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Talking Out Your Glass podcast

As editor of Glass Art magazine from 1987 to March 2019, Shawn Waggoner has interviewed and written about multitudes of the world’s greatest artists working glass in the furnace, torch, and on the table. Rated in iTunes News and Noteworthy in 2018, Talking Out Your Glass continues to evolve, including interviews with the nation’s finest borosilicate artists making both pipes and sculpture on the torch. Other current topics include how to work glass using sustainable practices and how artists address the topics of our times such as climate change, the political chasm, and life in the age of technology.
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Hot, Warm and Cold Glass!

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Apr 9, 2021

Daniel Maher: Challenging the Stained Glass Status Quo

Daniel Maher’s work serves as a testament to both his diverse aesthetic interests and his firm roots in the traditions of the stained glass craft. A former employee of Boston-based Connick Studio, in 1989 the artist established Daniel Maher Stained Glass in Somerville, Massachusetts, to further explore a variety of design styles. With the goal of accelerating his evolution as an artist and extinguishing the notion of stained glass as an exclusively traditional art form, Maher made it his mission to explore the textural movement inherent in glass. 

In 2007, a reduction in the number of restoration jobs coincided with the exodus of a few of Maher’s key employees, and thus he began to wind down his studio’s restoration commissions. Currently, residential commissions comprise 75 percent of his studio’s new work with the remaining 25 percent commercial or corporate projects. 

Driven by a goal to introduce prismatic effects into stained glass windows, Maher created his first found objects windows more than 30 years ago in a series called Housewares Graveyard Windows. These colorful, textural panels showcased glass that had been rescued from its ordinary life as serving bowls, platters, goblets, lids, jars, and general household utilitarian objects and made the star of his stained glass symphony.

Over time Maher’s palette expanded, providing fuel for myriad thematic ideas. Some panels centered around old alcoholic beverage bottles, some antique medicine jars, but each created a unique look. One of Maher’s found object windows was featured in Martha Stewart Living’s December 2012 issue. His work, Pig with Corn, was made from a number of glass corncob buttering dishes that Maher silver stained and placed in circumference around the bottom of a giant pig’s foot jar, imprinted with the words “this little pig went to market.” This panel was exhibited at the American Glass Guild Conference in Buffalo, New York, July 2009.

Since 2010, Maher has been incorporating one of the most beautiful glass objects into his stained glass windows. Because none of the commercially available roundels captured the magic he was looking for, Maher decided to learn how to make his own and enrolled in a glassblowing course taught by Jesse Rasid at North Cambridge Glass School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Learning to make roundels resulted in an awakening of creative ideas and a move of Maher’s studio to Cambridge.

Maher’s largest roundel commission was created for the Alfond Inn owned by Barbara and Ted Alfond, Boston, Massachusetts, and Winter Park, Florida. The couple became aware of the artist’s artwork via his lectures at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Because Orlando, Florida, is the home to the Morse Museum of Tiffany Glass, the Alfonds wanted a piece for their inn that would speak to the beauty of the ponds, lakes, and gardens of their city while referencing Tiffany’s legacy in a unique way.

In yet another approach to enhancing the aesthetic and content of stained glass, Maher’s Portrait Windows celebrate specific people and events through their inclusion of photographic imagery. Using a photo-sensitive film, Maher creates a transparency onto which he places the photo sensitive film and exposes it to ultraviolet light. Whether painted and fired in the kiln, etched or sandblasted, the images become a permanent part of the glass and are constructed in the vivid colors unique to stained glass. Photo imaging allows subjects to be rendered that would otherwise be impossible to create by hand painting, traditional sandblasting or acid etching. 

A combination of glass painting and the photo imaging process can be seen in Maher’s three-lancet Harvard Lampoon Castle window, a collaboration with designer by Michael Frith. Frith was the art designer for the Muppets and Sesame Street, and Dr. Seuss’s book editor and close personal friend. All imagery references the history of The Lampoon, an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University i n Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its secret lingo. In the lead and copperfoil combo window, each of three lancets measures 2 by 5 feet and includes 450 to 600 pieces. “The project was a whirlwind with late changes and groundbreaking techniques, but one of the most rewarding projects I have done in my years of stained glass.”

Inspired by the notion of the sun entering prismatic glasses, Maher’s Suntrackers split sunbeams into long bands of color, rainbows, or arcs of light. Optically clear colored glass and prismatic objects combine to create patterns that change through the course of the day or season. A secondary image is created when the sun casts light onto the floor or wall after passing through the glass. Works that include prisms project a tertiary image of overlapping rainbows.

After dedicating 49 years to exploring the possibilities of glass, Maher looks back at his pivotal beginnings, when he invited local architects, designers, and artists to a brainstorming session prior to opening his studio. Out of that meeting, he learned to ask himself the question: Is your work something new and different? Is it unique to your studio? – reinforcing the idea that not only can one produce something new and different in the traditional art form of stained glass, but one should. “The greatest compliment I’ve received,” says Maher “is, ‘I’ve never seen windows like yours before.’”

 

Apr 1, 2021

Elliot Walker: Winner of Blown Away 2

Sculpting and blowing molten glass, Elliot Walker creates still life sculpture inspired by the paintings of Dutch masters. Though exquisite to look at, it was the combination of refined glassblowing skill with the humor and satire of his work that resulted in Walker winning the Netflix series, Blown Away 2. For the moment, prized residencies at both the Corning Museum of Glass and the Pittsburgh Glass Center are on hold due to Covid. But the artist works feverishly on new commissioned works, facilitates a number of creations for several noted designers and artists, and carries out his new duties as champion of marblemedia’s glassblowing competition show.

For Walker, getting to know his fellow contestants on Blown Away 2 and watching them work made his participation on the show worthwhile. “It showed me how welcoming and inspiring the global fraternity of furnace glass workers is.” 

Messums, London, hosted Walker’s inaugural solo show from January 28 through February13, 2021. Plenty, an irreverent look at the culture of excess, presented a new series of sculpture inspired by 17th– century Dutch Vanitas paintings. Employing almost every conceivable technique, the artist transformed classic still life painting objects into ethereal, sculptural cameos that speak both of bounty and its impermanence. Walker’s remarkable technical skills include complex and subtle coloring applications, along with cold processes like cutting and polishing, surface decoration and texturing, adding depth and dazzling intricacy to his forms. 

A show statement from Messums Fine Art Ltd, read: “Elliot is an exciting and talented artist bringing a conceptual edge to a traditional craft with all the hallmarks of a mould breaker…We have been watching the seam between craft and art break over the years, and Elliot’s work irreverently celebrates glass working whilst engaging with our contemporary concerns and pleasures.”

Growing up in Wolverhampton, England, an academic at school, Walker took his A-Levels in science, chemistry and biology. As a boy, he describes himself, as ‘out-doorsy,’ always creating and making things, mostly with pebbles and sticks, inspired by British sculptor and environmentalist, Andy Goldsworthy. He never thought of being an artist when he was a kid because it wasn’t “sensible.”

With a BA in psychology from Bangor University in North Wales, Walker discovered glass at university, taking night classes in stained glass windows. Following his MA in applied arts from Wolverhampton University, the artist established a studio in Camden. He now lives and works in Hertfordshire with his life partner, colleague and fellow glassblower Bethany Wood. She is the owner of the Blowfish art gallery, currently selling Walker’s works online.

Touted as one of the United Kingdom’s finest rising glass stars, Walker has become one of the most active and inspiring artists of his generation. He developed his basic skills and necessary foundations as a creator by studying glass-making in the Stourbridge Glass Quarter, an historic place that has been associated with the glass industry for more than 400 years. He worked for glassblowing legend Peter Layton for about eight years as a part of his London studio team. The artist is also part of a group called Bandits of Glass, where the process of creation is given more importance than the final piece itself. 

Says Walker: “I am a dedicated experimenter with my chosen material and am constantly trying to challenge myself and the audiences of my work to abandon many preconceptions of the material.”

 

Mar 25, 2021

Ross Richmond: Figurative Elements and Symbolic Objects

In sculpting realistic figures of humans and horses adorned with color and pattern, Ross Richmond demonstrates how an artist can push his medium beyond its normal boundaries. The artist creates beautiful and expressionistic sculpture using gesture to convey narrative. Communication has always been the main source of Richmond’s inspiration, whether it be with oneself or between others.  

Richmond discovered glass in 1991 during his time at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he received a BFA in glass, with a minor in metals. He is considered one of the top glass sculptors in the field today and has worked with (and for) some of the greatest glass and non-glass artists including William Morris, Jane Rosen, Preston Singletary, KeKe Cribbs, and Dale Chihuly. Richmond studied and taught at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG), Penland School of Craft and the Pilchuck Glass School. The artist was awarded residencies at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, Toledo Glass Museum and CMoG. His work is represented by a number of galleries across the country.

Working as an apprentice in 1997, Richmond became a member of Morris’ glassblowing team in 1999 and worked alongside him until his retirement in 2007. Morris encouraged teamwork and working outside the box – lessons reflected in both the surface and shape of Richmond’s exquisite horse figures.

