WGS Featured Artist: Erwin Timmers

CLICK IT! Featured Artist: Erwin Timmers

Erwin Timmers is the co-founder of the Washington Glass Studio and Washington Glass School. Originally from Amsterdam, he moved to California and graduated from Santa Monica College for Design Arts and Architecture. In 1999 he moved to the Washington DC area and since then his sculptural artwork has been on display in Zenith Gallery, Fraser Gallery, and Gallery Neptune. Erwin was named the Montgomery County, MD Executive’s Award Outstanding Artist of the Year in 2018.

His approach to art is multifaceted, incorporating metalwork, innovative lighting and glass design. He teaches glass, lighting, sculpture, and metal work. Industrial salvage and recycling are recurring themes in his work, which he sees as crucial parts to the interaction with one’s surroundings. Recently, the Artisan 4100 - an apartment community opening along Route 1 in Brentwood, MD – commissioned Erwin Timmers to create a major glass and light installation for the new building lobby.

Artist Erwin Timmers installs Artisan 4100 Building artwork commission.

Artist Erwin Timmers installs Artisan 4100 Building artwork commission.

Washington Glass School blog catches up with Erwin as his work is part of the WGS Contemporary online exhibit “CLICK-IT!”.

Washington Glass School (WGS): Describe your artwork method/process.
Erwin Timmers: I cast objects in recycled glass. For this series I have used discarded packaging material, from which I take molds in plaster. The glass then heats up in an electric kiln, melts and takes on the shape of this mold. To finish I chop, and trim the glass and weld the metal frame.

Erwin Timmers, "Patterns of Containment V" cast recycled glass

Erwin Timmers, “Patterns of Containment V” cast recycled glass

WGS: Describe your work in the show and highlight aspects that the viewers should understand about the work.

Erwin Timmers: The work features single-use plastic wrappings that viewers may recognize. The grid format formalizes the display of “trash” as art and then I use grids within each frame as well. I hope to give viewers a moment of pause while contemplating the shapes and patterns.

Erwin Timmer: detail "Patterns of Containment"

Erwin Timmer: detail “Patterns of Containment”

WGS: How have you handled the Covid lockdown?

Erwin Timmers: Initially COVID was like snow days we hadn’t had, but with great weather. That was before any financial pressure came into play. It was motivating to see the air pollution worldwide go down, I wish it could stay like that. But at the same time the single use plastic pollution is increasing, giving me even more art base materials…

WGS: What artwork/event has moved you and got you thinking about your own work?
Erwin Timmers: The current civil crisis has been deeply moving. It caused me to rethink and redevelop the direction of my hands symbol series.

WGS: if you were not an artist – what would you be?
Erwin Timmers: Epidemiologist 

Erwin Timmers suits up in his PPE gear to work in the studio.

Erwin Timmers suits up in his PPE gear to work in the studio. Or tend the studio bee-hives.

WGS: Do you do a lot of planning in your work – or is there an element of chance while working?
Erwin Timmers: I plan the general idea, but often new ideas and aspects emerge as I work. I try to incorporate these, and I can then evaluate whether they work or not.

WGS: What is your rule of thumb in determining when a work is finished?
Erwin Timmers: When I sign it, it is done…

Click here to jump to Erwin Timmers work in CLICK-IT!
Erwin’s work is part of the companion exhibit/fundraiser – “Artists for Racial Justice” Click HERE to jump to the show.

CLICK-IT Exhibition Opens June 16th @ WGS Contemporary

WGS Contemporary hosts CLICK-IT and Artists for Racial Justice

WGS Contemporary hosts CLICK-IT! and Artists for Racial Justice

With much of the physical art world closing because of Covid-19, artists, galleries and museums have turned to technology and social media to stay open (albeit virtually), allowing visitors from anywhere in the world to interact with and view art.

WGS Contemporary Gallery (located in the DMV’s Gateway Arts District) had to get creative with how to bring art to the world. With so much changing so quickly, artists and arts organizations are still in the process of finding their footing. “With everyone in isolation, art is needed now more than ever to help remind people that we are not alone. Art helps us to dream, escape our current realities, and engage our imaginations in building a better world for tomorrow,” said Gallery Director Teri Bailey. “With this show, we all stand united (six feet apart, of course) and ready to take on these challenges and the new opportunities they present.” 

"Spilt Perfume Set", Artist:  Carmen Lozar

“Spilt Perfume Set”, Artist: Carmen Lozar

"Sea Through The Looking Glass" Artists: Jennifer Caldwell and Jason Chakravarty

“Sea Through The Looking Glass”, Artists: Jennifer Caldwell and Jason Chakravarty

Opening June 16th, WGS Contemporary presents “Click-It!” featuring works by some of the most exciting and inspiring artists, with a broad spectrum of works that showcase the current trends in art and the media specific works.

