The Glass Art Society (GAS), Inc. is an international organization whose mission is to encourage excellence, to advance education, to promote the development and appreciation of the glass arts, and to support the worldwide community of artists who work with glass. Since 1971, GAS has been using the joy of glass to connect, inspire, and empower all facets of the global glass community.
From the early days of the American Studio Glass movement to the upcoming United Nations’ International Year of Glass, GAS continues to foster connections that last a lifetime. This year’s gathering – held in Tacoma, Washington, from May 18 – 21 – celebrates 50 years of Glass Art Society. With the theme Between Here and There, this milestone conference will explore the past five decades of glass and what the next five decades will hold for making, collecting, and educating.
GAS Executive Director, Brandi Clark, says: “This will be one of the most exciting GAS conferences yet. GAS will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary, it is the United Nations’ International Year of Glass, and we will be able to gather together again after three long years! While celebrating the history of GAS, we will also be highlighting the reach and diversity that is the future of the glass community. Our Saxe Emerging Artists are a great reflection of that.”
The Glass Art Society is pleased to announce the 2022 Saxe Emerging Artist Award recipients: Fumi Amano, Krista Israel, and Madeline Rile Smith. Each winner will receive the opportunity to present at the 2022 Annual GAS Conference, placement in a digital artist exhibition, an honorarium to support their artistic endeavors, and more. Through a competitive jurying process, GAS recognizes emerging artists every year based on their promising talent with glass. Applicants—nominated by peers, academics, and curators—are evaluated by a professional panel of jurors.
All interdisciplinary artists, each of the three winners use their work to explore the similarities between the unique properties of glass and their own minds and bodies. Joining me on this episode of Talking Out Your Glass podcast, Smith uses glass as a “performative vehicle to consider notions of intimacy and embodiment,” exploring the parallels between the human body and the medium of glass.
Informed by her background in music, Smith creates objects that explore connection and isolation. Her work has been exhibited in venues throughout the US and internationally, and has been featured in New Glass Review 41 and 35. She currently teaches glass art as an adjunct professor at Rochester Institute of Technology and has instructed glass working in schools and institutions throughout the East Coast, including UrbanGlass, Salem Community College, and the Crefeld School.
States Smith: “Informed by my experience with chronic pain, my work explores degrees of ability and compromise of the human body. Pain has caused periods of isolation in my life, and as a result I have a strong impulse to connect with others. I utilize glass as a performative vehicle to explore interaction between people. Through objects and performance, I examine the pleasure, intimacy and discomfort that accompany the interpersonal experiences we all seek.”
This episode also features a conversation Natali Rodrigues, former GAS Board President, this year’s GAS Lifetime Membership award winner, and Associate Professor in the Glass Program at the Alberta University of the Arts in Canada. Rodrigues discusses the upcoming GAS conference, the organization’s new mission, vision, values and strategic plan, and how those are being implemented to create a more inclusive organization and glass community. “The more work GAS does to be an international organization, the more ways it finds to bring together the glass community across borders,” Rodrigues says.
And you’ll hear from one of GAS’ founders, Fritz Dreisbach. Equal parts artist, scientist, and historian, Dreisbach has spent the last five decades teaching and demonstrating glassblowing around the world. This “Johnny Appleseed of Glass” has himself played a vital role in the history of the American Studio Glass movement that he now strives to preserve and share with the next generation. In the process of inspiring others to try glass, Dreisbach began studying and reinventing historic shapes in glass with his personal brand of irony, humor, and fun. Children’s toys and games, funk ceramics, and 1960s comics all inspired Dreisbach’s early artwork. Above all, he endeavored to capture the fluid nature of the hot glass used to create his work.
Having studied painting at the University of Iowa, earning his master of arts degree, Dreisbach planned to eventually teach college level art, thus his advisor instructed him to study a wide variety of mediums. A two-credit, experimental course in glassblowing was part of the curriculum. Serendipitously, his love affair with glass began the summer of 1964, only two years after the seminal ’62 Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) workshops. During this time, Dreisbach first met and was inspired by three pioneers of Studio Glass—Harvey Littleton, Dominick Labino, and Erwin Eisch.
Dreisbach has led hundreds of workshops and lectures about glass in over 185 institutions worldwide. Traversing the country, teaching and spreading the gospel, earned him the moniker, “The Johnny Appleseed of Glass.” Dreisbach designed and built many hot shops in the 1960s and 1970s, including Pilchuck Glass School. After his short visit in 1971, the artist began teaching and advising the school for over four decades and has served as an artist trustee since 1993. He helped found and direct the Glass Art Society, which presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
Enjoy this multi-faceted conversation about GAS – past, present and future.