All of Richmond’s work is blown and hot sculpted, meaning that nothing is casted or mold blown – all pieces are made by hand while hot on the pipe in the glass shop. First, the main shape of the piece is established then allowed to cool. Working it in a colder state affords the artist a more “solid core” to work from. If the piece is too hot, the shape will distort as the details are brought out. A small oxygen-propane torch is used for all of the detail work, which allows for a greater variety of flame shapes and sizes to work with. Heads are typically blown, whereas all hands are solid. With a blown shape, Richmond is able to inflate areas or suck areas in as needed. Hands are made solid so that delicate fingers do not collapse or distort. All colors are applied in layers of glass powders, and the finished piece is coated with an acid to remove the shine for a matte finish. 

The inspiration for Richmond’s figures made between 2015 and 2018, was derived from ancient Egyptian sculpture, Japanese prints and Art Nouveau graphics, which all use or are inspired by natural scenes and landscapes. All of these different time periods and genres produced works that were highly ornate, yet simplistic in form and composition. Richmond used color and pattern to decorate and adorn the robes his figures are wearing to create imagery and convey a setting or scenery, to place the figure in a natural environment. Imagery of blossoming flowers or trees convey growth or growing to create the feeling of springtime bliss, awakening after the winter slumber. Carved imagery or applied components provide a bas relief and texture to an otherwise flat and smooth surface.

Richmond says: “The figure has always been a major theme in my work, and in this series, I am breaking down the human form into a basic shape as if it were draped in fabric. This keeps the eye from focusing on the details of anatomy, and lets the viewer follow the sweeping gestural lines of the form. The basic shape of the body along with its quiet contemplative facial features, gives these figures a calm meditative feel.” 

In 2016, Richmond and Randy Walker were awarded a collaborative residency at CMoG. Having worked together on the Morris glassblowing team, the two artists utilized well-learned teamwork combined with strengths in form, color, and the ability to push the bounds of the material. Walker created objects that seemed to grow out of and be part of the natural world, while Richmond sculpted realistic figures adorned with color and pattern. Marrying their aesthetic, objects were transformed from natural objects into figurative works. 

Over the last few years, Richmond has been slowly building his own hot glass studio in Seattle. From March 4 through 27, Traver Gallery presents a unique exhibition of works by Jane Rosen and Richmond. Though their influence is always visible in one another’s artwork, this is the first time they have shown side by side. This exhibition celebrates and highlights the critical impact of artist friendships and highlights the vital influence each has on the other.    

 

Mar 19, 2021

Eli Mazet: Revealing the Handmade Shot Glass and the Eugene, Oregon, Glass Community 

Looking to expand his artistic repertoire, torch artist, author and entrepreneur Eli Mazet discovered that today’s flameworkers were not making one of the world’s most collected glassobjects. In 2013 with the support and sponsorship of Northstar Glass, over 40 artists produced more than 70 shot glasses effectively creating the largest handmade contemporary shot glass collection known today. Along with chronicling each piece in his book, The Contemporary Shot Glass, Mazet reviews the rich history and trivia of the smallest drinking vessel. 

One of the most passionate glass artists you will ever meet, Mazet resides in Springfield, Oregon, with his best friend and partner Jessica and their three daughters. Born in Eugene, he is the middle of three brothers all involved with glass. Older brother Josh Mazet graduated with a BFA from the University of Oregon, where he was a resident artist in the university’s ceramics department and instructed their Wood Fire Ceramics program for three years. 

When Eli expressed an interest in learning to work with glass, the brothers set up a small lampworking studio in his garage. During the next two years, while working two jobs, Eli logged hundreds of hours behind the torch. In glass, an outlet for his high energy and a passion for creating art was discovered. He travelled to the coast, selling his whimsical glass creatures to galleries and shops. The response was exciting and encouraging, and soon a family business, Mazet Studios, was established including younger brother Tim and mother Tym.  

Since 2002, Mazet Studios has created lampwork glass pipes, sculpture, marbles, paperweights and pendants from borosilicate glass. Recognition and awards included The Eugene Glass School Flame-Off, Sonoran Glass Academy Flame-Off and Glass Craft and Bead Expo Gallery of Excellence. In addition to their studio work, Josh and Eli regularly instructed lampworking from their private studio and at various schools throughout the US. 

Though Josh left the company, Eli continues pushing forward at Mazet Studios. He has published a second book, The American Shot Glass and the Machine, purchased the rights to Homer Hoyt’s instructional flameworking book, which he now sells, and was instrumental in the documentary film Pipe Dreams USA, which won five awards including the Seattle Cannabis Film Festival. Currently on its way to London’s Cannabis Film Festival, you can watch the film at pipetownusa.com.

 

Mar 12, 2021

Margaret Heenan: Circling the Square

Having grown up in the 1960s and ‘70s, Australian kilnforming artist Margaret Heenan was influenced by the highly stylized graphic designs and patterns of early childhood found on wallpapers, homewares and textiles. From her Perth studio, the artist consistently produces impeccably designed fused glass plates, bowls, wall pieces and sculpture using vibrantly nostalgic colors and patterns. Linear and highly structured and restrained, the final pieces begin as detailed drawings and paintings referenced for cutting the glass, which must be accurate to achieve a seamless fit. An artist with dual aesthetic sensibilities, Heenan is also known for her more painterly kilnformed glass, strongly influenced by the Australian landscape.

Heenan’s love of calligraphy and fine lettering led to her discovery and love of glass art. Earning a diploma in these subjects required the completion of a special study, which she carried out with a neighbor who was a stained glass artist. Lettering a couple of large liturgical windows sparked Heenan’s passion for glass and resulted in her appreciation for heraldry – how to interpret blazons (armorial bearings) and how to draw and paint coats of arms. She remains a Life Member of the Calligraphers’ Guild.

Earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Western Australia, 2004, Heenan went on to study glass with well-known artist-instructors such as Richard Parrish, Lee Howes, Judi Elliot, Jeremy Lepisto, Mel George, and Ian Dixon. She worked with David Hay and Holly Grace at Edith Cowan University during the final term of her BFA as part of a cross-institutional enrollment to access hot glass at Hyaline Glass Studio. 

With work in private collections in England, South Africa, Australia, America and China, Heenan is represented by Gallows Gallery, Mosman Park, Perth; Jah Roc Gallery, Margaret River, Western Australia; Aspects of Kings Park, West Perth; and Gallery Aura, Kojanup, Western Australia. The artist’s work was featured in the book, Best of World Wide Glass Artists, Vol 1, and three Heenan pieces were chosen by Spectrum Glass catalogue to promote System 96 Glass in the US.

After a career of perfecting both technique and design, Heenan’s goal of having her work recognized by its unique and stylized treatment of color, pattern and form has come to pass. 

Feb 18, 2021

Irene Frolic: Personal History, Memory, and the Interdependence of Beauty and Decay  

In 1948 at the age of 7, Irene Frolic arrived in Canada after almost three years in a United Nations refugee camp in Salzburg, Austria. A Jewish child, who had miraculously survived the grimmest of Grimm Fairy tales in the dark heart of Europe, arrived not knowing a word of English into a new world. Trying to make sense of these mysteries remains at the heart of her work in cast glass to this day. 

The little Canadian girl grew into a well-educated young woman. Frolic married, travelled the world, had children, and held a good job before discovering glass in her early 40s, inspiring a sea change witnessed in her evolution to becoming an artist. Almost 40 years later, Frolic continues to infuse her cast glass with knowledge, feelings, history and heritage. 

Working from her Toronto studio, Frolic has been involved in the international Studio Glass movement, helping to develop the art of kiln cast glass as a material for artistic expression by teaching workshops, lecturing and exhibiting world-wide. Past president of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC), which honored her with a Lifetime Achievement award, she is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (RCA). Her work is exhibited internationally and found in many public and private collections, including those of the Museum of Decorative Art, Lausanne, Switzerland, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Museo del Vidreo, Monterrey, Mexico, and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo, Ontario.

Glass, which surrounds us in our modern urban landscape, is one of the most ancient, seductive and mysterious of materials. The quest to find a way to use it beyond its easy allure has propelled Frolic and has sustained her 40-year art career. By developing and exploring the emotive qualities of glass as a medium, she has explored her personal history, commented on memory, and mused on the interdependence of beauty and decay.

As the Covid pandemic continues, new sculpture is underway at Frolic’s studio. Her latest work, She Loves Us Still: Earth, addresses humanity’s treatment of our planet and each other. She says: “It goes back to my beginnings and how close I came to be extinguished. On October 13, 1941, in my hometown, Stanislawow, at nine weeks of age I was held in my 18-year-old mother’s arms, at the edge of an enormous hastily dug pit at the Jewish cemetery. I understand it was bitterly cold. The thousands of people herded there were all naked. The shooting continued all day – 12,000 Jewish citizens met their deaths that day. The reason I am still here, approaching my 80th year, is that it got dark…too dark to kill. I am full of anguish about the way we treat each other today. If strangers live among you, love the stranger as yourself and do him no harm. Love the stranger, both within and without.”

Feb 10, 2021

CZ Lawrence: A Thin Line Between Humor and Pathos

Charles Ziegler Lawrence was a man who could have easily held his own in a conversation with the likes of Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, or Hunter S. Thompson. Whether reflecting on his life as a young artist in 1960s Greenwich Village or reliving the making of five windows for the National Cathedral, all of his stories were replete with an equal amount of psychedelic detail. Though the truth of the tale was never in question, the content was unbelievable.

Lawrence seemed as unlikely a candidate for the priesthood as he did for a life dedicated to liturgical art; however both are his truths. Sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant, the personal history of this “existential iconoclast” blurs the thin line between humor and pathos. His professional success might very well be the reward for having learned how to walk that line.