"Patterns of Containment", Artist: Erwin Timmers

“Patterns of Containment”, Artist: Erwin Timmers

Artists in the show include:

Teri Bailey
F. Lennox Campello
Jennifer Caldwell
Jason Chakravarty
Cheryl P. Derricotte
Sean Donlon
Sean Hennessey
Joseph Ivacic
Michael Janis
Carmen Lozar
Tim Tate
Erwin Timmers
Steve Wanna
Jeff Zimmer

“By placing artworks of different materials, mediums, and styles in direct conversation, there is opportunity for new dialogues and perspectives,” adds Bailey. Click-It! will highlight the many parallel and interesting artistic directions these artists bring creating a dynamic environment of exchange online.
“We will be using our online platforms to introduce exciting new art programming that aims to enrich, entertain and inspire during this challenging time.”
A special fundraising event “Artists for Racial Justice” is also scheduled online as a companion show, with the-proceeds for these special works to be donated to the non-profit organizations “Color of Change ” and the “NAACP”.

"Deja Vu" Artist Sean Dolon

“DejaVu”, Artist Sean Donlon

 

WGS Contemporary is a Washington, DC area art and special projects fine arts gallery. WGS Contemporary’s mission is to contribute to thinking about art, new media, technology, and social issues through an open access forum which we hope will facilitate contemporary and innovative projects worldwide. In that process, WGSC will expose the cutting edge work of artists pushing the new media frontiers of art. Projects using robotics, sensory perception, holographic imaging, self-contained video sculptures and others will offer an intelligent and fresh set of artwork that marries technology and art into a new creative dialogue in the visual arts.

 

 

 

 

 
Want more than just visual …stimulation? click on link below and get the official “Click It” themesong – music by Donovan Lessard.

Glass 48 Opens May 8!

Glass 48 opens Friday May 8 @ 1:00 pm ( Eastern time).

Glass 48 opens Friday May 8 @ 1:00 pm ( Eastern time).

The pandemic has changed many planned arts events across the world. Habatat Galleries has adapted their planned Glass48 International event to an online presentation so the exhibition can be viewed from anywhere. This monumental experience will allow all visitors to view presentation from anywhere in the world. This experience includes personalized videos of each artists work and will also feature studio tours.

WGS Artists Tim Tate and Michael Janis are featured in the International exhibit – and they each have video presentations of their individual work and of their collaborative work.

Mary Van Cline’s Documenta Project Presents: EXPOSED!

Mary Van Cline’s “Documenta Project,” is an ongoing photographic quest to capture the images (and personalities) of the unique community of artists, dealers, and collectors who coalesced around glass as an art medium. As the Documenta Project celebrates 3 years of photographing the community of the global Studio Glass Movement, it has become an important historical archive of Portraits documenting artists, collectors, gallery owners and curators.

This year, at the arts extravaganza that is SOFA Expo – Mary will present a lecture and event, titled: Exposed!

Lecture at SOFA Chicago 2019 Friday, November 1st, 2019; 3-4pm (right after AACG sponsored lecture)

Janusz Walentynowicz

Janusz Walentynowicz

Come see the “out takes” and behind the scenes action of the Photo Shoots that help make the Portraits so engaging, and enjoy an informal visual historical narrative. After all, LAUGHING MATTERS!

aaron.schey.corey.hampson.glass.art.habatatSOFA Chicago

Festival Hall, Navy Pier
600 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Opening Night Preview
Thursday, October 31, 2019
VIP Preview  |  5 – 9 pm
Public Preview | 7 – 9 pm

Stars & Stripes Let Freedom Ring!

Take time on this special day to understand what independence means to you. Happy July 4th! 

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.  -Abraham Lincoln

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.
-Abraham Lincoln

Let each one of us make a promise, that as long as we live, we will be good citizens of our country in the best of our capabilities and we will help America grow into a better nation with each passing day.

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. – Benjamin Franklin

Some Like It Hot @ Pittsburgh’s Morgan Contemporary Gallery

 

“Luminescence” and “Stillness” by Michael Janis on exhibit at Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery

“Luminescence” and “Stillness” by Michael Janis on exhibit at Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery

 Some Like It Hot! shows hot-sculpting, cold-working, and everything in-between, tying together a showcase reminiscent of the oncoming summer, featuring 10 skilled artists: Jen Blazina, Sarah Gilbert, Scott Goss, Jaime Guerrero, Joe Ivacic, Michael Janis, Brent Marshall, Doug Randall, Mare Saare and Rob Stern. Opening reception 5:30- 8:30 p.m. June 8. 

morgan contemporary glass gallery

5833 Ellsworth Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Laurel Library’s Grand Opening Features Public Art Sculpture by Washington Glass Studio

玻璃艺术雕塑

Washington Glass Studio sculpture at the new Laurel Library. Photo by Pete Duvall.

