Renwick Collection, Washington, DC (2008). The Swedish Royal family has acquired several of her works.
As one of the founders of the international Studio Glass movement, Wolff was at the center of attention as early as end of the 1960s. Her initiation into the American Studio Glass movement came at the invitation of Marvin Liposfsky and Dale Chihuly. Early days at Pilchuck sharing ideas and techniques revealed to her a new reality – one in which she was respected as an artist not a designer.
Wolff States: “The Studio Glass movement from the United States burst in on my work – my isolation – in the mid 1960s. I was astonished and thrilled by the freedom with which glass was handled there. An immense curiosity about the unused potential and the broad possibilities of the new material for art: glass. It has to fit into the framework of art in general, though. For me, art is the deciding factor. The path I took shows that I intensely wanted to express my life in pictures, clarify things for myself. Of course, I could have started in a quite different medium – painting, sculpture, film – but it became glass.”
In her 50-year career, Wolff repeatedly created works that made people think. With glass, she allowed the world to glance at her esthetic sentimentality, and she also created homogenous objects. Ever recurring themes predominant in her work are womanhood and habitation expressed through objects that are mostly monochrome, often in warm earthy tones. Dance-theater was a strong inspiration, and she was allowed to attend rehearsals with Pina Bausch, made views from what she saw there and then formed glass objects.
Wolff brings out the special characteristics of glass: contours, surfaces, the relation between inside and outside. She makes inner landscapes visible. What lies behind the mask? The artist has asked herself this question again and again over the years. The psychology behind the facade is a regular theme of her works. Investigating further the subject of Wolff’s blown and engraved bowls and cast sculptures, one finds that the relationships between women as friends, and as mothers and daughters, and the role of women in society deeply concern her. She writes: “It is natural to take oneself as one’s starting point. The situation of women partly determines who I am and leads me to pose particular questions.”
Daniel Collins has spent more than 20 years directing award-winning documentary films that examine the untold stories of innovative artists, unsung activists, and underground subcultures. He has strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement. He began his filmmaking career at the Delaware-based nonprofit media initiative Hearts and Minds Film in 2001, founded Dan Collins Media in 2014, and launched Fire Team Films, which focuses exclusively on glass-related content, in 2022.
In October, Collins’ latest film Slinger debuted on Amazon and Vimeo on Demand. Aaron Golbert, aka Marble Slinger, embodies the artistic evolution and cultural revolution of the American glass pipe movement. He began making pipes in the 1990s, learning well-kept craft secrets from a few generous mentors, at a time when making “drug paraphernalia” could still land you in jail. Now, 25 years later, he is revered for his unique and ever-changing pipe aesthetics, his bold forays into the world of pop-art (especially his “Assault Girl” designs; Warhol-inspired mashups of the Morton Salt Logo), and perhaps above all for his documentary film, Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes (2012). This groundbreaking film premiered at the legendary SXSW Film Festival and enjoyed a two-year run as a top-ranked documentary on Netflix, giving audiences around the world the first detailed look into the underground glass pipe subculture.
Says Slinger: “I’ve always seen glass pipe making as an extension of legalization activism, a protest, saying we believe that cannabis is beautiful!”
Slinger studied film at Ithaca College in upstate New York, but when he first glimpsed the mysterious glass pipes that began popping up on Grateful Dead and Phish tour in the mid-90s he was hooked. Devoted to outlaw cannabis culture, and hungry for an alternative to mainstream life, Slinger headed to Seattle to learn the art of pipe making. He has since become an artistic icon in a scene which has turned into a billion-dollar industry. This film tells the story of his life’s journey in a deep, personal way, while following him through a frigid Philadelphia winter as he prepares for a rare solo exhibition in sunny California. Directed by long-time friend and award- winning filmmaker Collins, the film offers a unique glimpse into Slinger’s world, inviting audiences to intimately experience the many challenges an artist faces in the pursuit of passion.
“You don’t need to go to film school, you need to live a life worthy of making a film about:” states Slinger.
Collins is best known in the glass-pipe community for being the editor of Marble Slinger’s opus Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes(2012). He has since gone on to direct three more feature-length glass documentaries: Project 33 (2017): chronicling the work of Oregon Artist Marcel Braun; Art That Gives Back (2023): the story of the Michigan Glass Project, which will release at their event in September 2023; and most recently Slinger (2022): a portrait of the artist who originally introduced Collins to the world of glass art.
Currently in production on two exciting new documentary films about glass, Collins journeyed to the outskirts of Havana to document the nascent studio glass movement in Cuba, and hopes to complete his film, ¡FUEGO! soon.
Find the trailer here: https://youtu.be/UlKsyWLOqkY
Beginning in January 2023, Collins turned his lens on American glass master Paul Stankard, to produce an intimate artist portrait with the help of Stankard’s long-time colleague, David Graeber.
Collins’ work has won many awards, premiered at prestigious festivals, and been distributed internationally. He is also a published poet, recording artist, and faculty member at the traditional-arts nonprofit organization Common Ground on the Hill (McDaniel College, Westminster, MD) where he is the co-founder of the Common Ground Veterans Initiative, a program that promotes healing through the arts for combat veterans.
Comprised of hundreds of objects fabricated using multiple glass processes, Between Seeing and Knowing is a large-scale, site-specific installation by artists Anna Boothe and Nancy Cohen. The installation is on view now through February 5, 2023 at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin. Created as part of a collaborative residency that took place at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in 2012, the artwork has been previously exhibited at Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Philadelphia’s International Airport.
At its core, Between Seeing and Knowing is the result of both artists’ long-standing interest in and in-depth study of Tibetan Buddhist thangka paintings and the integration of their otherwise very separate studio practices. Thangkas are ordered cosmological paintings, often scrolls, created for the purpose of meditation and composed of numerous visual elements. This installation reinterprets the symbolism in the paintings to create new work that reflects the organizational structure and palette of the paintings, as well as the sense of expansiveness and lack of hard resolution characteristic of Buddhist ideology.
Boothe and Cohen state: “Overall, through this collaboration, its subject matter, and our chosen methodology, we seek to understand, both visually and viscerally, another cultural perspective or expression unlike our own, through our dissection and re-assemblage of elements unique to that culture. Just as collaboration brings forth the opportunity for a deep exchange of ideas and the development of sympathetic approaches to doing what one does, pragmatically and metaphorically, this is our attempt at bridging gaps between cultural approaches to explain the unexplainable.”
With degrees in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design and glass from Tyler School of Art/Temple University, Boothe has worked with glass since 1980. Included in the permanent collections of CMoG, Racine Art Museum and Tacoma Museum of Art, her cast glass work has been exhibited widely, including recently at the Albuquerque Art Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and the Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace in Venice, as well as at several villas in Italy’s Veneto Region.
Boothe taught in Tyler’s glass program for 16 years, helped develop and chaired Salem Community College’s glass art program and has exhibited and/or lectured internationally in Australia, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, as well as at numerous US universities and glass-focused schools. She served on the Board and as President of the Glass Art Society from 1998-2006 and is a former Director of Glass at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum.
With an MFA in Sculpture from Columbia University and a BFA in Ceramics from Rochester Institute of Technology, Cohen has been working with glass (among other materials) since 1990. Her work examines resiliency in relation to the environment and the human body. Cohen’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States and is represented in collections such as The Montclair Museum, The Weatherspoon Art Gallery, and The Zimmerli Museum. She has completed large-scale, site-specific projects for The Staten Island Botanical Garden, The Noyes Museum of Art, The Katonah Museum, Howard University, and others.
Recent solo exhibitions include Walking a Line at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Chelsea, New York, and Nancy Cohen: Atlas of Impermanence at the Visual Arts Center in Summit, New Jersey. Group exhibitions include All We Can Save: Climate Conversations at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Pennsylvania, and ReVision and Respond at The Newark Museum. Cohen is a 2022 recipient of a Mid-Atlantic Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She currently teaches drawing and sculpture at Queens College.
In a review of Boothe and Cohen’s collaborative project, Elizabeth Crawford of N.Y Arts Magazine, wrote: : “Intuitively proximate to Buddhist philosophy, the piece is about the inter-relatedness of things. Each glass part appears sentient and in direct communication with the others. In a Thangka painting, none of the forms are meant to be isolated but work together to invite the viewer to take the painting in at once, as a whole. Similarly, all of the pieces in Boothe and Cohen’s installation contribute to a sense of continuous breath or movement which is enhanced by light reflecting through the glass.” For this innovative work the artists used an astounding range of glass processes including kiln-casting, slumping, fusing, blowing, hot-sculpting and sand-casting.
This year, flameworking pioneer Paul Stankard will celebrate his 80th birthday. To commemorate more than six decades at the torch, the artist joined Talking Out Your Glass podcast for a return visit featuring a discussion about his contributions to glass and art, including his new book, Inspiration from the Art of Paul J. Stankard: A Window into My Studio and Soul.