From his obituary: Lawrence, 83, died on January 1, 2019. He began his career in 1956 as an apprentice to master craftsman Rudolph Henrick Beunz. In the 1960s while attending design school at Pratt Institute, New York City, Lawrence worked in the glass department of the Rambusch Decorating Studio where he perfected skills in glass painting and color selection. In 1968 he went to work for the Willets Stained Glass studio in Chestnut Hill, where he completed prestigious commissions for the National Cathedral, the Temple of the Latter Day Saints, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, as well as the University of Rochester, and Penn State University. In the 1980s Lawrence established his own studio in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, completing additional commissions for the National Cathedral, as well as works for the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, St. Mary’s at the Cathedral, Andorra, PA, the Burlington Bridge Commission in NJ, and the Gore-Tex Manufacturing Co., in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Lawrence received The Stained Glass Association of America’s faceted glass design award twice, the Interfaith and Forum on Religious Art and Architecture award twice, and the St. Francis Xavier Chapel Award of Excellence. In 1994, the SGAA presented Lawrence with its Lifetime Achievement Award. A senior advisor for the American Glass Guild, he was also an associate member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters. 

There will never be another CZ, as he was affectionately known, partially because stained glass and what it takes to conquer the craft has forever changed. But the art and the artist will be represented throughout the ages by his many bold, gothic revival style masterpieces.

In 1994 Lawrence made his final window for the National Cathedral. This small, two-lancet window is located in the east end of the cathedral in the chaplain’s office. In most cases, he didn’t bother to make or apply the putty himself, but this time was special. Lawrence combined linseed oil, whiting, and lampblack, the major components, and added one last special ingredient—the ashes of Angus, his beloved dog who had died and was cremated during the making of his previous cathedral window. 

Said Lawrence: “The cathedral was done, and Angus was in a safe place for the coming millennium. After that we will be together again. I am sure God knows how much I’ve missed him and She will bring us back together. Until then, I know I will always have a friend in the cathedral and so will Tracy, Vanessa, and whoever else comes after them.” 

Recorded live at a coffee shop at the 2012 American Glass Guild conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this podcast conversation was created from the TOYG archives. 

 

Feb 4, 2021

Mike Luna: Enter the Dragon

The ancient Chinese regarded the dragon as the most potent of all symbols of energy and good fortune. They believed it to be the harbinger of incredible luck, prosperity, abundance, consistent success and high achievement. These are the very gifts Mike Luna’s dragons have bestowed upon their creator. A pipe artist, grower and smoker, his love for the cannabis plant is at the center of a successful career designing and fabricating the industry’s most beloved dragon headies, pendants and sculpture.

Born in Torrance, California, in 1978, Luna was raised in Santa Fe Springs until age 15 when he moved to O’Brien, Oregon, to start high school at Illinois Valley High. After high school in 1996, he moved to Los Angeles and began working in automotive retail. By this time older brother, Chris, had already started his journey into glassblowing, and in 1999 offered Mike a job back in Oregon. Luna found work in a production shop ran by Gilbert Velosco. There, he met and befriended soon-to-be functional glass legend, Darby Holm, who took him under his wing as an apprentice in 2000. Luna says: “Learning under Darby changed my life! He and the Holms are like family to me. They are a big part of the reason I’m still in Oregon constantly learning and trying different things with glass.”

On February 6, 2021, Ziggy’s Smoke Shop in Huntington Beach, California, presents Enter the Orb, Luna’s current solo exhibition of new work and collabs with the likes of AKM, Ryno, Darby, Justin Carter, and Salt. His work will also be on view September 18 at Lifted Veil Gallery in Los Angeles, and in December at 2Sided Gallery, Stanton, California.

Jan 29, 2021

Blown Away Season 2

Arguably the hottest show on Netflix, the glassblowing competition series Blown Away–once again featuring expert glassmakers from The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) –returned for a second season on January 22, 2021. The Museum also hosts an exhibit of work made during Season 2, featuring one object from each of the 10 contestants. The exhibit Blown Away: Season 2 opened on the Museum’s West Bridge the day the show launched.

CMoG, which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass, the library of record on glass, and one of the top glassmaking schools in the world, has served as a key consulting partner for the series since its conception. When the first season of Blown Away launched in the summer of 2019, CMoG was invited into the spotlight, bringing to the program its expertise in an artform that much of the world was discovering for the first time through the show.

“We are so pleased to again partner with marblemedia to put glass in a global spotlight,”said the Museum’s president and executive director, Karol Wight, of CMoG’s relationship with the Canadian production company behind Blown Away. “Watching new audiences around the world embrace glassblowing because of this series has been exciting, and we look forward to seeing that enthusiasm grow with the release of a second season.”

This season introduces a new group of 10 talented glassmakers from around the world as they compete for the title of “Best in Glass.” Season 2 is once again hosted by Nick Uhas, with resident evaluator and glass master Katherine Gray.

Artist Contestants

Andi Kovel, Ben Silver, Brad Turner, Cat Burns, Chris Taylor, Elliot Walker, Jason McDonald, Mike Shelbo, NaoYamamoto, and Tegan Hamilton.

Guest Evaluators

Episode 1: Alexander Rosenberg – Season One Competitor; Episode 2: Benjamin Write – Pilchuck Glass School; Episode 3: Kathryn Durst – Animator and Illustrator; Episode 4: Heather McElwee – Pittsburgh Glass Center; Episode 5: Bobby Berk – Interior Designer “Queer Eye”; Episode 6: Michel Germain – Perfume Designer; Episode 7: Stepheen Weatherly – Defensive End, Carolina Panthers; Episode 8: Sunny Fong – Fashion Designer, VAWK; Episode 9: Deborah Czeresko – Season One Champion; and Episode 10: Robert Cassetti – Corning Museum of Glass.

In the season finale the Museum also provides the two Blown Away finalists with the expert assistance of its Hot Glass Demo Team—Eric MeekJeff MackHelen TegelerCatherine AyersGeorge Kennard, and Chris Rochelle. A blockbuster ending to a 20-year career at CMoG, shortly before his retirement from the Museum senior director Rob Cassetti served as the final guest evaluator, helping to select the winner of the competition.

“It feels like I’ve come full circle,” said Cassetti, who developed the Museum’s hot glass programming. “When we first launched our demo at the Museum, we called it the Hot Glass Show, and put our makers on a stage. We knew glass was inherently exciting, and we wanted to bring that to our visitors. So now for the Blown Away series to capture that magic, bottle that energy, and to share it with the world through Netflix it’s really unbelievable, and it was a joyful honor for me to be part of it.”

As part of the prize package, the winner of the show will receive the coveted Blown Away Residency at CMoG. In 2019 the Museum hosted Season 1 winner, Deborah Czeresko, for three week-long working sessions. The residency takes place in the Museum’s Amphitheater Hot Shop where a live audience can meet the winner and watch the artist make new works. CMoG will host the Season 2 winner as soon as COVID restrictions allow.

“We are thrilled that Blown Away returns for a second season, available to Netflix’s global audiences to stream on January 22,” said Matt Hornburg, executive producer and co-CEO of marblemedia. “This show’s success is due in part to our valued partnership with The Corning Museum of Glass, and their unwavering support and guidance. Their contribution to the grand prize, offering a prestigious residency to the winner, raises the stakes that much more. We are thrilled that the Museum is showcasing the exceptional work done by these esteemed glass artists from season two. Seeing these pieces on display, representing the true essence of this show, is very rewarding.”

This special episode of TOYG podcast features interviews with Hornburg, Cassetti and artist contestant Mike Shelbo in this behind the scenes look at Blown Away Season 2.

Jan 23, 2021

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Jan 15, 2021

Micah Evans’ Paradigm Shift

Micah Evans blew people’s minds with his fuctional flameworked glass sewing machines that balanced clean traditional craft form and personal sculptural work. Referring to his glass obsession as “a disorder,” Evans was the first flameworker to receive the glass residency at Penland School of Craft, which he served from 2012 to 2015. 

He says: “Lately I seem to be describing my work falling into two categories, things I love to make and things I have to make. The first category is easy; I am in love with the material. Like many glass artists I am a slave to the substance, the way it behaves and looks, the way it demands and gets my full attention whenever I work with it. I love to work with the material, therefore whatever I am making brings with it a genuine feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. The second category is harder to define but equally important. The work I can’t help but make are the ideas that won’t let me sleep, the ideas that have me drifting off in conversations to my own world of redesigning and problem solving. It’s the repeated execution of the simple shape that seems to inhabit every page of my sketchbook at the time. It’s exploring ideas over technique and the struggles that come with that process. These two worlds often interact, and I bounce back and forth constantly.”

Born in Cashmere, Washington, in the eastern foothills of the Cascade mountains, Evans moved to Seattle in 1996. He attended The Art Institute of Seattle, focusing on computer animation and illustration before he started flameworking at Stone Way Glass in 1999. After relocating to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, in 2000, the artist opened his first glassblowing studio two blocks from the beach. Five years of workshops and hustle in addition to the struggles of coping with the federal crackdown on pipe making inspired a transition to making more traditional craft objects and personal work.  

Upon resettling in Miami, Evans became a studio assistant to William Carlson, chair of the Art Department at the University of Miami. Shortly thereafter he began working with ceramic artist, Bonnie Seeman, combining glass and ceramics. Through working with both of these artists he was introduced to SOFA and Art Basel.

