It’s not uncommon to read comparisons between Albert Einstein and Paul Marioni, artist and one of the founders of the Studio Glass movement, many based on their shared lifelong fascination with light. Known as an innovator in the glass world, Marioni has been pushing the limits of his medium for five decades, redefining what is possible not only in process but content. He says: “I work with glass for its distinct ability to capture and manipulate light. While my techniques are often inventive, they are only in service of the image.”
A surrealist whose work addresses issues of nature, identity, and emotion, Marioni relies upon dreams as well as political and social convictions to make statements, causing us to forget the unfair advantage that working with glass affords. Using material that is inherently beautiful, the artist inspires people to think rather than telling them what to think. Marioni’s work can be found in collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York.
Marioni, who graduated in 1967 from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a Fellow of the American Crafts Council and Glass Art Society Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. He has received three fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and has taught at schools worldwide including the Penland School of Crafts, Bakersville, North Carolina; Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington; the Glass Furnace, Istanbul, Turkey; and more recently at Soneva Art and Glass in the Maldives.
At 77, Marioni remains passionate about the “road show,” a grassroots effort started by artists like himself, Fritz Dreisbach, Dale Chihuly, and Richard Marquis, to spread knowledge and enthusiasm about glass to anyone who showed interest. “I’ve worked in glass all but three years of my life. What was I thinking to get into a field with no history, no books, no teaching? Obviously I wasn’t thinking. But we built the Studio Glass movement on cooperation, not competition, because there was no past. There was nothing for us to get. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be done.”
In addition to gallery work, Marioni has produced over 100 public and private commissions in both cast glass and terrazzo. From his studio in Mexico, the artist currently works on the biggest commission of his career for the $52 million Bellevue, Washington, light rail station. Its train serves business powerhouses of the Pacific Northwest including Microsoft and Boeing. Selected as lead artist for the project through a national competition, Marioni is designing 3000+ square feet of art glass for the platforms as well as the terrazzo floors.