Jack Wax, artist and head of the glass department at The Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, wrote the following about Stankard’s latest and fourth book:
“Paul Joseph Stankard is the living master of the art of the botanical paperweight. There ought not to be any argument as to where he stands in the history of this endeavor, an undertaking that dates back to the mid-19th century and the famed Venetian glassmaker Pietro Bigaglia. He has, as a noted autodidact, aimed at elevating the production of these objects to stratospheric heights. His patient and long-term focus on capturing the subtle beauty of blossoms before they fade, and of bouquets that never wilt, has brought to the world marvels of observation, obsession, fixation, and, importantly, of invention. There is a tendency for people to gaze in wonder and become infatuated when encountering “impossible objects” for the first time. This has been his purview.
That said, becoming a master in the world of 21st-century decorative art production might not ensure that your corollary endeavors—writing poetry and laying out the inexorably tied-up nature of beauty’s role in the success of an artwork—needs to be shared with posterity. Stankard’s voice is sincere and heartfelt. His choice of words is deeply weighed, his phrasing and pacing seriously considered. He is, after all, attempting to distill, out of the quickly dispersing mists of creativity, an essence, a tincture that will contain some drops of truth. That can, at times, become a dangerous area to interpret and translate for a broad swath of the population. Being great at one thing in no way guarantees that one is good at another…
If you pick this book up, you will assuredly spend time considering the beauty of Paul Stankard’s botanical images in glass. He is a genuinely passionate, sincerely earnest maker who cares deeply for the natural world and has devoted a lifetime to the true intricacies of what is visible—and what is not—for those who persevere and cultivate what may be revealed in the application of an extraordinarily sustained and amplified focus.”
Considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, Stankard’s work is represented in more than 75 museums around the world. Over his 40-year artistic journey, he has received two honorary doctorate degrees, an honorary associate’s degree, and many awards within the glass community, most recently the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian’s The James Renwick Alliance and the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the UrbanGlass Award—Innovation in a Glassworking Technique.
In 1961, Stankard enrolled in Salem County Vocational Technical Institute’s Scientific Glassblowing program (now Salem Community College). During his subsequent 10-year scientific glassblowing career, fabricating complex instruments was his focus. As head of the glass department at Rohn & Haas in Philadelphia, the artist began experimenting with floral paperweights as a hobby. The work was eventually noticed by art dealer Reese Palley at a craft expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in 1972, Stankard abandoned industry for art.
Stankard’s role as educator includes establishing the flameworking studio at Penland School of Craft, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and serving as a founding board member and President of The Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, New Jersey. The artist taught students in the US at Penland; the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington; and abroad at Kanaz Forest of Creation Japan with Hiroshi Yamano as well as at North Lands Creative, in the Scottish Highlands. He remains an Artist-in-Residence and Honorary Professor at Salem Community College, where he founded the International Flameworking Conference.
Now dividing his time between flameworking and writing, Stankard is the author of Inspiration from the Art of Paul J. Stankard: A Window into My Studio and Soul; an autobiography No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass; an educational resource Spark the Creative Flame: Making the Journey from Craft to Art; and Studio Craft as Career: A Guide to Achieving Excellence in Art-making.
In March 2023, Stankard will once again attend the International Flameworking Conference (IFC). He will also be instructing a workshop with Lucio Bubacco in May. IFC details are at www.salemcc.edu/ifc and workshop info is at https://salemcc.edu/glass/intensive-glass-workshop
In celebration of his 80th birthday, WheatonArts will host a Celebration of the Life & Work of Paul J. Stankard, Saturday, May 20, 2023. Click link below for the latest information. Campus-wide activities will be highlighted by collaborative Glass Studio demonstrations with Stankard and friends, curator tours of the Museum of American Glass featuring Amber Cowan’s solo exhibit Alchemy of Adornment, and special fare catered by Feast Your Eyes Catering. Proceeds benefit the WheatonArts Glass Studio programs. Dan Collins – documentary filmmaker with strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass Movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement – filmed Stankard for a documentary that will be shown in May at the WheatonArts event. The film includes the artist creating a piece from his Celestial Bouquet series. Stankard’s work will be exhibited at the Morris Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, in Morristown, New Jersey, in early 2023.
Seattle based artist working in glass and metal, MiNHi England was a finalist in Season 3 of the Blown Away series, which premiered on Netflix in July of 2022. She worked her way into the hearts of viewers with stunning glass design and technique as seen in works such as The Spectacular Bearded Dragon Lady or her collaborative installation with fellow contestant Dan Friday called One Million Scovilles.
Having earned her BFA from Alfred University in 2010, England has worked as a professional glassblower at numerous studios throughout the greater Seattle area. She now runs a hotshop named Liquid Lush Studio with her friend Bri Chesler, where the two friends create strange but beautiful glass-blown pieces that can be sold as gifts. The Seattle-based personality also continues in her roles as production manager at Artful Ashes and instructor at Pratt Fine Arts Center. With England’s current individual art practice focused heavily on her recent young widow status, she learns to navigate overwhelming loss, grief and life altering transition.
In 2012, Minhi met and married her late husband Jesse England at Pilchuck. The two bonded over a shared passion for combining glass and metal in a contemporary and conceptual fashion. Originally from Kansas, Jesse earned his BFA in Sculpture and Glass from Emporia State University in 2007. In 2013, he earned an MFA in Sculpture and Glass from the University of Texas at Arlington. Soon after meeting, Jesse and Minhi established an artist compound in which friends and colleagues could live and work. They eventually partnered with Artful Ashes to create iconic glass memorials.
In 2019, Jesse was diagnosed with MPNST (malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor). To help fight the cancer, Jesse underwent a few different procedures including a below the knee amputation, radiation, chemotherapy, and trial drugs. Sadly, however, he passed away 18 months after his diagnosis and nine months after he and Minhi married.
Despite his poor health, Jesse and Minhi married on September 5, 2020. Minhi wore a $30-dress and cowboy boots she got when the couple went on their first trip to Texas. In an Instagram post, she talked about the impact Jesse had on her life. “You have believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, encouraged me, and lifted me up in my darkest days. We’ve shared some of my most cherished memories, and you will forever have my whole heart. You have shown me abundant generosity and kindness despite my many shortcomings. I am grateful for your bountiful love and devotion.”
From the depths of grief, England gathered her strength and faced new challenges before the eyes of the world. She joined the cast of Blown Away – the Netflix reality competition series that she and Jesse used to watch together. She said: “Jesse was the one who encouraged me to do it. That was his last gift to me.”
Along with the great success Minhi experienced on Blown Away, the artist has been awarded several artist residencies including the Hauberg Residency at Pilchuck Glass School, the Hilltop Artists Residency in Tacoma, and she has exhibited work at Bellevue Art Museum. Presently, she has an upcoming immersive gallery installation set to open in early 2023 at Method Gallery in Seattle as well as a group exhibition with fellow Blown Away artists John Sharvin and John Moran titled, Undefined, opening on February 3 at Pittsburgh Glass Center Gallery.
England states: “When I use glass in my work, I find myself personifying the material, giving it permission to embody self. The unique properties of hot glass allow me to generate a sense of vitality when I force my own breath inside. This action further connects me to the process. Although I set the stage, there are moments that happen outside of my control, metaphorically illustrating the human experience. Choosing when to relinquish control creates opportunity for evolution.”
Stanton Studios, expanded from the well-known Stanton Glass Studio, was founded in 1979 by Bryant J. Stanton. Beginning with a workbench in a loft studio and a couple of crates of glass, the studio has grown into a nationally-recognized business with completed work in businesses and homes across Texas and the United States. In addition to Stanton, his four sons and their team of craftsmen operate Stanton Studios just north of Waco, Texas.
Stanton began his journey into the world of art as a young adult in high school. When he wrote a research paper on Gothic Cathedrals, he became fascinated with stained glass and window bays. Later, attending Texas Tech then transferring to Baylor, Stanton studied 3-Dimensional Studio Art and found that he incorporated glass wherever possible in all of his art projects. But the young artist didn’t begin pursuing his passion until a fateful event occurred.
When Stanton took an off campus walk, he discovered an old stained glass shop and met a man who changed his life by teaching him the craft. After making his first butterfly sun-catcher, the young Stanton was “instantly hooked.” He accepted a full-time job at The Warehouse working for Homer Owen and made inspirational gifts – sun-catchers with bible verses on them.
In 1979, Stanton began his own business in a downtown Waco, Texas, shop and started calling churches and businesses, advertising his services. He received his first restoration job fixing up windows for Central Christian Church. His first two window commissions were created for Pelican’s Warf and the Brazos Landing; ironically, both waterfront restaurants wanted Pelican-themed windows looking out onto the Brazos River.