In 2008, Evans relocated to Austin, Texas, where his personal artwork and pipe designs began to mature and develop a symbiotic relationship. His friendship with pipe maker and sculptor SALT pushed both artists in new directions. A 2011 class at Penland with Carmen Lozar inspired a big shift in Evans’ career. He describes his subsequent Penland Residency as “the most wonderfully brutal four years” of his life, where he learned to balance the dynamic of pipes and fine art in more than one way. 

In 2016, Evans began designing full time for GRAV Labs, a product design company based in Austin, Texas. Working with glassblower, designer and engineer, Stephan Peirce, Evans has learned the language of industrial and product design. This opportunity presented him with a window into glass manufacturing that changed the way he thought about the material and how it can be used. He regularly visits glass studios and factories in China to research new ways of working and designing in borosilicate glass, with a current focus on engineering and adapting small-scale manufacturing processes observed in Asia to his studio practice. These events inspired a “paradigm shift” in Evans’ understanding about borosilicate glass and what can be done with the material.

Currently building out an expanded studio space at GRAV Labs focused on both R&D and his own work, Evans travels, teaches and lectures at schools and universities around the world about flameworking, design and glass subculture in the United States.

 

Jan 8, 2021

The Secular Reliquaries of Therman Statom

Therman Statom – sculptor, glass artist, and painter – is most notably known as a pioneer of the contemporary glass movement for his life-size glass ladders, chairs, tables, constructed box-like paintings, and small-scale houses; all created through the technique of gluing glass plate together. Sandblasted surfaces become a canvas for spontaneous vibrant colors and line work, which take nuances from Abstract Expressionism and concepts of Minimalism, while simultaneously incorporating a twist by using blown-glass elements and found objects. 

Born in Winter Haven, Florida in 1953, Statom spent his adolescence growing up in Washington, D.C. His interest in the arts grew from a fondness of painting and he began to investigate ceramics at RISD. However, after an experimental glassblowing session with Dale Chihuly, he was soon hooked on the spontaneity of hot glass and its limitless possibilities. Statom went on to pursue studies at Pilchuck Glass School during its inaugural year, completing a BFA in 1974 from RISD, and later studied at the Pratt Institute of Art & Design. 

Throughout his career, public artworks have been permanently installed at prominent locations including the Los Angeles Public Library, Corning, Inc. Headquarters, the Mayo Clinic, San Jose Ice Center, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Jepson Center for the Arts in the Telfair Museum, Savannah as well as several hospitals across the country. 

Statom’s artwork appears in numerous exhibitions annually, including solo and group shows around the nation and internationally. Over the span of his career, he has completed over 30 large, site-specific installations. Most notably in recent years, his 2009 solo exhibition Stories of the New World, at the Orlando Museum of Art, which spanned over 5,000 square feet, has been his largest installation to date. Exploring themes related to Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1513 search for the fabled Fountain of Youth as a point of departure, the installation referenced historic and contemporary themes of hope, discovery, ambition, and destiny. Visitors traversed the gallery space consisting of a mirrored maze, panoramic glass wall mural, a room-size structure built entirely of glass, and video projections. In conjunction with the exhibit, Statom partnered with the educational department of the OMA and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Eatonville to work with over 80 young students to create a work of art titled “Glass House,” which was a large, walk-though structure built from glass boxes designed by the children. The piece was later displayed at the annual summer community festival. 

Much of the latter half of Statom’s career has been focused on the importance of educational programming within the arts. He has taken a deep interested in employing workshops as a catalyst for social change and in affect, positively impacting a community. Working directly with the artist himself, adults and children alike share a combined experience of exploring art making via a hands-on experience. Inhibitions and limitations are left by the wayside, and the practice or act of “doing” becomes a journey of self-discovery, creating an opportunity for the participant to go to a new place within themselves.

Says Statom: “I believe art can be understood both conceptually and intuitively. I think there is a need for the general public to come to an understanding that to appreciate art and creativity they must trust his or her self; that extensive education is not a prerequisite for understanding art. Much of what I do is seeded in what is more of an intuitive process; a large portion of my work is exploring these processes within people and their environments.

“The fact is, I believe that creativity is a part of all aspects of what people do; my studio and educational efforts via workshops and the support of outside programming, general educational and cultural institutions, are a reflection of this belief. I feel that art is tool for empowerment and education. It’s also a viable tool to investigate positive change and engage a culture through exploration.”

 

Dec 16, 2020

The De La Torre Brothers: Irreverence as a Tool for Reinvention

Through their Ultra-Baroque polycultural work, Einar and Jamex De La Torre tackle topics of identity and contemporary consumerism. Influences range from religious iconography to German expressionism while also paying homage to Mexican vernacular arts and pre-Columbian art. They don’t consider themselves glass artists per se, but treat glass as one component in their three-dimensional collages, one that interacts with a multitude of chosen – not found – objects. Einar recalls their mother’s fondness for puns as a likely source for the brothers’ own interest in multiple layers of understanding. 

Collaborating since the 1990s, the De La Torres were born in Guadalajara, México, in 1963 and 1960. They moved to the United States in 1972, transitioning from a traditional catholic school to a small California beach Town. Both attended California State University at Long Beach. Jamex earned a BFA in Sculpture in 1983, while Einar decided against the utility of an art degree. Currently the brothers live and work on both sides of the border, The Guadalupe Valley in Baja California, México, and San Diego, California. The complexities of the immigrant experience and contradicting bicultural identities, as well as their current life and practice on both sides of border, inform their narrative and aesthetics. 

Gussie Fauntleroy wrote in the July 2009 issue of American Craft: “Similarly, in their art the brothers intentionally disregard conventional borders between dichotomous pairs such as high and low art and sacred and profane, and between deluxe objects and the detritus of everyday life. Virtually every assemblage and installation incorporates blown glass or cast-resin elements in sumptuous colors that shimmer, juxtaposed with an array of … objects, including plastic toys, snack food wrappers and old tires.”

https://www.craftcouncil.org/magazine/article/de-la-torre-brothers-and-border-baroque

The De La Torres have been honored with The USA Artists Fellowship award, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, The Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, and The San Diego Art Prize. They have had 18 solo museum exhibitions, completed eight major public art projects and participated in four biennales. Their work can be found in the permanent collections of Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Museum of American Glass, Millville, New Jersey; The Kanazu Museum, Kanazu, Japan; Frauenau Glass Museum, Frauenau, Bavaria, Germany; GlazenHuis Museum, Lommel, Belgium; and the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, to name a few. Private collectors include Alice Walton, Cheech Marin, Elton John, Irwin Jacobs, Terry McMillan, Sandra Cisneros and Quincy Troupe.

Guest instructors at Penland, UrbanGlass, the Pittsburgh Glass Center and Pilchuck, the De La Torre brothers have shared their multifaceted knowledge of glass technique including blowing, bit work and flameworking with students worldwide. In the last 15 years they have been creating photomural installations using Lenticular printing as a major part of their repertoire. 

“If ever there were a case where materials and their masterful use provide a perfect match—and metaphor—for an artist’s concepts and themes, it’s in the art of Jamex and Einar de la Torre,” wrote Fontleroy. “How better to convey the rich complexity and alchemic intermingling of border cultures than through mixed media creations as multilayered, thought-provoking and engaging as the cultures themselves?”

 

Dec 10, 2020

Karsten Oaks: Dynamic Symmetry

Using optical crystal, Karsten Oaks cold works sculpture that bends light and color via its unique forms. Often a discernible object appears from a momentary perspective creating a vision that allows the viewer to connect on a more personal level with the piece. This mystery inspires a deeply personal relationship between viewer and object and sets Oaks’ work apart from that of his coldworking contemporaries. 

He says: “When working on the design within the piece I’m using elements of dynamic symmetry such as spirals and ratios. Using different shapes in the sculpture while staying consistent with the proportions I can create a sense of harmony within what would otherwise be a disorganized form. Even after all of the major reductive cuts have been made, I leave some of the design to be laid out when the rest of the piece is almost complete. I feel that this mild sense of chaos through the work’s creation gives each piece its personality and character when it is finished.”

Born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Oaks took an interest in the arts at an early age. He started playing music when he was 10 years old and went on to play a variety of instruments. As the son of a trained chef, Oaks grew up learning an appreciation of working with his hands in a creative way and enjoys cooking to this day. When he was 16, a friend introduced Oaks to glassblowing as a medium, and he traveled to Tennessee to take his first classes. This sparked the beginning of Oaks’ love of glass as a means to express his artistic vision.

Now one of the most respected and trusted cold workers in the glass sculpture world, Oaks received his BFA at The Appalachian Center for Craft at Tennessee Technical University under the mentorship of Curtiss Brock. There Oaks realized that the necessity of working quickly with glassblowing or hot sculpting did not give him the creative time needed to fully think through his sculptures. After graduating, the artist relocated to Seattle, surrounding himself with leading artists in the field of glass. His first cold working client was Martin Blank, who convinced Oaks that he should open a cold working studio to offer his services to other artists while continuing to formalize what would eventually be his own body of work.

Oaks was cold working for a list of respected artists when he met Lino Tagliapietra and was selected as the only artist to cold work and finish the maestro’s sculptures made in the US. This steady supply of work allowed Oaks to finally open his own studio, and as time permitted, develop his own artistic vision. In September 2014, Bender Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, began to represent his work at the gallery as well as SOFA Expo Chicago, Art Palm Beach and Wheaton GlassWeekend with great response.