The Washington Glass Studio (WGS) has recently completed installation of a community based site specific public art commission for Prince George’s County Laurel Library. The new building was designed by Grimm + Parker Architects, with the grand opening of the new library scheduled for November 28, 2016. Features of the spectacular new library include an inset floor area in the children’s section where kids will get to peer at a replica velociraptor skeleton through the glass floor. Just a few miles away from the library site is Dinosaur Park, where scientists work to excavate fossils from the early Cretaceous period. Dinosaur imagery was also included as a theme running through the glass artwork panels.

WGS design proposal sketch

WGS design proposal sketch.

WGS was awarded the commission to make the outdoor sculpture at the front of the new library by Maryland’s Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC). The Art in Public Places Program RFQ sought out artwork that would provide world class artwork for Prince George’’s County residents and visitors. 

WGS proposal for the project was a 17′H internally illuminated glass and steel sculpture that incorporates glass panels made by the community,residents and stakeholders of the Laurel, MD community. The engineering of the steel framework involved detailed analysis of the structure and its components. WGS worked with structural engineer Holbert Apple to ensure the integrity of the design.

Detailed analysis of sculpture was part of the design development process.

Detailed analysis of sculpture was part of the design development process.

Over 100 glass inset panels were made during the series of workshops held at the Washington Glass School. The Baltimore Sun newspaper featured a story by reporter Lisa Philip about the process. 

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer.

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer. Photo by Lisa Philip/Baltimore Sun

 

 

The artwork’s title “Involve Me and I Learn”  is based on a phrase attributed to US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (who also opened the first US public library). The name references the engagement of the community. The neighborhood and the Laurel Library supporters had joined in making the individual glass panels in workshops at the Washington Glass School.Laurel_Library.artists.washington_glass_school.studio.sculpture.public_art.project.american.great.commission.site_specific.fused.jpg

The resulting variations in each tile’s imagery and technique embody the artist’s concept in bringing the people from the diverse community together to create a cohesive and vibrant sculpture. 

 

 

The artwork inset kiln-formed glass panels express the personality and the  individuality of everyone involved in the project.

The artwork’s internally illuminated kiln-formed glass panels express the personality and the individuality of everyone involved in the project. Photo by Pete Duvall

Project  Information

Artist: Washington Glass Studio 

Design Team: Laurie Brown, Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson. With Josh Hershman and Pierre Browning.

Structural Engineer : Holbert Apple Assoc Inc 

玻璃艺术雕塑 WGS_Laurel Library.MD.aipp.washington_glass_studio.public_art.sculpture.site.specific.sustainable.design.usa.jpg

Photo by Pete Duvall

Laurel Library
507 7th Street, Laurel, MD 20707

Grand Opening / Dedication – 10:30 AM, Monday, November 28, 2016 – All are invited!

Tim Tate Talks About His Current Works

From glass and video sculptor Tim Tate:

Three Current Pieces That Discuss The Transition From Studio Glass To Glass Secessionism

I see my sculptures as self-contained installations. My current work chronicles the transition from the Era of Studio Glass to the new movement of Glass Secessionism.

Blending a traditional craft with new media technology gives me the framework in which I fit my artistic narrative; contemporary, yet with the aesthetic of Victorian techno-fetishism.

To see this chronology, I will discuss 3 of my recent artworks.


Tim Tate “Cowboy Luvin” blown and cast glass, LED lighting.

In Cowboy Luvin’ I reinterpret a millefiori lamp that belonged to my grandmother, though up date its narrative content and technology to LED’s. This was specifically made to show Secessionist roots in early glass.

Tim Tate “Smashing Blue” cast glass, video, electronics.

In the Smashing Blue piece, I use a time-based medium (video) to show a glass vase smashing, yet then reconfiguring again and again. This is intended to show that our definitions in the 20th century ebb and flow towards what is and isn’t glass based, and how we are constantly redefining the present dialog.

Tim Tate “The Next 50 Years Begins Now”, blown and cast glass, video, electronics, engraving

In The Next 50 Years Begins Now a video shows the smashing of a Chihuly-like glass piece, and then reconfiguring over and over. Inside the smaller dome are shards from the original piece. On top of that is a small man holding a large video screen, playing that video. The cast glass finial on top is a bust of Dale Chihuly. The surface of the outer dome has been etched with the history of Dale Chihuly, his importance to the Studio Glass and the artworld, and the text ends with his suing his former assistant for knocking him off.

This piece asks many questions:

Is this real?
   