Stanton taught his first child, Tiffany, the shop’s ways and how to handle glass. Soon after, Nathan and Jordan, the eldest sons, began learning their father’s trade. Jordan was “a little clone of his father” and quickly picked up the skills needed for creating glass. As assistant manager, he accompanied his father to meetings. Nathan, the eldest son, found that working with glass was not his passion and learned his own trade – woodworking. Tiffany eventually taught her younger sibling, Samuel, to work with glass, and he joined the shop as a grouter.
As time passed, Stanton hired an in-house glass painter, Joe Barbieri, his wife Suzanne eventually became the bookkeeper, and Jordan became the official manager. Samuel also moved up from being in “the mud room” to being a builder. Tim, the youngest son, joined the shop as a builder, and Nathan helped to expand Stanton Glass Studio into Stanton Studios as he brought his woodworking abilities to the shop.
Since founding the business, Stanton has worked tirelessly designing and creating works in glass. The knowledge and experience gained have allowed him to complete iconic works that are not only breathtaking but magnificent feats to design and build. He and his family can tackle projects ranging from stained glass for churches, residences or businesses to huge sculptures for universities or giant glass domes for hotels. Stanton says he most enjoys projects that are big and challenging, such as the 3-story long DNA sculpture that hangs suspended in a stairwell in the McLennan Community College Sciences Building in Waco, the iconic dome of the Driskill Hotel in Austin, and the restoration of the priceless Louis Comfort Tiffany windows for a Galveston church.
Stanton has come a long way from that first butterfly suncatcher. He and his family are always learning more and continuing to find new challenges in creating the most beautiful art glass. Due to their success, Stanton has served on several community boards, including the Waco Chamber of Commerce and the Waco Art Center. He is the current president of the Stained Glass Association of America (SGAA) and also served as the past Editorial Chair of Stained Glass Quarterly magazine. SGAA’s 2023 conference will be held in Buffalo, New York, September 27 through October 1.
As Stanton Studios continues to hire more builders and expand, its founder hopes that the business will live on through his sons, who are now in charge of teaching the new hires the skills involved with stained glass making – keeping the art and craft of stained glass alive.
ott Deppe, pioneer in the functional glass art scene for three decades, brings an artistic vision to glassblowing that parallels that of influential artists of other media. Adept at evolving techniques, he quickly mastered traditional moves like reticellos and disk flips and innovated techniques of his own to achieve alien function and incorporate intricate detail and sacred geometry into his glass work. Most recently, his exploration has culminated in silver and gold fumed hologram glass that transforms finished pieces into deep illustrative tapestries.
Born in Idaho, Deppe moved to Bellingham, Washington, the year before he started making pipes. He encountered his first blown glass pipe at a Grateful Dead show in 1993. On his way home, he stopped at a local hardware store, bought a torch and some glass, set up in his living room and melted a couple of spoon pipes, trying to recreate a piece he had fallen in love with at the Dead show – a little spoon with a mushroom bead on the side. Deppe says: “I had a natural ability to deconstruct things with my mind. Through experimentation, I often came up with better, easier ways of doing things.”
Other than an early goblet class with Brian Kerkvliet, Deppe is self-taught and well-known for his constant experimentation on the torch resulting in early mind-blowing solo works such as Take Me to the Mothership, his Deady Bear piece, and his collaborative Team Japan works – all of which expanded how people thought about glass and how much they were willing to spend on pipe art. Since then, he has done collabs with many industry greats.
Deppe is the founder of Mothership – a glass artist collective with a mission to create the best functional glass in the galaxy. The Mothership first landed on Earth in 2013, making contact in the Pacific Northwest. Its team of glass artists and crew constantly push the boundaries to make creations that combine beauty and sophistication into functional glass art. The company prides itself on passion for both the artform and cannabis culture, resulting in every piece being handcrafted with love.
When it comes to a consensus on who is the most talented glass artist within the industry, you will be hard pressed to find one with more mentions than Deppe, a true master of the art form. Holding a Deppe piece, one marvels at the precision of his craftsmanship. While many artists are cornering a niche market with a trademark style, this artist has always been one to display a breathtaking ability to master any technique.
Legacy GlassWorks Gallery in Duluth, MN will feature Mothership Glass on Saturday, December 3, 2022 https://www.legacyglassworks.com/pages/upcoming-events-2
Legends of Hash will also feature Mothership from Dec 2 – 3, 2022 in Los Angeles. https://www.legendsofhashish.com/projects-6 Deppe will attend this event.
Says Deppe: “I just want to do something different, always. It’s what feels good.”
James Devereux’s Clovis Collection is the result of labored experiments by the artist to literally chip hot glass like stone. Having perfected this unusual technique, he produces breathtaking, monolithic objects with smooth lines juxtaposed with fractured edges. Creating these pieces in subtle tones places the focus on the texture and form of each component.
Devereux states: “A blow too hard would simply shatter the piece, too light a tap would crush the surface. After flame polishing, the meandering edges despite their appearance are not sharp, but smooth to the touch.”
Having worked with many prominent names within the industry in a host of roles including collaborating artist, facilitator, instructor and demonstrator, Devereux’s impact within British and international glass to date has been far reaching. Positioned as one of the most active glass artists currently working in the UK, it is the unique combination of abundant skills and technique with an eye for detail that has made him a highly respected and sought-after glass craftsman.
Starting in the industry at the age of 15 thanks to a work experience placement at Bath Aqua Glass, Devereux worked at a crystal factory making stemware, tableware and gifts. He subsequently studied glass for three years at Wolverhampton University before opening his first hotshop in the inspiring Wiltshire countryside. In 2009, Devereux took a job as the glass technician at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London before attending the college as a student. He states: “RCA opened my eyes to everything else going on in glass, including new contacts and opportunities that remain at the core of my career.”
After leaving London in 2013, Devereux and fellow glass artist Katharine Huskie established a new studio together. Devereux and Huskie Glassworks is a custom-built studio dedicated to creating innovating and exciting glass for designers and artists from the UK and overseas. Over the years, Devereux and Huskie Glassworks has become known for large-scale glass sculpture that pushes the boundaries of the material. Devereux also sells glass tools and supplies through his business, Glass Toolbox. Visit https://www.glasstoolbox.co.uk.
Devereux and US artist David Patchen first met through social media and at the Glass Art Society’s (GAS) conference in Murano, but their unique collaboration didn’t officially begin until 2019 in San Francisco. United in harmony, their collaborative artworks combine Patchen’s murrine patterns and Devereux’s intrinsic forms. Making their first collaborative Clovis sculpture at a fundraising party and their second during a demo for hundreds of people at GAS Tacoma, their relationship continued during Covid with Patchen shipping pattern blanks from San Francisco to Devereux in the UK. Patchen makes murrine with color combinations he’s interested in exploring – cutting and arranging different pieces together to achieve the perfect mosaic for blowing. Devereux then uses these intricate patterns to sculpt and breathe life into the artwork.
Says Patchen: “My collaboration with James has been going strong over the past year. We began this project just before the pandemic and have completed a dozen sculptures without the benefit of working in the studio together. We communicate via text and email with me making the patterns in San Francisco and shipping James patterned murrine blanks (thick densly-patterned cups) which he heats up in his studio in England to create the finished sculptural forms. Aside from being distinctive and beautiful forms, a particularly interesting aspect of these is the hot-chipped edge. James creates this edge texture by carefully hammering the sculpture while the glass is hot on the punty, chipping away chunks of glass, exposing the interior and creating the scalloped edge. You can see a short video on my Instagram of James chipping the second Clovis we made in San Francisco at the beginning of our collaboration.”
Devereux is currently exploring a new series, Diodes, continuing his look at collectable obsolete objects. These works combine multiple materials, processes and skills as well as distorted Morse code to look at what we consider current or outdated technology or communication. Having just returned from Biot International Glass Festival, and travels to Sweden and Istanbul, the artist discusses his history and works in glass.
Vivian Wang is an American sculptor of Chinese descent, who is inspired by the art of ancient China and Japan. With Asian features and formal poses, her figures are always elaborately clothed in garments replete with Asian patterns and motifs. The style and color of the clothing has been greatly influenced by her previous career as a fashion designer. The “textile-like” surfaces of her work are purposely distressed or antiqued. Wang uses glass components for the hands, feet and heads of her figures, which imbues them with an intangible quality. Together, these elements give the sculptures a haunting look, mirroring the paintings and sculptures of ancient China and Japan.
All of Wang’s pieces are now extravagantly embellished with semi-precious stones and crystals. This reflects the opulence and pageantry of court life in ancient Asia. Even the Samurai warrior wears the most resplendent armor covered with an overwhelming number of garnets and moonstones. The use of these semi-precious stones is a new direction in her art, one which she intends to develop further.