Nov 27, 2020

Lucy Lyon: Every Gesture Tells a Story

 

In these pandemic days of limiting contact with others and contemplating the dangers of simply being with another person in a shared space, Lucy Lyon’s ambiguous figurative works take on new meaning. Using a stunning combination of technical prowess and a sculptor’s eye, the artist transforms cast glass into atmospheric settings whose characters’ stories, stances, and placement are open to viewer interpretation. Whether solitary or in groups, the figures reflect their state of mind through gesture.

 

Lyon says: “Even though we are all meeting up with each other and interacting in twos or threes or crowds, each of us is essentially alone. That brings up a bit of melancholy, but it also makes the individual unique and therefore very important.”

An only child, Lyon was artistically inspired at a young age by perusing her mother’s art books that depicted works by Edgar Degas, Francisco Goya and Thomas Hart Benton. Later, in her early twenties, the artist became aware of Edward Hopper’s work. Though Hopper’s were painted and Lyon’s are cast in glass, their figures convey a shared sense of being alone, isolated, even in the company of other figures, reflecting that people have private thoughts in public places.

 

Born in 1947 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lyon graduated in 1971 from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, earning a BA in philosophy. Further educated at Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, she has taken a number of workshops across the country from well-known glass artists. Working with glass since 1979, for the past 26 years the artist has been creating breathtaking tableaus from her Jaconita, New Mexico, studio.

 

Lyon’s work is included in the permanent collections of numerous museums including Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida; Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan; and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin. Public commissions include the Sandy Hook Memorial; Night Read for Glencoe Public Library, Glencoe, Illinois; and Waiting Room for Western New Mexico University, Silver City, New Mexico. Recent exhibitions include Divergent Materiality, at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Narratives in Glass, held at Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California. Lyon is represented by Habatat Galleries and Lewallen Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

As with many artists, the seductive quality of glass, along with its ability to be sculpted, attracted Lyon to her medium. In much of her work characters read in libraries, places where one can be in a private and public space simultaneously. Settings or environments have been pared down over the years to simple geometric forms. Walls present opportunities to explore color and blending. For Lyon, the greatest challenge and satisfaction is born of sculpting her figures using subtle gesture - a turn of the head or twist of the hips- to express the figure’s state of mind. The refined figure is the cornerstone of Lyon’s sculpture.

Nov 19, 2020

Jon Kuhn: A Matrix for Eternity

 

Inspired by metaphysical studies and a couple of out of body experiences, Jon Kuhn developed an aesthetic language for expressing the architecture and light of the non-physical world. Though his life as an artist began in ceramics, interest in spiritual studies influenced the artist’s move to glass. Because similar to mediation where we go inside ourselves, glass can hold information and light within.

 

Regarded as one of the leading glass artists in the world, Kuhn has work in over 45 international museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Carnegie Museum, the White House Permanent Collection, National Museum of American Art and hundreds of private residences and public spaces. In 2006, the artist was presented with an Honorary Doctorate for Life Achievements from his alma matter Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.

 

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and the son of a political science professor, Kuhn briefly attended Shimer College, then moved on to Washburn where he received his BFA in 1972. Although still uncertain about pursuing a career as an artist, he had learned a great deal about the vocabulary and processes of art and pursued these ideals via ceramics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, receiving his MFA in 1978.

 

Interested in metaphysical studies from a young age, Kuhn read his first book on Zen Buddhism at age 12. In college he studied the I Ching or "Book of Changes" - an ancient Chinese divination manual and a book of wisdom which interprets hexagrams formed by tossed coins to form answers to questions about the future. The I Ching is a cornerstone of Chinese philosophy, describing the basic elements of the way to enlightenment (happiness, inner healing, holiness, in God living). He also read many works written by Edgar Cayce, who founded The Association for Research and Enlightenment in 1931 to research and explore subjects such as holistic health, ancient mysteries, personal spirituality, dreams and dream interpretation, intuition, philosophy and reincarnation.

 

Early explorations in glass revealed themselves in blown, irregularly shaped globes with crusty exteriors. Kuhn cleaved off slices of the raw-looking exterior to reveal the sparkling glass within,

providing us with a window onto our inner selves. But it was his personal involvement in a meditation group on healing that led him to express the qualities of light and architecture only experienced in the non-physical world. Through his sculpture so readily recognized today, the artist began to convey an interior life or central drama with a powerful pull on our imaginations.

 

After moving to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1985 Kuhn began focusing on his signature processes - cutting, grinding, polishing and laminating - which put him on the map and has delivered consistent acclaim ever since. At last, expressions of the light and architecture of the spiritual realm could be reflected in his cubes, columns and monumental works meticulously crafted in the purest glass fabricated on earth. If light is life, Kuhn’s sculpture is the stage on which the possibilities of this world and others can be pondered.

 

Of cold glass artists, Kuhn’s work stands out for its complexity, its geometric forms and above all, for its presence, which conveys a spiritual quality. Kuhn says, “The goal of spirituality is perfection. Striving for perfection has never been more evident than in what I do. Perhaps my glass sculpture could become an architectural model of a vision for a better world.”

 

 

 

Nov 13, 2020

Simon Howard: Traditional Craftsmanship Meets Striking Design

Born into a working-class family in the industrial town of Lancashire, England, Simon Howard designs and fabricates traditional stained glass through meticulous craftsmanship and sensitivity to architectural surrounds. In demand as a skilled glass painter and restorer for other studios, the artist endeavors to create new contemporary commissions for domestic, private or public spaces. 

Some of Howard’s notable works include his Beddoes Window, a commemoration of an 18th-century physician and his tragic Romantic poet son, full of playful symbolism; his Laura Ashley Windows, a full suite of windows for a remodeled Arts & Craft home (previously owned by Laura Ashley); the artist’s Talog series, created for clients who gave Howard creative free reign in their beautiful traditional Welsh farmhouse; Whitland Circles & Milo Stripes, his personal favorites; and his commission for Oldham Royal Hospital, a 3 metre tall panel in the hospital’s mortuary chapel. 

Howard’s history reads like great novel. He writes: “Oldham was one of the powerhouses of the industrial revolution, a cotton spinning town with incredible pockets of wealth, beautiful civic buildings, rows upon rows of worker’s houses that supplied the brick mill with labor and a skyline full of tall chimneys pumping out smoke. My family were mill workers for generations and these ‘dark, satanic mills’ (as William Blake called them) and the rows of blackened Victorian terraced houses formed the background to our family stories. 

By the time I came along in 1970 the region was well into a crippling decline, and my parents had a series of disparate jobs passing each other on the stairs to our ‘60s maisonette as they swapped shifts in working and looking after me and my older brother and sister. My mum was a seamstress and a district nurse and my dad began work in a large glass supplier. My very early memories of visiting my dad at work are of huge A-frames of green-edged slabs of polished plate and of feeling proud that this was my dad’s arena. He’d be there, in darkened leather wrist guards, calloused fingers in plasters. I’d watch him effortlessly pick up these enormous sheets and carry them to his cutting bench and watch him making quick pencil notes on his list of sizes, working out what he could get from the sheet with minimum waste. T-square, the sing of the cutter, and the snap…all with speed and confidence…and the swift clatter of the thin strips of waste shattering in the cullet. I never had any ambition to work there, but I loved the magic of it. 

The funny thing about my dad, and I still wonder now where the impulse came from, was his love of art, the art of the old masters and the Modernists. He was a Grammar school boy, so his education was good, and he was a lifelong reader, later a merchant seaman, but I can’t think where his love of art sprung from. I mention this as it’s because of him that I became an artist; as a young kid I would spend hours looking through his art books, and it became apparent early on in school that I could not only draw, but that art was where my curiosity lay. I tell people now that I never really wanted to be anything else (apart from a rock star in my teens. But don’t we all?). From 5 or 6 I knew that was part of my identity and what I was going to become. My parents were always very supportive. I heard other kids speak of their parents’ resistance to them studying art, but mine were right behind me even when they didn’t have a clue what it was I was making. 

Through school I was a painfully shy kid. My family and I moved town just before starting secondary school so I arrived without friends; I do wonder whether that had a huge influence on me. But I became well-known through my ability to draw. I was bullied early on at school (I’d eventually dress quite outlandishly, which the other boys hated me for because the girls liked it!), but I’d draw on demand in order to not get beaten up. Like a lot of kids, art and music were everything to me (it’s still pretty much the case). 

I went on to Art School in London, the Byam Shaw School of Art, a wonderful independent school (founded by John Byam Shaw, one of the Arts & Crafts/Pre-Raphaelite group), where I went on to make minimal installation based work, which often used the body (my body) and its relationship to its environment as a way to examine metaphorical space, the gaps in language/communication, thresholds, the in-betweens, the space where one thing becomes another. I’m still very proud of the work I did then and would happily still show it now. My intention was to stay in London and try to make my way as an artist but in reality, I think I’d realized that I wasn’t a natural networker and didn’t have the confidence in fighting for funding or for the spotlight. 

I left and spent a year or so volunteering for art galleries back up north until I was offered work with my brother who had spent the previous 10/15 years working with my dad. Mark had left school, began work as a glass cutter, but had decided to set up a decorative glass business within my dad’s place. It was a real family business, my sister ran the office, and on the shop-floor were a few cousins. Also, a natural artist, his talent rose to the surface and needed an outlet. He spent these years learning new skills, researching any technique he could find in mainly American books and magazines to broaden his knowledge. He became the only person we knew back then who was creatively sandblasting, engraving, deep reverse-carving, glue-chipping, kiln-forming, fusing, casting, painting, and enamelling. He became well- known for it across the north west, until he eventually began making traditional stained glass. 