> A fake?
The culmination of 30 years of work?
   
> Or just glass and 3 hours time?
The beginning of glass secessionism?
   
> Is glass secessionism the right term?
Does this mark the end of technique driven dominance?
   
> Or the beginning of ironic work?

Does breaking this piece add value to it? 
   
> Or does it destroy it?

If this was a cheap knock off, who would be wielding that hammer?
 

Does questioning authority equal disrespect?

Could this be an act of construction, not destruction…just as I intended it to be?


To me, these works are phylacteries of sorts, the transparent reliquaries in which bits of saints’ bones or hair — relics — are displayed. In many cultures and religions, relics are believed to have healing powers. My relics are temporal, sounds and moving images formally enshrined, encapsulating experiences like cultural specimens. And perhaps, to the contemporary soul, they are no less reliquaries than those containing the bones of a saint.
 
With technology rapidly changing the way we perceive art, the current day contemporary landscape closely mirrors Victorian times in the arts. We marvel at and invent bridges between past and present in an effort to define our time and make sense of this highly transitory moment in artistic history. 

Tim Tate

Glass Secessionism

Tim Tate writes about the tenets of “Glass Secessionism”. 

I write this article in an effort to change your thinking about contemporary glass art.  In the following pages, I compare and contrast the changes that 50 years of Studio Glass have produced. My beliefs come from my focus on the artist retreat models, such as Penland, Pilchuck, Corning, Haystack, Etc. This focus was a result of not being in academia. I did not have the resources that would allow me to pursue an MFA. My energies were thrust upon those institutions that catered to working artists. These art retreats were my training ground. 

The evidence supporting my claims comes mostly from my own experiences and observations as a practicing sculptural glass artist, including 10 years showing only in sculptural fine art settings and then crossing over to the glass gallery world. At this point, I straddle the line between these worlds. Half the galleries that represent my work are glass galleries, half are fineart galleries.  

 

My premise is that to succeed in glass in the 21stcentury, we have to secede from 20th Century founded Studio Glass. The Studio Glass model was firmly in place. It was time to integrate into the Fine Art World. What we needed was a bridge between these two worlds, to assist in this transition which was coming so very quickly.

“Glass Secessionism” is firmly rooted in the historical precedent of Photo Secession, and that movement provides a template for organizing our nascent movement. Like the Photo Secession, we are moving away from the technique-dominated culture of studio glass. We respect good technique, and understand its importance in creating great art from glass. However, we believe that great art should be driven primarily by artistic vision, and technique should facilitate the vision. For too long, technique has driven the majority of studio glass. As Secessionists we do not seek to isolate ourselves from other artists working in glass, but to enhance the field as a whole.

Glass Secessionism”, a Facebook page, was created to be an accessible venue for the showing, discussion and definition of secessionist works. Works that are based in mixed media and time base electronics for example. Its objective is to advance glass as applied to sculptural expression; to draw together those glass artists practicing or otherwise interested in the arts, and to discuss specific examples of the Glass-Secession or other narrative work.  

As I’ve said, this movement is modeled after Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secessionists and how they redefined photography.

Though they may seem incomparable, there are distinct similarities between Photo-secessionism and Glass Secessionism.  Both mediums emerged from the lab/factory with high technical barriers inherent in the materials. We applauded the genius required to make something from the chemistry/fire/darkrooms/furnaces/ environment, and some of the early pioneers had a vested interest in keeping secrets and making adaptation by artists difficult. Both mediums were born of science and industry, and both had similar paths of evolution as a result.

In 1902 Stieglitz announced the existence of a new organization called the Photo-Secession, a group dedicated to promoting photography as an art form. The name of the group suggested that it was designed to break away from stodgy and conventional ideas.

In many ways, I agree with Stieglitz’s deeply critical view of what he understood to be the rampant conventionality, conformity, and institutionalization of the photography field  in the early 20th century.  It was said that Steigletz wanted to secede from “artwork that had gone stale through the copying of Victorian, conventional styles, but more importantly from the dictatorship of the entrenched institutions, galleries, art schools and professional art organizations that enforced or at very least sanctioned copying or imitation.” In my perhaps isolated world this seemed to hold great similarity to what I saw happening in glass in the beginning of the 21stcentury. I saw it, but those artists still involved heavily in that aesthetic seemed not to.

 

The modern history of glass is unfolding before our eyes. Before glass became more accessible in this country, you usually had to work in a glass production factory to have contact with glass. Slowly, in the 60′s and 70′s, schools and individuals started to proliferate and glass began to emerge to a larger population to experiment with. In those early days, American glass artists seemed to have an insecurity regarding our place in the glass world, so there was a huge focus on Venetian blowing techniques. This focus was perhaps more in the artists retreats than MFA programs, which produced many exceptions. RISD seemed to lead the way in idea driven glass, but most people did not learn glass from the MFA programs. Glass Secessionism seems to be driven not just by MFA programs but from younger artists looking for a voice of their own, not connected to a distinct glass history. I believe most learned in small studios and artists retreats, just as I did. 