Wang states: “It is difficult to place my art, sometimes referred to as Asian Figurative Sculpture, neatly into the spectrum of the art world as it is both old and new. Ancient in its origins, subjects and some of its materials, my work is also contemporary in its use of cast glass as a significant element of its design. In ancient times, figurative sculpture was made in ceramics, stone and wood, and I have followed that tradition by using clay for my bodies. In old China, glass was used only for religious artifacts and decorative ornaments; its purpose to mimic jade. In contrast, I employ glass as glass to create my heads, hands and feet, a contemporary use of materials.”
A former New York fashion designer, Wang was inspired to become a sculptor after seeing work by Akio Takemori. One lucky day, sometime around the turn of the new millennium, she walked into Garth Clark’s Gallery on West 57th Street in New York City to see Takemori’s sculptures. She knew then that viewing that exhibition would change her life.
“Perhaps my interest in ceramics is what took me to Akio Takemori’s exhibition that day,” says Wang. “From the moment I saw Akio’s pieces, I was hooked. I was literally transfixed by his work. The exhibition consisted of a dozen ceramic figures, about two or three feet in height, of the people he remembered from the Japanese village he had lived in as a child. I had never seen anything like them. My embrace of Akio’s work made me want to do what he did, to become a sculptor, to create my own figurative pieces.”
At the time, Wang was living in New York and working as a fashion designer for Jones, New York – a large, corporate, not “very creative”, clothing manufacturer. Several years earlier, Wang had sold her own design firm because small fashion companies could no longer compete against the large corporations. To satisfy her creative needs, she began experimenting with ceramics, casting plates, bowls and cups, and painting intricate Chinese scenes and people on them. For several years, she continued her career as a designer, but with some encouragement from her husband, she took a giant leap and quit her job to become a sculptor.
For a while, Wang stayed in New York, taking live model sculpture classes. But in 2007, she and her husband moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where she became an artist. Early works included first American children, called Ragamuffins. Then she moved on to Chinese and Japanese courtiers and children. By 2009, Wang had produced enough work to have her first exhibition at Stewart Fine Art Gallery in Boca Raton, Florida. Her sculpture sold well there, and three years later she was invited to join Habatat Galleries. “Since then, I have been creating sculptures as quickly as humanly possible – and having a wonderful life doing so,” Wang says.
Wang’s sculpture can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; Barry Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; Fort Wayne Museum, Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida. She has been honored with the “Artist of the Future Award” by Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, 2019; Fort Wayne Museum of Art Award, 45th International Glass Invitational Award Exhibition, 2017; Art Palm Beach Award for Excellence in Creativity, 2017; Fort Wayne Museum of Art Award, 2015; the 43rd International Glass Invitational Award Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan; and Outstanding Glass Artist of 2013, Florida Glass Art Alliance, Miami, Florida.
Six years ago, Hannah Gregory, owner of Bad Ass Stained Glass, Cervantes, Western Australia, was puttying windows for free in exchange for education in stained glass. In October 2022, the artist spent a month at the renowned Judson Studios, Los Angeles, California, working with some of the best glass painters in the world as well as artists working with glass in non-traditional ways. This was made possible through a fellowship awarded to Gregory by the International Specialized Skills Institute of Australia.
Growing up in Western Australia, Gregory enjoyed a childhood spent by the ocean, around cray-fishing boats and fishing off of the beach. With no fine arts education, she has always been an outsider artist, making irreverent, bold works in painting, drawing, printing and photography until her mid 20s when she became focused entirely on working with glass.
Since 2016, stained glass has been the planet on which Gregory wakes and sleeps. She has now trained, worked, studied and travelled extensively in the US, Europe, and Australia resulting in a comprehensive and contrasting repertoire of both Medieval and innovative skills and techniques for working with stained glass. Residencies have been awarded to Gregory by the Australia Council of the Arts, the International Specialized Skills Institute, the Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, and the American Glass Guild.
A passionate advocate for a more diverse, inclusive and engaging future for stained glass, Gregory is also determined to undermine the outdated expectations and connotations of her beloved craft. Gregory states: “I believe stained glass needs to be where people don’t expect it. It needs to say things people don’t expect it to say. It needs to ask questions. It needs to be in architecture/ outside of architecture. It needs to be thought provoking and collaborative.”
Currently living with her husband in the small fishing town of Cervantes on unceded Yued land, Gregory enjoys working on both architectural commissions and experimental autonomous works. She served as International Artist in Resident at the well-known Swansea College of Art in the UK for what was supposed to be one year, but ended up being two due to Covid. At the beginning of 2022, she returned to Australia where she was awarded a six-month residency at the Fremantle Arts Centre, resulting in a new body of work focused on seaweed. Her work can be found in architecture and private collections across the world.
Upon her return to Australia from Judson Studios, Gregory begins work on two large jellyfish windows, a complex commission for a wildlife photographer and videographer in Oregon for 12 animal skylights, an ongoing larger job in Melbourne that will be her largest job to date, and her Steven’s competition window. She has also just received seed money from the UN International Year of Glass to run some lead lighting workshops for people in regional Australia and is hoping to start glass painting workshops in her studio. She enjoys sharing her passion for glass through teaching and workshops when she can.
Believing that stained glass is a having a bit of a renaissance and hasn’t reached its full potential, Gregory and husband Kris are experimenting with traditional wet plate collodion photography on glass and its applications for stained glass. Other recent projects have included two windows for a door depicting a large protea, some commissioned tattoo designs and some small memorial windows.
Says Gregory: “My work is guided by the concept of transformation from destruction. Stained glass is one of the most enduring artforms in the western world, and its creation hinges on breaking glass, manipulating metals, burning pigment. Every act in fabricating a piece of my work relies on destruction. In its very essence, the building and durability of stained glass relies on a balanced mix of the fragility of glass, and the strength of lead.”
As a storyteller, John Moran’s work is constructed from a series of anecdotes, references, and experiences. While he draws ties to American pop culture, politics, and social issues, it’s not done arbitrarily. The artist attempts to illustrate how he sees the barrage of consumerism, religion, and politics colliding with depictions of social injustice, secular beliefs, and popular culture. These hot sculpted works pack an emotional punch through unforgettable imagery as seen in pieces such as New Times Roman and Sale of the Deathman.
Moran States: “I myself am a product of all of these things; I am American, and America was founded on dissent. To paraphrase Picasso: my work is a collection of lies, hopefully helping the viewer realize the truth. Though for me the truth is not absolute, it is simply how I see the world. It is not necessarily an attempt at subversion, but more an attempt to reconcile, and in a way celebrate, the absurdity and hypocrisy of society.”
These attributes and ideologies made Moran’s appearance on the Netflix glassblowing competition series, Blown Away 3, a personal nod to irony. Originally from Philadelphia, the winner of Season 3 currently resides in Ghent, Belgium, where he directs Gent Glas, a community glass studio he co-founded in 2014. The mission of Gent Glas is to build an inclusive community of artists working to introduce glass as an artistic medium to the public.
Receiving his BFA from Tyler School of Art and MFA from Illinois State University, Moran recently completed his PhD at Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw, Poland. He has participated in several international artist in residence programs including CGCA at WheatonArts, S12, GlazenHuis Lommel, and STARWorks. His work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums across the United States and Europe, including Habatat Galleries, SiC! Gallery, Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, and Delaware Contemporary.
Since winning Blown Away 3, Moran has been extremely busy. October events included demonstrating at Michigan Hot Glass and a Meet the Artist event for the exhibition We Are Blown Away at Habatat Detroit Fine Arts. On October 21 at 7 p.m., Moran will give a public demonstration at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) alongside Minhi England and John Sharvin. Throughout the month of November, he will participate in Habatat’s online exhibition Not Grandmas Glass. His residency at Museum of Glass Tacoma runs from November 9 – 13. In 2023, an exhibition with England and Sharvin will be held at PGC in February and Moran’s Corning Museum of Glass residency – grand prize for winning Blown Away 3 – begins in April.
Of the inspiration for his glass sculpture, Moran states: “It may not seem autobiographical, but my experiences and observations are the genesis of my ideas. Each piece is a reaction to a specific event, but is not an illustration of it. I pull from everything around me. My own political and religious views, art, books, movies, family, and popular culture culminate into layers of seemingly random references, multiple components, and a visual overload that mimics our daily experience.”
Sibelle Yüksek aka Sibelley has made a name for herself in the flameworking and functional glass worlds through the creation of what she refers to as “little women.” After focusing primarily on nudes, she shifted her energies into making video game and anime characters outfitted with accessories and garments. One early complex piece took roughly 40 hours to make. This female rig outfitted with a machine gun is a glass representation of Motoko from Ghost In The Shell.
Considering the sculptural nature of her art, it’s not surprising that Sibelley majored in illustration at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, with the goal of working in fashion. But she fell in love with glass in an elective casting course and decided to double major in glass studies – an artform that would come in handy for sculptural installations and jewelry making.