Whilst I was still at art school, I’d spend my holidays working with Mark where I’d learn all these techniques from him. He’d exploit my time there by giving me larger projects that he saw needed my artistic input, and I’d watch the panels get made up by him and the guys that worked for him. I’d go on to start making my own pieces, but even then I really only saw it as work, a chance to earn some money before heading back down to London. 

The next few years, I really was at a loose end. My long-term girlfriend had gone to teach English in Japan and life had seemingly hit a wall. I took the money I’d been saving whilst working with Mark and went travelling. I spend around 18 months going around the globe, across America, Australasia, South East Asia, India. I had the best time and felt some changes. But, back home I fell back into working with Mark; by this time my dad’s company had been hit by recession and closed, my dad had swallowed his pride and had gone back to glass cutting for a company he’d left, and Mark had set up his own place. I worked there for a few years, still thinking that it was only a stop-gap for me until I figured out what it was I wanted to do. I started really delving deep into the international architectural glass books that Mark was buying (they were as rare as hen’s teeth) and realizing that there was something for me here (remember, this was pre-internet days, knowledge of what was happening creatively elsewhere was still found in traditional sources….it also helped that Brian Clarke was an Oldham born artist and his largest piece, in the world at the time, had just been installed in Oldham’s newly built shopping center). I still didn’t really know if architectural glass fitted me yet, but it was a huge step up from what I’d understood the discipline to be. 

I spent a long time thinking about the separate polarities of art and craft and their overlaps until I reached a point where I felt comfortable setting aside the kind of art I’d previously made and seeing that glass craft had a value and could also be enquiring and expanding. Mark emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, around this time, and I had a few months to consider whether I would take over his business and continue on my own. Eventually I decided to and spent a couple of years slowly shedding what was previously Mark’s and pushing forward what was mine. I needed to do this. I needed to know if the decision was right, if I really could spend the foreseeable future as a glass craftsman and not an artist. 

One thing I found necessary was to streamline the business; my time was being taken up with commissions that involved processes I had no love for. I realized that I could make interesting, contemporary work using just traditional stained glass techniques. It was all in the design. I slowly started guiding the small commissions I was getting into the kind of work that satisfied me. I began being more constructively critical of, not only other’s work, but of my own, until I started getting a portfolio of work together that I was reasonably comfortable with. It was still early days, but I saw potential and felt the discipline begin to take ahold of me, get into my veins and become part of my everyday consciousness. I started looking at images produced by other artists, not only stained glass, but printmakers and textile artists and wondering if I could do something similar with glass. I was consciously pushing what I saw as possible, trying to make what I hadn’t seen elsewhere. Looking back on some of those early pieces I’m still surprised by the odd unexpected detail or the ambition in such a small, unimportant piece. 

Around this time, I met my wife and we started a family. Helen is from rural Wales, a first-language Welsh-speaker, and it felt natural that we would decide to relocate to her home town to bring up the boys. Llandeilo is a beautiful place, an old, hill-top market town that has a surprising wealth of creative folk below its surface. We moved here around 14 years ago and, after previously occupying huge studio spaces, I now work from a small garden workshop. The major change from the work I did up north is due to the almost total absence of traditional period glass locally. When we first moved I was horrified. Much of my work up north had been in restoring and repairing period pieces, and here, there wasn’t that kind of showy decoration, even the chapels were plain glazed. As it turned out though, in hindsight, due to the explosion of social media, I began to get more and more small, interesting commissions from clients who didn’t have an automatic association with the period work I was doing up north. 

My current practice is an ongoing search for what interests me visually and technically. I’m a bit of a purist and, despite my experience and knowledge of a wide range of practices I like now to only use mainly mouthblown antique glass, lead and vitreous paints. I acid-etch flashed glasses, I don’t use enamels. If I need to I plate glass, I don’t use laminates or glues. It’s a personal choice; I like the restrictions that the traditional practices give me. 

My work tends to flip between apparently simple abstract, pattern-based pieces where any reference to subject is restricted or absent, and playful, painterly, heavily stylized naturalism. It depends on the commission. I was told in art school that my art practice didn’t seem to have a recognizable fingerprint; I would be using whatever was needed in order to make suggestions and connections within each piece. I sometimes wonder if my work is still the same; one can often recognize a fellow maker’s work. They have a particular style. I’m not sure whether I do. I’ve been told otherwise, but I still don’t know what that fingerprint is. Again, it’s down to the commission. It took me a while to feel comfortable with commission-based work, comfortable with the inevitable compromises that are made when meeting the client halfway with a design. But I’m getting better at dealing with it now. I think having a body of work behind you gives the client trust in you if you feel compelled to push a piece in a certain direction.”

 

 

Oct 29, 2020

As a queer person of mixed race, Corey Pemberton often feels other. Knowing nothing about his African roots and very little about his European heritage, the artist considers lineage and the idea of connectedness in his glass art, paintings, and other works on paper. Pemberton’s vessels, blown glass baskets based on those of his presumed ancestors, are made in a European style that borrows forms and patterns from the sweetgrass weavers of South Africa. He says: “I use color and pattern as vehicles to describe situations where society has used a person’s uniqueness against them; where people have been labeled or categorized based on physical characteristics in an effort to hold them back. Can we, as a society, find a way to unite in our otherness?”

Born in Reston, Virginia, in 1990, Pemberton received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012. After graduating and relocating to Augusta, Missouri, he worked as a production glassblower under Sam Stang and Kaeko Maehata. Subsequent travel through Norway and Denmark exposed the young artist to both country’s rich design history as he worked with fellow glass artists. Upon return to the US, Pemberton participated in a Core Fellowship at Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, North Carolina.

Currently residing in Los Angeles, Pemberton splits time between production glassblowing, his painting practice, and Crafting the Future (CTF), an organization he co-founded with furniture artist Annie Evelyn in early 2019. CTF partners with organizations across the country such as Louisiana’s Young Aspirations/Young Artists, known as YAYA; Kentucky’s STEAM Exchange; North Carolina’s Penland School of Craft; and Maine’s Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, with the goal of increasing access to education and opportunity for underrepresented artists in order to help them develop thriving careers. In 2019, CTF raised more than $8,000 to send two young New Orleans students, Tyrik Conaler and Shanti Broom, to Penland School of Craft. 

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, a growing number of artists have banded together to fundraise for student scholarships. The CTF membership page went live in February 2020, and in the next three months culled around 50 members and $2,000. Following the killing of George Floyd and several other innocent African Americans, and the ensuing protests that raised awareness of racial injustice, membership increased to more than 1,200 by late May. Over the next few months, CTF raised over $175,000 for scholarships and other programming, though more is needed to affect lasting change.

If you’re interested in joining or donating to Crafting the Future, visit:

https://www.craftingthefuture.org

Striving to bring together people of all backgrounds and identities, Pemberton breaks down stereotypes and builds bridges, not only through his work with CTF, but in his personal artistic practice. In the artist’s recent solo show creature, comfort at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) of Raleigh, North Carolina, painting, photography, and hand-blown glass came together to create visual environments that depicted subjects in both real and imagined homes. Pemberton’s goal was and is to make his subjects relatable and intriguing, so that viewers consider those subjects fully and are able to see themselves in the work. 

Join Corey Pemberton next spring at the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Perry Glass Studio for a lecture and free demonstrations during the 2021 Visiting Artist Series. Next summer, the artist is scheduled to teach at Pilchuck and in the fall at Penland with Cedric Mitchell.

 

Oct 22, 2020

On the morning of September 8, a dry brush field north of Ashland, Oregon, caught fire along Almeda Drive. The National Weather Service called for a red-flag wind warning that day, predicting gusts upward of 50 mph, which was bad news for Oregon fire officials. The state was already battling more than 10 other major fire incidents, exhausting state resources. Strong winds from the east pushed the fire north, parallel to Interstate 5, resulting in the complete destruction of the towns of Talent and Phoenix, Oregon.

Before it stopped, the Almeda fire burned more than 3,200 acres, destroyed 3,000 structures, including one of Fire District 5’s three firehouses, and killed 3 people. It stopped south of Medford, a city of 82,000 residents, when the winds eventually shifted. Police said the Almeda fire had two points of origin, the first in Ashland and one later in Phoenix. Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, has been charged with starting one of the fires.

Artist studios destroyed by the fire include DoJo Glass Studio, Phoenix, including glassblowers Big Country, Jay (birddog) Harrower, Amani Summerday, Mia Shae Williams and Doug (Taco) Williams. Other glass community members affected by the Almeda fire include artists Ron Regan, Adam Kissinger, Bernie Rodriguez, Jenay Elder and Gabe Arafai; glass collectors Shawn Thompson and Benjamin. Two dispensarys burned to the ground, and those employees are also being helped by the Southern Oregon Glass Community Relief fund, to which over 350 people have donated so far.  

On September 13, birddogart posted on his Instagram:

As most of you have already heard or seen, several miles of our beautiful little Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon burned down on September 8th due to a catastrophic wildfire. Over 3000 homes burned, countless businesses burned to the ground, and many lost everything. Our shop was one of the businesses lost that day. As with any disaster, many have risen to support those affected. We have local efforts as well as the national support of the glass and cannabis industries, which has been phenomenal. I know there has been some confusion as to which GoFundMe is which and who gets what help. None of us has ever been through loss like this before, and there is no handbook, so we’ve done our best, and we are supporting each other as well. 

