Charting new territory in functional glass art, Patrick McDougall and Subliminal Glass redefine what is possible in terms of size and complexity of their builds, made possible by utilizing a team approach to fabrication. Taking risks with every large, complicated boro art pipe, Subliminal Glass is highly recognizable by its inclusion of characters from the Simpsons, Mario Brothers, and Rick and Morty. One recent tube displayed 14 partying classic Looney Tunes characters in perfectly intricate detail.
“It’s not common for boro artists to want to go really large and elaborate due to the risks involved with that kind of construction,” says McDougall. “I think training so many artists has helped a lot. The team dynamic is something that hasn’t really been taken advantage of in our industry.”
At age 19, inspired by heady glass in local shops, McDougall headed to Portland, Oregon, where he began an apprenticeship making straight shooter pipes on a lathe in exchange for lessons in benchwork. Now, from his 1000-foot cabin studio in the woods north of Portland, the artist has assembled a team of four artists to create production work in scientific glass as a steady income stream that allows them to work on mind-blowing art pipes.
A self-proclaimed dreamer, McDougall’s solo work includes a 4-foot-tall glycerin tube with a castle in the base, a castle ash catcher, a built-in glass torch based on a castle with a fire-breathing dragon, and a full-sized dragon dropped inside a tube with a glycerin coil on top. The artist has also been collaborating with Robert Mickelsen on the The Art of War series, which included the life-size megawork, Shogun. One final piece in the series will be made some time this year.
On 4/20, Ruckus Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will host the first solo exhibition of Subliminal Glass. “This show is monumental for us because it allows us to display our work and everything we can do in one place.” The solo exhibition will feature beakers, sculptural works, and guns with the goal of displaying the diverse skills set of Subliminal’s artists. McDougall will also be exhibiting new collabs made with his functional glass heroes.
On May 28, McDougall and team will teach a group class on the collaborative process at Level 42 Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina.
Please check the Ruckus and Level 42 Instagram accounts for updates and possible changes due to the Corona Virus pandemic.