Moving to Los Angeles, California, in 2014, Sibelley set up a torch in an ill-advised bedroom studio, where she made jewelry until landing a gig at Neptune Glassworks. There, she learned how to make vessels and glassware while experimenting with smokables on the side. The artist credits 2 Stroke with her move into functional glass. While assisting him at his AGE show, he pointed out the many benefits of transitioning into the pipe scene.
In 2018, it all came together for Sibelley after taking a master class with OG flameworker, Robert Mickelsen, who taught her how to refine her sculpting with holloware. “I spent so many years studying the figure in illustration, doing live drawings, looking at comic books, drawing and drawing and drawing. So, the body has always been with me. But when I took his class, everything fell into place. I know how to work with glass and I know bodies, so he was the glue that put it together for me.”
Most of Sibelley’s work is marketed through her Instagram, where she has built a growing following. The artist is still trying to figure out where her pieces fit in to the pipe scene and the art world – should they be found in head shops and smoke shops, or interior design settings? Should they be functional or sculptural? Carly Fisher, Leafly.com, wrote: “There’s something daring and uniquely fitting about a woman facing the flames, not adhering to preconceived notions about how a pipe should look or devaluing its legitimacy as art because it can be used for cannabis. If anything, it’s another example of the limitless ways people are reexamining and elevating cannabis culture to a broader market.”
Combining influences from her teen obsessions with Japanese comic books and gaming, experiences with yoga and bodywork, and her education in fashion illustration, Sibelley’s delicate, naturalistic interpretations of female bodies that double as a pipe put her on the map. She recently held her first solo show at Glass2Grass in Miami on September 4, and she will participate in the upcoming exhibition, Mins Volume 4 on October 14 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The show will feature works from over 200 artists including Sibelley. VIP tickets are available via the link in @minspipeshow Instagram bio. General admission is free. Sibelley will demo at GAS Detroit in June and teach at the Corning Museum of Glass from July 9-16, 2023.
Born in Melbourne and based in Adelaide, Australia, artist Clare Belfrage has maintained a distinguished glassblowing practice for over 30 years. Detailed and complex glass drawings on blown glass forms reflect the high-level skill and mastery of the craft that makes her one of the country’s most renowned artists in this medium. Inspired by nature and its various rhythms and energies, Belfrage’s exquisite sculptural objects express her fine attention to detail and interest in the minutiae of the natural world.
Belfrage states: “As an artist, my point of view is often looking from close up. The big feeling that ‘small’ gives me is intimate and powerful. The industry in nature, its rhythm and energy, dramatic and delicate still holds my fascination as does the language and processes of glass.”
With a long involvement in education, Belfrage has lectured in the glass programs at the University of South Australia, Ohio State University and Curtin University, Western Australia. A founding member of blue pony studio in Adelaide, Belfrage played the pivotal role of Creative Director at Canberra Glassworks from 2009 to 2013. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia and has taught numerous workshops throughout Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States.
Belfrage’s work is represented in major public collections including: most of the Australian State Gallery collections, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Sydney, National Art Glass Collection, Wagga Wagga, Corning Museum of Glass, Peabody Essex Museum, Tacoma Museum of Glass and Toledo Museum of Art, USA, Ebeltoft Glass Museum, Denmark, Ernsting Stifltung Glass Museum, Germany, Castello Sforzesco Museum, Italy, Museo do Vidro, Marinha Grande, Portugal and Niijima Glass Museum, Japan.
In addition to Australia, Belfrage exhibits regularly in North America, Europe, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Her work was recognized for its innovation and originality in 2005 and 2011 with the Tom Malone Glass Prize presented by the Art Gallery of Western Australia. In 2016, the artist was awarded the inaugural FUSE Glass Prize for Australian and New Zealand glass and in 2018 was selected as the South Australian Living Artist Festival feature artist, becoming the subject of the festival’s annual monograph, Rhythms of Necessity, written by Kay Lawrence and Sera Waters. She was also named JamFactory Icon of 2018, presenting a solo exhibition for a three-year national tour.
With rounded corners and soothing pastel hues, Belfrage’s uniquely shaped pieces stand out for their delicate patterns drifting over organic forms. Each of these ethereal designs is “drawn” with glass stringers. The sandblasted and pumiced surface creates a satin finish that really helps to draw the viewer into the layers of pattern, which is quite different from what a reflective surface does. Grids made of softly curving white lines, circular slices, and strips of different colors are just a few of the ways she covers her sculptures. The mesmerizing blueprints contrast the pure simplicity of the sculptural shape, which in turn creates visual depth. Although the artist plans carefully and there is a lot of preparation that goes into each piece, she works consciously with the fluid nature of the material and process so the pattern stretches, softens, and opens up – an important aspect of the final piece.
She told Modern Met: “When absorbed by the natural world, the enduring inspiration for my work, part of my experience of wonder is the contemplation of Time – the way Time is described, measured, and held. It can feel frozen or captured, it can feel sped up, dense with energy, it can feel fleeting, and it can feel endless. The rhythms within the natural world that I observe and work to bring into my making, mark out movement through Time, evidence of the life that is lived, expressing growth, aging, shedding, mapping and binding.”
Belfrage is currently completing a two-week residency at the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah, NSW, Australia, which will result in a solo exhibition to take place in August 2023. She will be exhibiting with Adrian Sassoon Gallery at the art fair, PAD London Design + Art 2022, October 11 – 16 in Berkeley Square, London, and with Sandra Ainsley Gallery in Toronto from October 27 – 30, 2022. Belfrage will also participate in a three-week residency followed by a solo exhibition at Soneva Fushi Art Glass in the Maldives in December 2022.
Renowned artist and designer Helen Whittaker is highly regarded for her new stained glass windows and architectural sculpture in glass and copper. With an aim to engage the viewer through good design and craftsmanship, the artist creates energy and movement intertwining contemporary and traditional elements. Her designs are inspired by the client, the brief and the building, whether housed in historic or modern buildings, in ecclesiastical or secular contexts. As Creative Director at the highly acclaimed Barley Studio in York, Whittaker heads a multi-skilled team alongside Managing Director Keith Barley MBE.
Whittaker earned her MA in Visual, Islamic and Traditional Arts from the University of Wales, from her studies at the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture. Her BA, with a specialism in three-dimensional design using glass and ceramics, is from the University of Sunderland, a Centre of Excellence and the largest glass and ceramics department in Europe.
With 25 years of experience in stained glass creation and restoration painting, Whittaker has completed at least 100 commissions across the UK. In the summer of 2018, one of her stained glass windows was displayed in Buckingham Palace. Recently Whittaker collaborated with David Hockney for his art work in Westminster Abbey, The Queen’s Window and was featured in a BBC documentary about the window. One of her pieces of art, commemorating The Role of Women in the Royal Air Force was formally unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
A Craft Scholar of the Prince’s Foundation, Whittaker has received the prestigious Hancock Medal for High Achievement. She has won several awards (including a commission) through the highly competitive Stevens Competition, and more recently has acted as judge and Chairman of the Judges. Whittaker is a Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters and a Court Member (the executive body) of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, a leading Livery Company of the City of London, whose existence was first recorded in 1328. She presented the Stained Glass Museum 2020 Annual Lecture, has given a Ted Talk and recently addressed the Art workers Guild in London.
ToYG podcast was able to speak with Whittaker in between her work on current projects for All Saints Church, Wetheringsett cum Brockford, Suffolk, and Lily Chapel, Manila, Philippines.
Richard Royal, a native of the Northwest, has become recognized internationally as one of the most skilled and talented glassblowers in the Studio Glass movement. Bodies of work such as his early Diamond Cut series to the more recent Geometrics are the hallmarks of his successful career in glass. The artist began working as a glass sculptor in 1978 at the Pilchuck Glass School, located north of Seattle. After spending a number of years as a ceramist, the birth of a new artistic movement appealed to the young artist.
Working his way through the ranks, Royal became one of Dale Chihuly’s main gaffers. This relationship lasted for a number of years and consequently led to Royal’s emergence in the art market in the 1980s. He has since been an independent artist exhibiting work internationally in both solo and group exhibitions.
Wrote gallerist, Ken Saunders: “When Royal joined the staff of Pilchuck it was ostensibly as a maintenance man. In those early days a guy hired to clean up and a guy hired to drive a truck – Royal and William Morris respectively – might easily find themselves assisting the world’s greatest glassblowers as they worked the hot glass, in demonstrations for students and for themselves after hours and after the summer sessions had ended for the season.
Though Royal was introduced to glass as a student at the Central Washington University he pursued an interest in ceramics and in 1972, he and fellow student Ben Moore built a studio in their hometown of Olympia, Washington. There they created a line of production objects made from clay. The young men worked compulsively and energetically but typically found themselves in bohemian circumstances. Royal made his rent money building high-end wood furniture and endeavored to keep the studio viable while Moore enrolled in the under-graduate program at the California College of Arts.