The support and love from this community has been overwhelming. There is a team of us making sure that the disbursement of funds is equitable, and that people have their needs met. My vision is that we will be made whole very soon because you all rock, and then we can be pillars in our community and help those who don’t have access to the amount of amazing people and resources that we do. We will get through this together, and I can’t express enough how much you all have meant to us during this trying time, whether it be shops, collectors, or other artists. Thank you so much!

In this conversation, Lacey St. George Walton, aka LaceFace, discusses the fire and its effects on her local glass and cannabis communities. Talking Out Your Glass podcast and all of its sponsors, along with Mountain Glass and Lampwork Supply, have made donations to Southern Oregon Glass Community Relief (SOGCR). Click on the link below to donate now!! Follow @LaceFaceglass on Instagram for the latest on the recovery.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/for-glass-fam-in-southern-oregon?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&rcid=0b877f45487743f690cf1a046d2fbcba

 

Oct 15, 2020

Celebrated for her innovative, colorful blown glass and flameworked Amulet Baskets, Laura Donefer is also known for artwork that pushes boundaries by exploring memory, assault, bereavement, joy and madness. The artist has been using glass as the primary medium in her work for over 38 years, all while teaching, producing unforgettable glass fashions shows and promoting the glass arts worldwide.

Born in Ithaca, New York, but raised in rural Quebec, Donefer studied sculpture for a year in 1973 at the National Art School of Cubanacan in Havana. Back in Canada, in 1975 she graduated with honors in Literature and Languages from Dawson College and in 1979 with honors from McGill University, both located in Montreal, Quebec. After traveling the world and working with many interesting people, Donefer trained as a glass artist at Sheridan College, Ontario, graduating in 1985. 

A tireless promoter, Donefer lectured extensively on Canadian contemporary glass in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Australia, including the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.; the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona; the University of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii; and during AUSGLASS in Sydney, Australia. She curated a number of exhibitions in the United States to showcase Canadian work. In 1985, as president of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC), Donefer was instrumental in uniting glass artists across Canada by publishing a quarterly magazine, The Glass Gazette, which developed into the major voice of Canadian glass artists. In 2006, GAAC awarded Donefer its first Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her tireless efforts in the advancement of art glass in Canada. 

By conducting countless workshops worldwide, Donefer has influenced students from Red Deer College, Alberta, to Penland School of Crafts, Bakersfield, North Carolina, to the Sonoran School, Tucson, Arizona; and beyond in Japan and Australia. She served on the staff in the glass department at Sheridan College and was permanent faculty at Espace Verre, Montreal, for over 18 years, helping to mold the school with her dynamic classes. She continues to teach regularly at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, and at the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, where she has served on the International Council for 17 years. 

Since the mid-1980s, Donefer’s work has been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions, including shows at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Japan; the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Hammelev Arts and Culture Centre in Denmark; the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston; the Museo del Vidrio in Mexico; and the Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, China. Her sculpture is included in many public and private collections, including the Corning Museum of Glass; the Tacoma Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington; the Museum of Art and Design, Manhattan; Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida; Barry Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan; and the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio. She is currently represented by Habatat Gallery and Sandra Ainsley Gallery. 

A past board member of the Glass Art Society (GAS), in 2008 the organization presented Donefer with its prestigious Honorary Membership Award. Donefer has produced 15 of her unforgettable glass fashion shows, many for the organization. In 2018, her ground-breaking event included 33 glass costumes in 12 gondolas gliding through the canals in Murano, Italy. Her next glass fashion show is slated for GAS 2022. Donefer has also been awarded The Lifetime Achievement Award from Craft Ontario; the International Flameworking Award for “extraordinary contributions to the glass art world”; and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass award for her role in the glass community.

On hiatus due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Donefer spends her days near Harrowsmith, Ontario, with her amazing husband “The Mighty Dave” and her dachshund Mr. Lance. She has become a mushroom detective, searching for and photographing these living sculptures and their unique forms and colors while exploring a new body of Covid Anxiety paintings. Donefer’s collaboration with glassblower extraordinaire Jeff Mack is currently on view in a ground-breaking exhibition curated by Tina Oldknow and Bill Warmus, Venice and American Studio Glass, at Le Stanze del Vetro Museum in Venice. 

 

Sep 25, 2020

Public art projects present many technical and aesthetic challenges including, first and foremost, how the artist conveys her concept to a broad swath of the general public. When considering the Multnomah County Central Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, Lynn Basa took on the challenge of translating the principles of hope for users of the new building.

She says: “The American justice system is ultimately based on hope – hope that if you do something wrong and get caught, that you’ll get a fair trial; hope that if you go to trial you won’t get convicted; hope that if you get convicted, you’ll get a light sentence. Judges hope that they will be fair and impartial. Underpinning all of this is the hope for rehabilitation, to re-enter society, to lead a productive life.”

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) selected Basa to create a 25’ x 71’ glass artwork for the lobby of the new 17-story Multnomah County Central Courthouse. Designed by SRG Partnership / CGL Ricci Greenethe new courthouse is located at Southwest First Avenue and Madison Street. The artist chose Bullseye Studio to fabricate her 1,775-square-foot work – a series of 120 5′ tall x 3′ wide panels composed entirely of kilnformed glass. The panels required more than 200 firings and three years to complete.

Basa’s design for the two-story artwork—viewable from the lobby, the second and third stories of the building, and from the building’s exterior—was inspired by conversations with the project’s Artist Selection Panel, courthouse judges and employees, as well as formerly incarcerated community members. The focus of the artwork is a landscape that reflects the rippling passage of behavior, through redemption and rehabilitation, that is sought in the community justice process.

Basa says: “The composition reads from left to right. It starts out hot and in turmoil then becomes cooler and calmer. The crime and the criminal run hot. The job of the justice system is to treat that heat with cool rationality, to calm the waters. On another level, the artwork is a landscape. Living in the Pacific Northwest means living with the constant awareness that you’re on top of a volcanic chain, contrasted by being surrounded by water. The Wilmette River runs next to the courthouse and, of course, Portland’s famously rainy climate.”

Throughout the country, Basa has completed numerous public art commissions in mosaic, glass, steel, terrazzo, and light. In her studio, she paints with an ancient medium called encaustic that is a mix of beeswax and oil pigment. She is the founder of the Milwaukee Avenue Alliance, a community organization dedicated to the equitable cultural and economic reawakening of three blocks of the vintage, working-class main street where her storefront studio is located. With an undergraduate degree in ceramics from Indiana University, the artist earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and an MPA in public art policy from the University of Washington. Basa’s book called The Artist’s Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions, is based on a class she developed and taught at SAIC.

In order to create effects similar to those of encaustic painting, her primary medium, Basa elected to use glass for the Multnomah County Courthouse project. Bullseye Studio developed a process for translating between the mediums, then executed the work in colored crushed glass on canvases of opalescent white glass. She chose to work with Bullseye Studio to translate her imagery from encaustic to glass based on the success of her prior work with Bullseye’s team creating mosaic columns for TriMet’s Orange Line stations

Funded by Multnomah County Percent for Art and managed by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), Bullseye Studio worked closely with SRG, RACC, Multnomah County, Hoffman Construction, and the engineering firm KPFF to realize this massive project. Installation of the artwork was performed by Artech.

 

Sep 18, 2020

In a time of darkness, Julie Conway relies upon her studio practice for survival, but also as a means of sharing sparkle, beauty and light with the rest of the world. A glass artist and lighting designer, she founded Illuminata Art Glass Design LLC to offer bespoke, luxurious custom lighting designed to amplify molten glass and its abilities to refract and reflect light. Named in homage to the Italian Renaissance thinkers and artists who expanded public consciousness, Illuminata currently offers a new version of enlightenment for the masses. 

Says Conway: “We are dealing with grief, emotions, change, and finding life routines. There have been some solitary days in the studio. I put my time into some deep designing and launching new content on my new readymade website. My team and I have returned to blowing glass in limited capacity with a few extra juggling steps, but I am so happy to be back producing glass and installing new commissions. For me, it has been so important to have my studio practice. Getting lost in creative projects has now become a mode of survival. I feel that we must continue to find things that inspire us. The only way through is through. Feel the light. It is here for us.” 

A passionate collaborator, Conway works closely with architects, designers and clients to create extraordinary hand-made, illuminated glassworks. She conceives all site-specific original designs and executes their fabrication in the hotshop with her team. Crafting the suspension systems, creating the blueprints for armatures, and integrating the technical electrical components are all part of her process. By communicating and coordinating with teams of electricians, installers, architects, designers and clients, her artistic vision is achieved. Merging concepts of art installation with functional design, spaces are transformed by light.

She says: “Light is fascination, attraction, a beacon, it is life. Light travels for eons before our existence. We see it after the millennia have past and the fleeting moment is gone.”

Beginning in 1997 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Conway took her first steps on the pathway to glass working as an apprentice for three and a half years alongside a glass production artist. From 2003 to 2011, she served as a class organizer, teaching assistant and Italian translator for various glassmaking classes on the island of Murano. Subsequently, she spent years teaching glassblowing and flameworking herself at Public Glass, San Francisco, and Pratt Fine Arts, Seattle. In addition to lighting, Conway creates glass jewelry, small sculpture and Christmas ornaments from her workspace within Seattle’s Equinox Studio, a nexus of collaboration where artists often contribute to each other’s projects and have renter equity in a collection of industrial buildings. 