 

As more people got exposed to glass, things began to progress. By the 80′s and the early 90′s we not only became as good in technique as the Venetians, it seemed we frequently surpassed them. There were some amazing stand-out artists who had mastered technique, then took that technique and developed compelling narrative sculptural work. There were far more who focused on perfecting that technique in the Venetian tradition and focused primarily on vessels and the indirect narrative implied within the material. This is a viable and valuable path, if that was your interest and hot glass was readily available to you. The closest hot glass available outside of academia to me was Penland School of Crafts. Accordingly, during this same time period, schools like Pilchuck and Penland mostly focused on teaching hot glass classes and techniques, as it is much less concrete to teach ideas.
However, many began to push the reigning concepts and methods further.  In many MFA programs the insecurity of exploration was gone, replaced by a desire to take glass further—to not be the second best goblet maker, as so many had in the previous period of Venetian technical hegemony. 

 

Garth Clark at the 2008 lecture.

 

The person who made the most sense to me was Garth Clark. In his now infamous 2008 lecture at the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft, he finally voiced what I had felt for sometime: that the arts and craft movement, having reigned for 150 years, died forever in the mid 1990′s. It died of “art envy.” No one wanted to be a craftsman anymore…everyone wanted to be an artist.Add to this the fact that in the 1990′s collectors and galleries remained tied to a type, price point, and aesthetic.

Catalog of “Compelled by Content” exhibition.

 

 By 2005, there was a small but intellectually and aesthetically exciting group of artists producing narrative work, many of it showcased in a show I curated entitled, “Compelled by Content.”  This conceptually derived focus seems to be a central part of what I term “Glass Secessionism.” I define this as ideas and concepts that exist autonomously from their own materiality. There were a few magnificent examples of newer artists using narrative. (narrative artists such as Christina Bothwell, Michael Rogers, Carmen Lozar, De La Torre Brothers, Susan Taylor Glasgow, etc). These were the types of artists I looked up to. Even within artist retreat venues, these artists were a minority and rare. But at least I felt there were others like me. 

 

Glass artists began to move out of their disciplinary confines and began draw from multiple media and disciplines.  One group that also seceded was the Hyperopia Projects. They summed this movement up by writing that, “…we do not fit comfortably into glass, sculpture or new media, but draw from allof them. Our interests and practices are between disciplines and media. We seek to support a longer view of where glass is headed—where the identity of glass may be intermingled with the larger world of contemporary art.Our efforts are also a direct call to action for our peers to continue paving this path—dissolving and redrawing our boundaries along the way”. Many artists around the country were coming to this same realization. There had certainly been other attempts to find a model out of Studio Glass.

By the 21st century, warm glass and kiln forming had found its following. Formerly frequently dismissed as the art form of non-serious hobbyists, many great narrative sculptors were emerging. 

These days in MFA programs around the country, you are  unlikely to find a technique driven glass artist…..if you can even find anyone who still calls themselves a glass artist. Mixed media, conceptual and performance dominate those artists, and also dominate many private schools such as ours….and certainly other private artists as well.

The problems began when I tried to exhibit work, and it wasn’t just glass galleries.

I would knock on doors of fine art galleries and museums at the time, to show them my work. They all said similar things. The work is great, but its glass. The Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum even had a curator that had a “no glass” policy. They would continually send me back to the glass galleries, who would sayYou can have the most spectacular work of glass ever made, but if you don’t have a reputation, my collectors won’t buy it.” (an actual quote).  I was caught in a difficult place, as many 21stglass sculptors were. Fine art galleries were frequently not showing glass; and glass galleries were frequently not showing emerging glass sculptors. 

What was an artist supposed to do? When I mentioned my frustration to Paul Parkman, a noted glass enthusiast and founder of many glass organizations, he said, “Well… if they are not noticing your work, do something they can’t ignore”. This became my mantra. As Bill T Jonesonce said; “Art is what is made when you push back.” The artists who originally founded Studio Glass pushed back in their time. Now it was my turn. I believed that for glass to be taken seriously in the broader fine art world, then we had to secede. Only by seceding would we succeed. If the glass world wasn’t going to recognize us, then what choice did we have?

 

There are a number of facets of the glass world I purposefully seceded from:

 

 A technique driven glass world. A vessel-centric dialogue.

The dominance of 40 artists who began studio glass, but frequently stagnated into replication or were knocked off so frequently that it was hard to tell the knock off from the original. I was in awe of many of these magnificent artists, but also saw many great artists who received little or no recognition.