At CCA Moore met Marvin Lipofsky, who was running the glass program, though Moore did not participate in glass at that time and went on to earn his undergrad degree in ceramics. For graduation, Moore’s parents gifted him with a session at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. There, Moore met Chihuly who liked his energy and encouraged the young artist to help out during the summer programs at Pilchuck and later to attend RISD to earn an MFA in glass. As the small staff of the school expanded to accommodate the explosion of interest in the programming, Moore reached out to his buddy Royal, inviting him to join the staff in 1978. Royal jumped at the chance to get out of Olympia where maintaining the ceramics studio had become a lonely enterprise. ‘I’d heard about what was going on at Pilchuck but I was just thinking about having a job and getting fed regularly. I had no idea what was going to happen…it changed my life.’
After spending the summer of 1978 at Pilchuck, working maintenance and, on many occasions, assisting in the hot-shop during classes and after hours, Royal was invited to stay for the fall to assist Chihuly with his work. Chihuly was assembling a large team that he felt would allow him to create ambitious, large- scale sculptures and installations…
Once winter descended on the Pacific Northwest the team was forced to abandon Pilchuck for the season. Chihuly filled his calendar with Visiting Artist Residencies at colleges and universities around the country and took members of the team with him. Royal recalls the excitement: ‘We’d take over the art department and during our demonstrations the hot shop would be standing room only,’ the team putting on what amounted to a performance with Chihuly playing the master of ceremonies breathlessly directing the action. ‘We would hit the campus like rock stars.’
While Chihuly developed a very specific vision of a large studio employing extremely gifted crafts people to handle very specific tasks in an effort to harness the best each had to offer to the process, most artists working in glass in those days worked in very small teams, basically a handful of artist/friends who took turns leading the creation of their own works with the assistance of the others. ‘We all had our own ideas. In fact, when it was your turn you were expected to have your own ideas for your own work.’ And led by the example set by Dale, ‘everybody was completely supportive of the others and willing to lend a hand if need be.’ Dale set the tone, ‘really supporting whatever each of us wanted to create.’
Royal continued working with Chihuly for nearly 30 years until 2006,. He simultaneously worked at Benjamin Moore Inc. beginning in 1984.
Wrote Saunders: “Royal’s first series of blown objects to find commercial and critical success, the Diamond Cut and Shelter Series, were begun at this time… The most important technical characteristic of this early work was the overlay of color on the outside of the bubble – a strategy that turns the usual process of picking up color first on its head. Royal describes the process: ‘In the Diamond Cut Series I overlaid four or five different colors on the outside of a bubble, brought the blank down to room temperature and used a diamond band saw to cut through those layers…I wanted to create an object that would allow you to look at the outside and inside simultaneously…This was a personal metaphor for exploration, looking inside.” The Shelter Series extended this metaphor reflecting profound changes he was going through emotionally, financially and professionally.
In 1989 his engagement and subsequent marriage to Jana led to Royal’s Relationship Series. The form consists of a top and a bottom of equal size that meet and entwine around a smaller vessel at the center of the sculpture. ‘The Relationship pieces…show two equal entities coming together around a single idea.’ Central to these works was the artist’s sense of scale. Royal committed early on to working in the largest scale that was technically feasible.
Those early bodies of work especially reflect the profound influence Moore and Chihuly had on the artist’s work. Moore’s tight technical approach was itself influenced by Italian Design. Moore blew on-center and his work is often characterized by a restrained use of color. Chihuly, on the other hand, had an organic sensibility but his approach to the creative impulse was as much informed by Warhol as by nature. His pieces were gestural, gaudy and loud in color and in form. Royal thinks that his work has benefited from the influence of these two opposites.
In Royal’s latest body of work, the Geos, the artist has sought to capture the qualities of kiln cast glass in his blown glass constructions. He has emphasized simple and subtle coloration and given the individual pieces a sculptural presence by referencing organic forms as opposed to utilitarian objects. The artist is also reinventing his Diamond Cut series, creating fresh new objects (such as those seen at the top of this page).
Royal’s work can be found in such noteworthy museum collections as The Mint Museum of Art + Design, The High Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Tampa Museum of Art, and the Daiichi Museum (Japan). His artwork is also included in the SAFECO Collection, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM, and the Westinghouse Corporation. One of the first Artists-in-Residence at the Waterford Crystal Factory, Royal continues to teach as both a guest artist and faculty member at various universities and the Pilchuck Glass School. A past grant recipient from the National Endowment for the Arts, he has served as a visiting artist at the Corning Museum of Glass, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Ohio State University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Celebrating her 50th anniversary of working with glass, Emma Varga recently received a Government Ministry for Art grant to create works for four major solo shows as part of the celebration project. These include: Forces Of Nature solo exhibition, Sabbia Gallery, Sydney, April – May 2021; Fragile World #2, solo exhibition, Australian Contemporary, Melbourne, 2023 TBA; Revival, retrospective, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, 2023 TBA; and Long Reef – Revitalization,Manly Art Gallery & Museum, 2024 TBA. The pandemic provided the artist with isolated time in her studio experimenting and creating elements for new works. This week, she teaches two sold-out workshops at Creative Glass Switzerland.
Born in Ada, Yugoslavia, in 1952, Varga graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Belgrade in 1975 earning a bachelor of arts degree in visual and applied art, with majors in glass design and ceramic sculpture. Her work has been heavily influenced all along by her environment and experiences, which have, ironically, served as the catalyst for both dramatic change (in tone and feel), and stabilization (in process, style and focus) of her work over the past 20 years. Political unrest within her home country led the artist to immigrate to Australia in 1995, a move which enabled the true blossoming of her work and the development of both her own signature process and style.
The interplay between how and why Varga makes her work is truly dynamic and beautiful. Behind each of her works, which communicate the simple and captivating beauty of nature so succinctly, is an incredibly complex and labor-intensive process. To make each object, she cuts thousands of tiny glass elements from clear and transparent colored glass sheets and combines them with glass frits and stringers. The sculptural glass objects are made from thin transparent glass layers; glass mosaic elements, colored frits and stringers are assembled on each sheet, according to a complicated three-dimensional plan that she envisions ahead of time. These are then fused together in stages. It takes two weeks to fire and slowly cool down large sculptural works, then a further two weeks to grind and polish all of the surfaces to perfection. Only then it is finally possible to see the inside; all the fine details and veil-like structures floating in the sea of clear glass.
This work is truly a labor of love for Varga, and her recent travels and research have further solidified her devotion to raising awareness surrounding environmental concerns. By preserving the beauty of nature through her work, she contributes to the global conversation in her own personal and powerful way.
Varga states: “Ever since my student years, I was attracted (and traveled) to lonely, remote places, untouched by man: high mountains in Europe, the far north of Norway, Antarctica.
In recent years, escalating danger of global warming and melting of Arctic ice prompted me to not only visit the coldest, frozen places, but also to do something about their protection. I decided to contribute by creating glass objects to raise awareness.”
In the early stages of her career in Europe, Varga participated in landmark exhibitions such as the 1st Coburger Glaspreis1977 and New Glass in Corning 1979, Vicointer in Valencia 1983, Contemporary European Sculpture in Glass in Liege 1989, as well as in 3rd and 4th Interglass Symposium in Novy Bor (Czech Republic) in 1988 and 1991. Her work can currently be found in the collections of the PowerHouse Museum, Sydney; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Art Glass Collection, Wagga Wagga, Australia; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA; The Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade, Serbia; Glass Museum, Ebeltoft, Denmark; Ishikawa Design Center, Kanazawa, Japan, and Toyama Glass Museum, Japan, and numerous major private collections in Australia, USA, Europe, Asia and Africa.
A natural storyteller, Varga draws upon memories from her birthplace in Ada and major events that shaped her life. Her enduring passion has been using her art and her love of nature as an agent for social change, particularly in relation to climate change. In 2017 Varga was invited to join a group of International artists sailing around Svalbard Archipelago, Norway, in waters above the Arctic Circle. She was also the winner of the prestigious Stephen Procter fellowship where she received a 4-week residency at the Australian National University School of Art and Design Glass Workshop. She used this time to experiment and develop ideas for an exhibition based on her observations and photographs taken on this extraordinary journey.
In summing up her five decades in glass, Varga States: “Despite all the tumultuous events in my life (the biggest being a civil war and moving to the other side of the globe) there is one line connecting everything and helping me to persevere: my work in glass.”
The “LIFE ART LIFE William Bernstein” exhibition opens August 6 and runs through October 9, 2022, at the Toe River Arts’ Kokol Gallery, Spruce Pine, North Carolina. This 50-year retrospective of the blown glass work and paintings of William Bernstein showcases the work of an artist who has been at the forefront of the North Carolina studio glass movement for over 50 years. It creates a visual summary of the separate elements of Bernstein’s art over time – his motives, goals, and achievements, while showing his ability to work simultaneously in diverse mediums.