Recent awards include Conway’s selection as the 2017/ 2018 Visiting Artist for Motif Seattle, a hotel that blends its identity to the vision of an area artist on a rotating basis. In 2018, the artist participated in LuxLumen, an art glass lighting exhibition for Berengo Studio and Gallery, shown during the Venice Biennale in Murano.  Her work FracTur(ed), exhibited at Glasstastic, the Bellevue Arts Museum Glass Biennial exhibition, won the global lighting award from Light in Theory.  In 2019, she designed, created and installed chandeliers at SeaTac Airport and Din Tai Fung in Seattle.  

In 2007, Conway founded BioGlass, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the efficiency of glass studios and glass making practices, and disseminating the latest information on the best practices to lower energy usage in glass studios. On a recent trip to Mexico, the artist began a collaboration project for her new LUMI Collection, making products from recycled glass and using a biofuels furnace with zero carbon footprint.

Conway’s work evolved outside of the gallery scene due to the functionality of glass lighting. Instead, her illuminated installations adorn luxury hotels, bars, restaurants, award-winning homes and museum exhibitions. The Illuminata collection is an intentional juxtaposition of elegant blown glass forms and industrial elements surrounding patterns of light and shadow unique to Conway’s artistic expression, merging concepts of art installation with functional design. The result is the transformation of space via light.

 

Sep 11, 2020

Bandhu Dunham: Exploring the Intersection of Self and the Natural World

The 1950s and ‘60s marked the heyday of kinetic sculpture with Alexander Calder’s mobiles and Jean Tinguely’s junk machine that destroyed itself in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art. But to glass lovers, Bandhu Dunham put himself on the same map with his 2016 Rube Goldberg-esque Escape Room created for Arizona State University as a reflection of how sports could evolve 24 years into the future.

Dunham says: “Nature inspires me, the interplays between art and science always interest me, and glass merges these fields like no other material. After many years, fanciful steam engines and other kinetic sculptures represent a full turn of the circle, back to the colorful, magical mysteries that captivated my childhood self. He’s still in there, and he wants you to come play, too. I think that people like watching kinetic gizmos with gears and pulleys and crankshafts because, in a paradoxical way, these machines re-connect us with nature.”

Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1959, Dunham began to teach himself lampwork technique in 1975 while still in high school. As an undergraduate at Princeton, he received informal training from the University’s glassblower before completing his apprenticeship under American and European masters at Urban Glass, the Pilchuck Glass School and the Penland School of Crafts. The artist regularly teaches workshops at craft schools and private studios around the United States and internationally including the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass, The Penland School of Crafts and the Pilchuck Glass School. A visiting foreign instructor at Osaka University of Arts in Osaka, Japan, Dunham has presented his work at numerous international conferences including The Glass Art Society, Ausglass, The International Festival of Glass, Kobe Lampwork Festa and Glassymposium Lauscha.

An internationally respected glass artist, author and teacher, Bandhu’s work can be found in the permanent collections of numerous museums in the US and abroad, and his Contemporary Lampworking books are the authoritative, standard instructional texts in the field. In addition to fabricating one-of-a-kind glass sculptures and goblets, Dunham supervises his apprentices in creating unusual gift items and decorations of his conception from his studio, Salusa Glassworks, Prescott, Arizona. In 2018, he designed a groundbreaking kinetic sculpture fabricated by Ryan Murray, GANESHA (Guard Against Negativity; Express Sane Healing Attitudes), for The Melting Point Gallery, Sedona, Arizona.

He says: “The effect on the viewer is a playful mix of contemplative fascination with bursts of excitement as the marbles make their way up and down the track. I enjoy seeing how much viewers of all ages and backgrounds are engaged by the simple drama of marbles circulating through a kinetic system. The key elements of art-as-experience are brought to life in this complex yet simple theatre. We are reminded of life’s magic when we allow ourselves to be captivated by the colorful story unfolding before us. In the best case, the world looks a little different after we have spent some time watching one of my machines.”

Dunham has established a Patreon page to support the creation and dissemination of his informative, inspiring and amusing videos about glass art. 

Visit http://www.patreon.com/bandhu

Aug 27, 2020

Christina Bothwell: Transforming Symbols into Spirits of Creation

Exploring themes of birth, death, animal-human relationships and parallel worlds suggests that Christina Bothwell is a magical realist. Her work conjures scenes from fables or children’s stories in which something impossible is happening quite naturally and spontaneously. 

Bothwell says: “Since I was very young, I have been fascinated with the concept of the Soul… the idea that the physical body represents only a small part of our beingness. I am always interested in trying to express that we are more than just our bodies, and my ongoing spiritual interests and pursuits have run parallel to the narrative in my pieces.”

Bothwell studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia before teaching herself how to work with ceramics and cast glass. The artist lived and worked in Manhattan until 1994 when she and husband, artist Robert Bender, relocated to rural Pennsylvania – along with their three young children, eight pets, plus a snake named Lucy. Nature, the main source of inspiration for her work, helps Bothwell maintain an awareness of the interconnectedness that exists among all of life.

By the late 1990s, Bothwell was having some success making doll-like figures out of clay, found objects and cloth. But a perceived “disturbing quality” sometimes made the work a tough sell. A 1999 glassmaking workshop at the Corning Museum of Glass provided the breakthrough she needed. Realizing glass could do all the same things as clay but with an added element of delicacy and lightness, Bothwell has been combining the two materials ever since – a pairing that has become her aesthetic signature.

Since those early days, Bothwell has won numerous scholarships and grants including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a Virginia A. Groot Foundation award for excellence in sculpture. Additional awards and honors include the 2018 Artist of the Future Award for Most Compassionate Artist, Imagine Museum, Saint Petersburg, FL; The Haven Foundation grant, Brewer, ME; and the Craft Emergency Relief Foundation grant, Montpelier, VT, to offset damages and loss of artwork caused by a devastating studio fire Bothwell and Bender suffered in August 2018.

Bothwell’s work is held in permanent public collections such as the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY; Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; Shanghai Museum of Glass Art, Shanghai, China; Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL; Palm Springs Museum, Palm Springs, CA and the Alexander Tutsek – Stiftung foundation, Munich, Germany. She is represented by Heller Gallery, NY; Habatat Gallery, Royal Oak, MI; and Austin Art Projects, Palm Desert, CA.

With an exhibition at Heller Gallery scheduled in February 2021, Bothwell contemplates new work. “My subject matter includes babies, animals, and children as they embody the essence of vulnerability that is the underlying theme in my work. Currently I am exploring metamorphosis as a topic, and have been incorporating figures within figures in my pieces. Within each glass figure there is a smaller figure seen through the surface of the glass. I think of these pieces as souls, each being pregnant with their own potential, giving birth to new, improved versions of themselves.”

In this special AMA (Ask Me Anything) episode of Talking Out Your Glass podcast, patron and co-producer Anthony Cowan participates in interviewing one of his favorite glass artists, Bothwell, as a reward for his support of the podcast via Patreon. If you’re interested in supporting the continued documentation of glass and glass artists while earning extra episodes and other rewards, visit 

www.patreon.com/TalkingOutYourGlass

 

Aug 13, 2020

Creating under the pseudonym 2-Stroke since 2013, Christopher McElroy constructs one-of-a-kind pipes and rigs adorned with his colorful, psychedelic, textile-inspired patterning technique known as Heliocoileh. His current body of work includes polychromatic water pipes, dry pipes, cups, marbles, and beads, created with the philosophy that the ornamentation of daily objects serves to elevate an experience from mundane to mystical.

McElroy earned his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and his MFA from The University of Washington, where he studied under Mark Zirpel. His early glass mentors Emilio Santini, Sally Prasch and Rick Schneider encouraged him to forge his own path from the very start of his relationship with the medium. His sculptural and functional works have been exhibited at The Henry Arts Gallery (Seattle, Washington), Anderson Gallery (Richmond, Virginia), Traver Gallery (Seattle, Washington), Missoula Art Museum (Missoula, Montana), Dampkring Gallery (Amsterdam) and Pismo Fine Art Gallery (Aspen, Colorado). 

Teaching has played an important part of McElroy’s history with glass and includes flameworking instruction at Kyoto University of Art and Design in Japan, Penland School of Crafts, the Corning Museum of Glass, Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel. 

Growing up in Southwest Virginia’s scenic rolling hills and farmlands shaped McElroy’s affinity for agrarian and wilderness landscapes. Informed by color relationships in plants, animals, lichen, and minerals, the artist studies and examines how colors convey information of biological purpose. Lessons of age, nutrition, fertility, and danger are communicated among entities that speak the language of color.

Informed by avant-garde contemporary fashion, ceremonial objects of pre-columbian South American cultures, and textiles from around the world, the artist cites artistic influences to include Robert Irwin, El Anatsui, Kelsey Brooks, & Tom Sachs. Color, collection, and craft have always been and remain at the core of his studio practice.

In early June 2020, the artist exhibited new work in a four-person show, A Time for Passion, held at Stoked, Connecticut, and will be a part of Mins, a group pipe show held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 16, 2020. 

From his studio in Hudson, New York, McElroy discusses the transition from sculpture to pipes, and how art school training affects his approach to functional glass.

 

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