The continual tedious discussion of the faulty “art vs craft” binary. 

To yet another magazine cover of the same glass artists again and again. (not that they didn’t deserve them…I just felt that others did as well). The predictability of who I would see inside, who would curate, show, and applaud the art. To see yet another variation of a select few artists work and their view of the world.

From the way glass was discussed, thought about, collected, made, exhibited, and seen around the world.

From the absence of 21st century technologies, including  video, electronics, digital art and time based media and art forms .

 

One of the major reasons I seceded was to embrace, mentor, and nurture younger artists breaking new ground.  I understand this to be encouraging new directions of glass outside the traditional craft world.  To embrace what I saw beginning to happen with so many younger and perhaps unrecognized artists; that they were not taken as seriously as the established artists.

This has been taken as disrespect. Nothing could be further from the truth. I grew up as an artist in that glass world. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those amazing artists who founded the Studio Glass movement. We all stand upon their shoulders.

In this country, collectors seemed to drive the movement. When an artist came up with a form that some people liked, the collector consciousness wanted them. An artist was frequently in a position that if they wanted to economically succeed, he or she had to replicate a particular form with subtle variations over and over. Collectors and the institutions that controlled the studio glass movement unconsciously stifled artistic exploration and creativity while also encouraging other aspects. So different from the glass artists in other countries.

If the economics of Studio Glass had not taken over, I believe even the great founders would have experimented more themselves. Would Toots Zynsky have made variations of the same bowl form for so many decades? After seeing her RISD work from 40 years ago, I doubt it. I mean no disrespect towards Toots.  I love her work and am just using this as an example to make what I believe to be a salient point.  However, such a contention is often interpreted as disrespect.  Does daring to question the established base automatically imply disrespect? 

L-R: Toots Zynsky, 1990; Toots Zynsky 2010

 

It should be kept remembered that the founders of studio were certainly secessionists in their own times and in their own right.

 

Does this mean that we no longer value Studio Glass or Post Studio Glass (work that builds on the techniques and aesthetics of 20thcentury vessels)? Not at all. There will always be a place for these wondrous objects and their makers. I am suggesting that they will not figure as prominently in the 21st century as in the 20th century. I know this makes people very angry. That is certainly not my intent.  I am merely trying to map the landscape of shifts that characterize the contemporary post-modern glass world.  As more shifts occur, the less likely it will be that our current Studio Glass and Post-Studio Glass frames of reference will maintain the authority they still have in the current period. 

 

By the 2000’s the preponderance of work within those venues shifted, until there was now much more secessionist type work than vessel-related or technique-driven work.  This shift was perhaps led by the MFA programs, but embraced by younger artists in every setting.  There you would be hard pressed to find anyone working in vessel forms or willing to call themselves a glass artist. Perhaps this new type of self-identity was the cause. A new identity began to appear—or rather, the old identity of “glass artist”  began to erode.  The new identity took on an anti-identity facet—it refused to be pinned down by schools or mediums or forms.  I believe this is a part of the secessionist movement.

So, 

What are the boundaries of Glass Secessionism?

·        It is not studio glass, though there were many roots and seeds of this movement found in studio glass.

·        Glass tends to be only one component in a mixed media sculpture.

·        It is not in the form of a vessel.

·        Time-based media involving glass will become more and more important as technology continues to progress. Time based media such as sound, video, performance. As electronics improve and become readily available, including software development, this glass art form will flourish.

·        Large-scale conceptual installations.  These conceptual installations will also gain prominence in the museum world. The production of space—rather than the mere filling of it or accommodation to it—is a distinctive conceptual shift from the Glass Studio period.

·        It tends to start with an idea or concept rather than perfecting or exploring a technique.

·        Is not in the form of abstract expressionism.

·        Glass Secessionism reconfigures performance.

Performance art in the Studio Glass era was about the drama of the artist making work in the studio. Performance art in the  Secessionist era usually starts with an idea other than the making of an object. This will be one of the fastest growing areas of Glass Ssecessionism; mostly due to fact that advances in video technology and social media allows for almost instant records of performance to be shared, distributed and discussed. 

·       Glass Secessionism takes place within, and often actively supports, the increasing erosion of the ownership of art, according to William Warmus on this topic. Objects were made to be exhibited and collected in the studio glass era. In the Secessionist era, while there will still be a love of well made objects, some objects will be considered the property of the collective culture. They will be reproduced digitally, shared, float around, come together as an exhibition or collection, split apart. This will challenge the artist as to how to make a living, and museums will have to reconsider the idea of ownership. This is not just in the glass world, but in the art world as a whole. This will be particularly true of performance.