Curated by Bernstein, the artist was assisted by Jordan Ahlers from Momentum Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina. He and Billy selected approximately 40 sculptural works and 20 wall pieces that span his career. The artist’s unique style of incorporating images on glass is mirrored stylistically in his two-dimensional paintings. So much of his work and family life are evident in his art forms – portraits of the people, pets, and environs that surround him.
Both an online and printed catalog will be available that will include narratives about Bernstein’s lifetime of art written by Bill Warmus, former curator at Corning Museum of Glass, and will include images from the show. Writes Warmus: “Bernstein is a minimalist whose style is based upon the dedication to the concepts of honesty, modesty, and humility. It has a feel of its surroundings and of the people of the region.”
Graduating in 1968 from the Philadelphia College of Arts and just married, Bernstein moved to Penland School of Crafts to be their second glass resident artist from 1968 to 1970. He was a co-founder of the Glass Arts Society (GAS) – together with glass pioneers Mark Peiser and Fritz Dreisbach – that formed to bring together the glass community so people could work together and learn from each other. Receiving numerous awards, fellowships and grants, he has exhibited internationally and has artwork in many private and public collections. Bernstein has lived most of his professional life in the rural Celo community, a land trust in rural Yancey, North Carolina, along with his family and artist wife, Katherine Bernstein.
Katherine and William both grew up in New Jersey and met while attending art school at Philadelphia College of Arts. In the early years, Katie worked in hand-built porcelain and Billy, very influenced by Scandinavian and colonial American glass design, started producing a variable line of goblets and sculptural pieces.
In the mid 1970s, glass master and educator Harvey Littleton moved to the area and quickly took an interest in the young artists’ work. He insisted that Katie’s sculpture in clay would translate beautifully into glass. To make his point, he took several of Katie’s clay originals back to his studio and cast them in crystal. The results were wonderful, and Katie started working exclusively in glass.
By the ‘80s, both Bernsteins had established themselves as major forces in the glass world, but to keep their studio running they needed a steady flow of sales, which eventually brought them together in the creation of a line of goblets and tableware. Katie supplied the imagery with melted glass color rods, and Billy formed the result into a vessel. This combination proved very popular and received wide recognition in design journals and magazines. They continue to produce these pieces today under the name Bernstein Glass.
Currently, both Billy and Katie produce individual pieces for gallery shows and collaborate with two assistants on the functional work. Their oldest son Josh is a physician, and their son Alex is a respected glass artist; both live in Asheville, North Carolina. Katie and Billy remain content in their log cabin with their huge dog Murphy.
Says Billy: “This has not only been a year-long process of curating pieces for an exhibit, but a lifetime of making art that connects with all things about one’s life.”
Coinciding with the United Nations’ Year 2022 as the Year of Glass and the 60th Anniversary of the Studio Glass Movement, the “LIFE ART LIFE William Bernstein” exhibition has been made possible by Toe River Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Cary Art Center, Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, the Blumenthal Foundation, and Mountain Electronics in Micaville, North Carolina.
Billy’s Digital Sketchbook: https://www.billysdigitalsketchbook.net/
The perfect marriage of what’s uniquely beautiful about blown and stained glass, Monarch Glass Studio’s Cellular comprises 470 square feet of glass panels installed in the UH2 building at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed and fabricated by Tyler Kimball and his team, this project highlights the magic of the handblown rondel in its role as a perfect accompaniment in stained glass windows.
Says Kimball: “Architecture and pattern always inspire me in my designs. I like each installation of glasswork or individual piece to have its own voice and personality, attaching itself to the place it lives and the people who view it.”
Kimball has been working with glass as his main medium since 1999. Prior to returning to his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, to build his glass studio, the artist lived and worked as a glass artist in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. He’s worked in over 60 studios in production, as a resident or visiting artist, assisting other blowers, teaching classes, assisting in classes, and as a demonstrator. Some of his more recent artist in resident stints took place at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, and as a month-long featured artist at Salem State University in Massachusetts.
A passion for glass has led Kimball down many different avenues over the years, and his favorite project is always the one he’s working on now. His work can be found in many collections throughout the country, including private collections of the Kempers and Soslands, as well as the permanent collections of Salem State University and the Columbus College of Art and Design. His iconic blown sculptures of badminton shuttlecocks with fine detailed lace-like designs are exhibited by the Leopold Gallery + Art Consulting, Kansas City, Missouri. Working with transparency and line-play to achieve motion and pattern in his glass, Kimball pushes the limits of color, pattern and shape.
A chance encounter with a stained glass window in his parents’ Kansas City home inspired Kimball’s early interest in glassblowing. Its prismatic effect, casting a rainbow of gorgeous, vivid colors on the wall, captivated him, sending the youngster on a life-long journey of exploring this ancient craft.
Kimball says: “I couldn’t comprehend how humans could make something so wonderful. This fascination continued throughout my childhood, and in 1999, I started working with stained glass, which eventually led me into glassblowing. I started with cold working glass and was hired at a Seattle studio for those skills. On lunch breaks, I went into the hot glass studio where I first learned to blow glass.”
With a breadth of glassworking skills, Kimball has now built the equipment for, set up the studio, and is currently the head of the glass department of the Belger Glass Annex at Belger Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. Additionally, his studio is currently making more rondels than any other worldwide and is also developing its own line of mouth-blown sheet glass – all while carrying out art glass installations around the country for botanical gardens, hospitals, hotels, senior living centers, restaurants, private residences, Disney theme parks, other glass studios, and multiple independent designers. Monarch Glass Studio recently signed a quarter-million-dollar contract with the city of Lawrence, Kansas, for its new transit facility.
Kimball states: “Love glass. Always have and always will. Light, color, pattern, movement, and depth are all aims in my work. I look to the natural optical qualities within glass to allow these qualities to come through in every piece I create. I also work towards giving the viewer a different piece with each new angle or step taken.”
As one of the Stained Glass Association of America’s new board members and the new chair of the Editorial Committee for the Stained Glass Quarterly, Kimball cares about community and the transferring of information through generous sharing.
Born in Mirano, Italy, Emilio Santini comes from a family with centuries of tradition in glass. With skills in the areas of lampworking, glassblowing, casting and diamond point engraving, he has taught primarily torchworking at many of the major glass schools in the US including Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh Glass Center, as well as at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Currently residing in Blacksburg, Virginia, Santini is dedicating more time to his first love – writing poetry and fiction, with a particular focus on the glass world, past and present.
The product of over 500 years of glassblowing tradition, Santini’s father was his first teacher. At the age of 11, Emilio was sent to work in Cenedese glass factory during the three-month summer break from school. His uncle, Giacinto Cadamuro, was his teacher during that year. For the next five years, the young Santini went back to work for three months in the same glass factory but with different masters, including “Petà” and “Mamaracio”. At 17, Emilio’s father started teaching him lampworking, an activity that became the primary focus of his career as a glass educator.
Santini spent nearly 10 years refining his skills before — after four summers of persistent courtship during her studies in Venice — he married Theresa Johansson and moved to her family home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Without the close family and workshop connections that helped him so much in Murano, Santini struggled to sell his work. He failed to grasp the much more demanding and decentralized nature of the sprawling American art glass market, and the couple returned to Murano.
In 1988, Santini moved with his wife to Williamsburg, Virginia, where he established a small lampworking studio. He made his third and final attempt to immigrate to the US when his wife was hired at William and Mary. During this period, the artist received a call from Peninsula Glass Guild co-founder Ali Rogan, who tracked him down after stumbling across one of his impressive works in a small York County craft shop. With her encouragement, Santini entered the Guild’s annual juried show, where he not only won top prize, but so impressed the juror — a nationally prominent Washington, D.C.-area gallery owner — that she bought his piece and gave him a solo show.
Also during this time, Santini received his first invitation to conduct a demonstration before an audience of collectors, gallery owners and other glass artists at Penland School of Craft. That’s when he knocked on the door of internationally known Studio Glass pioneer, Harvey Littleton, who was so impressed with his unexpected guest from Murano that he invited him in for an eye-opening 3-hour conversation.
Santini says: “Up until then, I really had no idea of what to do with glass beside production and fine design. I didn’t know about making art objects.”
Over the past few years, Santini has concentrated primarily on sculpture and creating pieces that incorporate cast, blown and lampworked elements, along with metal and stone. These represent a major shift in his work, though many of these pieces had their genesis as sketches or models made throughout his creative life. Most recently, the artist has turned his focus to the written word, both prose and poetry, to which he dedicates considerable time and energy.
