Receive This Glass
"Receive this glass
it holds my memories
to be pollinated
by your sight
your touch through time."
- Paul J. Stankard
There are few works of art in any medium that are so beautiful, so transcendent that the viewer is transported inside the piece and into the soul of its creator. Such is the case with the paperweights and botanicals created by internationally acclaimed artist and pioneer in the studio glass movement, Paul Stankard. By blending mysticism with magical realism, his work references the continuum of nature and allows us to celebrate on an intimate level her primal beauty.
Considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, Stankard’s work is represented in more than 75 museums around the world. Over his 40-year artistic journey, he has received two honorary doctorate degrees, an honorary associate's degree, and many awards within the glass community, most recently the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian's The James Renwick Alliance and the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the UrbanGlass Award—Innovation in a Glassworking Technique.
In 1961, Stankard enrolled in Salem County Vocational Technical Institute’s Scientific Glassblowing program (now Salem Community College). During his subsequent 10-year scientific glassblowing career, fabricating complex instruments was his focus. As head of the glass department at Rohn & Haas in Philadelphia, the artist began experimenting with floral paperweights as a hobby. The work was eventually noticed by art dealer Reese Palley at a craft expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in 1972, Stankard abandoned industry for art.
Stankard says: “Every artist’s transition from detail to delicacy will follow a different path. In my case, my techniques evolved from working as a scientific glassblowing technologist producing custom precision instruments used for medical and organic chemistry research. This gave me a platform from which to interpret nature in a personal way. From the get-go, I was able to employ a detail-oriented precision that was borrowed from my work in industry.”
He continues: “Art-making is as varied as there are artists working. You take advantage of the skill-set you know, and you make it personal. You go beyond the practical, and you go beyond making product. You learn from your process and build on your personal vocabulary, fusing your detail into the realm of delicacy.”
Stankard’s role as educator includes establishing the flameworking studio at Penland School of Craft, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and serving as a founding board member and President of The Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, New Jersey. The artist taught students in the US at Penland; the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington; and abroad at Kanaz Forest of Creation Japan with Hiroshi Yamano as well as at North Lands Creative, in the Scottish Highlands. He remains an Artist-in-Residence and Honorary Professor at Salem Community College, where he founded the International Flameworking Conference.
Now dividing his time between flameworking and writing, Stankard is the author of three books; an autobiography No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass, an educational resource Spark the Creative Flame: Making the Journey from Craft to Art; and most recently Studio Craft as Career: A Guide to Achieving Excellence in Art-making. His love of Walt Whitman poetry continues.
Stankard’s work will be exhibited at Habatat Prime Chicago, a pop-up gallery located three miles from Navy Pier, as part of Sofa Chicago, October 31 through November 3. The 7,500-square-foot space offers an incredible collection of the finest in contemporary glass, including Stankard’s newest work. For more information, visit www.habatat.com. Also, the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts in Dania Beach, South Florida, will exhibit the Wiener collection of Stankard’s work in its The Art of the Flame exhibition. The exhibition preview weekend will be held November 9 and 10, and the show will run through April 30, 2020. Learn more at wmoda.com.