·        Architecture is increasingly an important component of secessionism.  However, the technical expertise and expert knowledge it requires will make collecting it, or even talking about it, will remain problematic and awkward. For example, most people do not know how to read floor plans.  In this way, secessionism has an internal contradiction: while it becomes increasingly accessible in many other ways, it also assumes sculptural and architectural elements which require certain types of technical knowledge and skill. Another point made by William Warmus.

·        It tends to include a focus on narrative.  I define narrative as ideas and concepts that exist autonomously from their own materiality.

Where are we going? Let me suggest museum and gallery shows that would fit squarely into the 21stCentury and embrace the aesthetics of Glass Secessionism.

Museum shows :

Figurative Glass Dialogs in the 21st Century:

Sybylle Perretti

Judith Schaechter

Daniel Arsham

Angela Palmer

Also,

Embracing Glass and New Media:

Tony Oursler

Wang Yuyang

Clark DeCapite Jr.

Gabe Barcia-Colombo

Wayne Garrett

Antony Gormley

In the next few years, a Secessionist gallery will emerge. Who will they carry? I am suggesting this stable of artists:

Mark Zirpel

Christina Bothwell

Michael Rogers

Rik Allen

Susan Taylor Glasgow

Michael Janis

Oben Albright

Ivan Puig

Jeff Ballard

Jeffrey Sarmiento

Carmen Lozar

Jeremy Lepisto

Charlotte Potter

Kohei Nawa

Andy Paiko

Micah Evans

Seth Fairweather

Christopher McElroy

Susan Silver Brown

Joshua Hershman

Jeff Zimmer

Jason Chakravarty

Right now secessionist sculptors are spread over many venues, galleries and fairs. So collectors seeking this type of work are just as scattered. When a gallery of this type opens, it will crystallize this collector base as well.  The gallery will become known for secessionist work and will be ground zero for collectors to check first.  Museums will begin having secession shows. Glass will also slowly be absorbed into the fine art fairs such as the Art Basel Miami sub fairs such as Art Miami and Miami Projects. The names above will be the stars of such a movement. There are so many others ….please forgive me if I had not gotten to you. I would love to hear of other examples of Secessionist shows.

With all of these thoughts in my head, I founded the Washington Glass School in 2001. The school is firmly based in the tenets of Glass Secessionism. One of the reasons so many glass artists who have graduated from this school feel that they have seceded from nothing is because I founded that school.  They did not have to secede from anything because I already had. I presented the school, classes and students to the way that I saw the glass world. They frequently knew no other way. 

 

Today very few folks will stand up as self-described secessionists, partly because we are still involved in the glass world.  At a deeper level, this dis-identification from any established identity is, in itself, a facet of secessionism.  For me, while I certainly seceded in the 90′s to show only in fine art galleries, I was called back to the glass world in the 2000’s. I did not expect this to happen.  A widely respected curator told a group of collectors that I represented the “future” of glass resulting in a prominent glass gallery owner asking to carry my work. I was completely star struck, having grown up in the glass world. To be a true secessionist I would have said “no” to both parties and stayed in my fine art world. However, I had become well placed to make the decision to become the “missing link”—to bridge both worlds simultaneously. I have done that ever since. 

Two significant factors in this decision were economics and ego, I freely admit.  Nonetheless, my work always differed from what I perceived as the dominance of technique-driven work. These were my perceptions, based on years of my own experiences. But what else can an artist react to? I would have been a much “purer” secessionist if I also rejected the glass gallery system as well. I did not. I was still in awe of it, as I am to this day. My rebellion came in the form of what I was making and working on and a conscious distancing away from the vessels that even I had made in the past.

Much of this paper was derived from comments made on the Glass Secessionism Facebook page – in particular from quotes or comments made by William Warmus, Patrick Blythe and Jennifer Scanlan.

 

Glass Secessionism does not mark the death of Studio Glass. It makes it stronger.  It enhances it as it takes prominence. It gives credit to those who went before.  Honoring the early founders and utilizing all that was learned from that is still the foundation of this movement. But honoring does not excuse an art form from getting hackneyed and complacent. The solution was to secede from just those forms that had become stale by repetition; that is the part of Studio Glass we are pulling away from. In many ways, Glass Secessionism is putting glass back on the path it should have followed. It encourages those areas of glass that had progressed over time and build heavily upon them. It reveres those artists who advance the medium, taking chances with new directions. In other words, we are not destroying the past, we are constructing a future.

 

Tim Tate

US/UK Collaborative Art Precedents : Glass 3 and Artomatic

As the arrangements for the UK artists are being finalized, the Washington Glass School blog takes a look back to the first two collaborative exhibitions and their outcome.