Since venturing out on his own 34 years ago, Santini has combined his production and fine design work with one-of-kind art objects and sculpture to become widely recognized as one of the top lampworkers in the country. His work can be found in numerous private collections and museums such as the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; The Ca’ Pesaro Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Venice, Italy; the Sheffield Museum, England; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; and many others. He’s blended his superlative technical expertise with his humor, imagination and friendliness to become a nationally known teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as the workshop circuit.
What has been the secret to Santini’s success? He knows Venetian techniques so well, but instead of being secretive about them, he’s generously shared his talents with students, collectors and glass lovers around the globe.
Jim Scheller’s vessel designs are informed by simplicity and abstraction. His work is inspired by Neoplasticism and the artists of that period, beginning with the De Stijl movement of the early 20th century. Always a scientist, he is fascinated with exploring the processes that use heat and gravity to bring his designs to life in glass.
Initially introduced to glass kilnforming in a 2012 Bullseye workshop, Scheller shifted his professional focus following a long and enjoyable career as an engineer and technologist working with creatives worldwide in the athletic footwear and apparel industries. Experimenting and learning about art and glass as a medium quickly became his passion – a transformation he describes as being “taken hostage by kilnforming glass.”
Scheller further developed his technical and artistic abilities in 2014 and 2015 at the Professional Kilnforming Residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Gracious mentoring from many of the best artists and friends – such as Steve Klein and Richard Parrish – further encouraged and refined Scheller’s goals as a glass maker. Early vessel forms were exhibited in For the Love of Glass, at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Atlanta, in 2017.
After two decades on the Chehalem Mountain outside Portland, Oregon, in 2018 Scheller moved his home studio to the Illinois prairie near his son Phillip, where they make decorative kiln formed glass art. Macoupin Prairie Glassworks is located in Staunton, Illinois, near the artist’s childhood home of Mt. Olive, a small town on old Route 66 halfway between Springfield and St. Louis.
There, Scheller takes great pleasure in pushing kilnforming limits and developing new techniques. His works are composed with glass sheets, crushed glass (frit), and glass slabs (billets), then fired to over 1400 degrees F. Fired works are extensively cold worked to achieve the final finish. Number 11 of his series studying the art of the line in composition on the deep vessel shape was recognized in the Bullseye Challenge: Reactions, May 2021.
Click on Scheller’s name for image of his honorable mention piece,
Scheller’s current Ancient Ring series has attracted great interest both at his galleries and on his social networks. From April 28 through July 4, 2022, Quad City Arts’ Art at the Airport presents glass art vessels by Scheller, acrylic sculptural paintings by Sally Havlis of Chicago, Illinois, and sumi-e paintings by Karen Kurka Jensen of North Liberty, Iowa. Vessels in this exhibition are inspired by the work of early 20th-century painters Mondrian, Gorin, Kandinsky, Klee, Tauber-Arp, and van Doesbur.
For more information:
Scheller’s Ancient Rings 13 has been accepted into the St. Louis Artists’ Guild “Constructed Visions IV” biennial, held July 1 to August 6, reception on July 1 from 5 – 7 p.m.
And Philabaum Glass Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, will exhibit Scheller’s work beginning February 4, 2023.
Says Scheller: “The engineer, immersed in the process of making, joins glass, heat and gravity to create works inviting one to view the once molten glass in a dance of light and color.”
“The glass forms of Latchezar Boyadjiev balance the tangible and the intangible. Evoking the sensual undulations of the female figure and the powerful flow of natural forces, his works are composed in fluid, fragmented planes of color marked by fine shifts in depth, tone and translucency. He works monochromatically and uses rich color and light to describe the sweeping contours of the glass as it reflects and refracts through luminous golden yellows, icy blues, and woozy magentas.” – LewAllen Galleries
Considered one of the most important glass artists working today, Boyadjiev’s oeuvre transcends the field of glass so much so that his ethereal sculptures are simply titled with emotions. His dynamic sculptures reflect depth, dimension, and a new approach to contemporary glass art and design.
Born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria, Boyadjiev attended the prestigious Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), under the guidance of Professor Stanislav Libensky, one of the most prominent glass artists of our time and influential source for most glass artists in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 1986, just after graduating from the Academy, Boyadjiev defected to the United States.
After settling in California, Boyadjiev worked for more than 10 years in the field of optical glass, using cold working techniques such as cutting, grinding, polishing and laminating to create the optical glass sculpture for which he initially became known. Because there were limits to the size of object he could create by this method, the artist began experimenting in casting as a means to work larger.
The Academy’s strict curriculum of daily drawing and design classes had its intended effect on Boyadjiev. Today, when working on new designs, the artist keeps drawing until something finally strikes him. New designs sometimes take him hours, days or weeks to complete. Once a drawing is satisfactory, a clay model is made with perfectly smooth surfaces and details. Next, a series of positive and negative molds are produced, a time-consuming and detail-oriented process that leads to the last plaster positive that determines the sculpture’s final form. Initially those plaster positives were delivered to the Czech Republic by the artist in person, with the goal of selecting the best glass casting studios and glass colors available. It also gave Boyadjiev the opportunity to work with some old friends to create his new glass sculptures that were cast into yet another mold, and later annealed, partially ground and polished. Currently, he accomplishes most of his work from his California studio.
Boyadjiev’s new and exciting cast glass sculpture was introduced at SOFA Chicago 1997 to enthusiastic response. These dynamic sculptures reflected depth and dimension, as well as a new approach to contemporary glass art and design. Boyadjiev’s works are commissioned and collected extensively both publicly and privately worldwide. Major collections include the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague, the Czech Republic; the Glasmuseum, Ebeltoft, Denmark; the Glasmuseum der Ernsting Stiftung, Germany; the Museum de Alcorcon, Spain; and the White House Collection, Washington, DC., to name a few. At the moment, he is working on a large commission for a hotel lobby in Macao.
Known for their figurative, abstract qualities depicting the human physique and powerful forces of nature, Boyadjiev’s sculpture is often monochromatic in color, using mainly reds, blues, and yellows, complimented by lighting to place emphasis on the piece’s profile. Art critic James Yood wrote: “His forms take on rich volumetric shape, never literally echoing the shapes of the body, but amplifying or deleting them in what all together becomes a kind of three-dimensional caress.”
From sketch books to glassware, lighting or toilets, Zach Puchowitz’s raw aesthetic, in combination with humorous, self-reflective drawings and scribbled thoughts, are inspired by daily life, inner psyche struggles, low-brow art, subculture and guys from the neighborhood. From his Hot Rod Derby Cars to his Punished Head series to The Idiots, The Kennys and Billy B., Puchowitz’s stunning sculpting skills continue to amaze fans and collectors alike.
Even the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, New York, couldn’t resist Puchowitz’s work and recently acquired his Hot Rod Derby Car #2 for its permanent collection. This functional pipe in the form of a hollow, colorless flameworked car features a bald eagle, two conical black and colorless headlights with diamond-patterning, and a rectangular red-, white-, and yellow-striped license plate reading “WOODY” applied to back. The main character is a flameworked rider with rubber boots, exposed midriff, red fabric bandana, black mohawk with red and yellow tips, and the Anarchy symbol on one side of his head.
Currently living and working in Barcelona, Spain, Puchowitz first experienced glassmaking in 1998. He became addicted very quickly and built his first lampworking studio in ‘99 as well as began studying glass at the Tyler School of Art. While learning that “the glass moves when it’s hot,” the artist was able to develop his understanding of the arts and glass as a material. He sharpened his hand skills in flameworking and furnace glass studio processes while developing his signature aesthetic.
After graduating in 2003, Puchowitz spent a year in Burlington, Vermont, as a resident artist at local glass shops. Needing more perspective, he traveled throughout Europe for three months while he grew out his beard and pondered life. He worked alongside with the late Venetian Maestro, ELio Quarisa, as his teaching assistant. Upon returning to his native Philadelphia, and after shaving his face, Puchowitz established his own multiformat glass shop. In 2007, he began transforming the space that would later become Ouchkick.
Since then, Puchowitz has dabbled in different avenues of the conventional glass artist by returning to his Alma mater to present slide lectures and teaching at local glass shops. The artist has exhibited his work at galleries in Philadelphia, NYC, LA, Denver, SOFA Chicago, Scope Miami as well as many other unconventional events and marketplaces, becoming well-known in the subculture of heady art and glass making.
Puchowitz will be throwing down a few weekend workshops in Barcelona. The classes will run from 12 – 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Workshops include demos, torch time with instruction, glass, etc. Only six seats are available per class: June 11, 12 – Pipemaking 101 workshop; June 25, 26 – Pipemaking 101 workshop; and July 2, 3 – Pro Class –Sculpting. To apply, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put 101 in the subject title and indicate your level of glass experience. Any questions or to find out more details feel free to DM on Instagram @ouchkick. Puchowitz will also teach a workshop in 2023 at CMOG.
“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.”