GLASS 3__________________________
In 2008, Artomatic organized an exhibit that showcased glass art, focusing on how three “glass” cities approach the medium. The collaborative show was titled “Glass 3″ referencing the invited glass centers of Washington, DC, Toledo, Ohio and Sunderland, England. 

  • Sunderland is home to the UK’s National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland. The North East of England has a long tradition of glassmaking – since the 7th century as glassmakers from France were brought in to make the stained glass windows. The numerous glass factories of the 17th and 18th century have now closed, and in its place a number of studio glass artists working in smaller studios. 
  • Toledo, Ohio is known as “Glass City” – where in 1962, Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino presented the seminal glass workshop with the Toledo Museum of Art. This workshop profoundly influenced the American Studio Glass Movement. 
  • Washington, DC glass artists work at using glass as an expressive component in a larger whole, mastering technique in order to express content. The “post-craft” artists strive to make works that transcend words and discrete disciplines – therein lies their beauty.
Design of the Glass 3 exhibit graphics and catalog by Jon Gann.

Artomatic had secured an exhibition space in the Georgetown Mall, and in February, artwork and artists from the UK and Ohio came into DC setting up the multi-level space. 

2008 “Glass 3″ Exhibit. Photo by Tracy Lee.
2008 “Glass 3″ Exhibit. Photo by Tracy Lee.
Artist Vanessa Cutler (R) talks about the UK artwork with Sunderland City Council’s Anne Tye (C) and DCist’s Heather Goss (L) on opening night.

DCist city blog writer Heather Goss wrote of the 2008 collaborative show “Glass 3″:
“But does all of this lovey-dovey, hands-around-the-world stuff translate into a good art show? In this case, definitely. Glass work has always faced a tough challenge being accepted as “fine art” and not “a bunch of bowls and vases you find at the craft fair.” And if anyone can make you change your mind, its the artists from Sunderland. Some of the artists are actually experts in glass theory with Ph.Ds and have developed techniques that not only create beautiful art, but have revolutionized architecture and other uses for the medium.”
Click HERE to jump to full DCist article.

A catalog of the works in the show was published, a copy is in the Corning Museum of Glass’ Rakow Library.

Click HERE to jump to the Glass 3 catalog pdf.
The Brits returned charged up with the success of the interaction with the Americans, and based on the Washington Glass School model, created a not-for-profit artist run studio facility in Sunderland; Creative Cohesion. The new organization is home to professional artists working in glass, ceramics, fine art and mixed media, with a gallery, arts workshops and a glass hot-shop.

UK’s Stephen Reveley’s fused glass forms at 2009 Artomatic.

Artomatic 2009__________________________ 
In 2009, Artomatic held the 10th anniversary of its unjuried art fair in DC’s Southeast, near the Navy Yard. 38 artists from the UK were able to participate in the event via Creative Cohesion joining with Artomatic in the planning of the exchange.  A number of the visiting artists were part of the University of Sunderland and the UK’s National Glass Centre and held workshops where they demonstrated their techniques.

UK glass casting workshop by Stephen Beardsell held at Washington Glass School, May 2009.
Sarah Blood’s neon artwork at Artomatic.

The Artomatic was a great success, and the visiting artists were able to connect to the US artscene. Glass artist Phil Vickery’s artwork was selected by the James Renwick Alliance to receive their Craft Award of Distinction.

Award winning glass by Phil Vickery.
2009 UK / US Artomatic artist reception

The connection between the sister city artists had been strengthened, andProfessor Peter Fidler, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland was impressed with the artists at Washington Glass School, and sought out ways to continue the interaction.

Later, after Tim Tate and Michael Janis were successful Fulbright Scholar candidates, the connection to the University of Sunderland continued; in 2012, they both were Fulbright Scholars at the University and held workshops at Creative Cohesion. 

The Brits are back this year, and the exhibit has broadened to include ceramic artwork.To complement the artwork, International Glass and Clay 2013 will host panels at Pepco Edison Place Gallery all month long meant to inspire in depth conversation about cultural diplomacy, Fulbright exchanges and international artists residencies and the arts. The events will include representatives from cultural institutions in the nation’s capital, including embassies, government entities, think tanks and local arts organizations.

“This year, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities launched a program encouraging District artists and arts organizations to develop cultural partnerships with our sister cities, which we are proud to implement,” said Lionell Thomas, Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. “International Glass and Clay 2013 is an excellent example of how cities with differing cultures can approach diplomacy through their respective creative heritage.”

International Glass and Clay2013 will open from Friday, March 1 to Friday, March 22. It is free for the public to attend. At Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth Street (between G and H Street). Gallery hours are 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and 12 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The gallery is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The Gallery Place Metro station servicing the green, red and yellow lines is within close walking distance to the gallery.