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, and Professor 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.

In Memoriam: UK Glass Artist Charles Bray (1922 – 2012)

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Charles Bray at the unveiling of his glass and slate sculpture work at Lancaster University, 2009.

It is with great sadness that we learned that UK glass artist Charles Bray passed away suddenly, but peacefully, Sunday afternoon. Charles was the instigator of the Glass & Ceramics course at Sunderland University and supportive founder member of Cohesion Glass network, as well as being a member of the Society of Glass Technologists. In 1976, he attended the Hot Glass Conference at the Royal College of Art which proved a major watershed in the development of Studio Glass in England

Charles also authored glass 
art & technology reference books.

Subsequently, he was instrumental in setting up British Artists in Glass (now the Contemporary Glass Society) to promote and support the work of glass artists in the UK


Charles’ glass sculptures were featured in the Glass 3 exhibit that featured glass artwork by Sunderland, Washington, DC and Toldedo artists held in Georgetownin 2008.  

Charles Bray’s glass & stone works were strongly represented in the historic 2008 US/UK joint glass show “Glass 3″.

Sunderland, England Visits Washington, DC

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clockwise from left: Novie Trump, Tim Tate, George Koch, Oliver “Skip” Dulle, Tom Hurst, Catherine Auld and Erwin Timmers talk about the prospects for an international exhibition of glass and clay. 

Based on the aftermath of Tim Tate & Michael Janis’ successful Fulbright Scholarship assignment to the University of Sunderland, representatives from DC’s sister city (which is Sunderland, England) popped in for proverbial “spot of tea and a bit of a chat” – re: the possibility of another international glass exhibition to be held in DC in Spring 2013. (One may remember the fabulous Glass 3 exhibit hosted by Artomatic in 2008.)  

George Koch, founder and board member of DC’s Cultural Development Corporation, chats with WGS’ Tim Tate 

This time the arts organization is proposing to expand the format to include ceramics and possibly another international partner; all together exhibiting at a downtown DC gallery space. Discussions included international workshops, marketplace events and how cultural tourism could be integrated. The representatives from the UK met at the Washington Glass School and at Flux Studios.

Artist Novie Trump explains the process of a commissioned ceramic installation to the Sunderland delegation.
Dr David Smith, Chief Executive, Sunderland City Council and DC Mayor Vincent Gray sign the Sunderland, UK / Washington, DC Sister City Agreement, February 22, 2012, 

We don’t want to jinx the procedures and process at this early stage, but we are excited at the prospect of such an event! 

Fulbright Scholars Janis & Tate Final Report

>Final Report by Michael Janis and Tim Tate regarding their Fulbright Specialist Program at the University Of Sunderland and the National Glass Center.

The bonds that were forged years ago when The City of Washington & Washington Glass School hosted the UK artists from Cohesion Glass Network art Artomatic’s Glass 3 event in Georgetown have been strengthened. Our connection with Washington, DC’s UK Sister City, Sunderland, the National Glass Center and the University of Sunderland; will continue throughout our careers. While our mission as Fulbright Scholars was to impart information, we leave having learned many lessons.

Our time in England began with presentations of our artwork and discussions of on new directions the glass world was embracing, such as Glass Secessionism, where artists are looking to move from the aesthetic of pure technique, materials and process and are advancing glass as a medium of sculptural expression in the narrative realm. The participants in the audiences came from the student body of the University as well as working artists from Sunderland, Newcastle, even as far away as Edinburgh, Scotland. The audience stayed long after the talk, and topics from the discussion continued to come up during our entire Fulbright program stay (and indeed, afterwards via the internet) showing the strong relevance of the concepts.

We created workshops for both the National Glass Center and Sunderland’s Creative Cohesion studio; the city’s artist incubator (that, in fact, used the Washington Glass School as its educational and business model). The City of Sunderland invited us to speak with students at a local secondary school during our stay, where we talked about careers in art. We also worked with the Leaders of the University’s Glass and Ceramics program and outlined methods we could extend the cooperative agreement that exists between Sunderland and Washington, DC.

The British tertiary arts education system is different from the US university model. Their MA program blends an MFA and BFA into a very concentrated program. The amount of expertise, materials and techniques they make available to students seems staggering. Sunderland’s may be the finest glass program in the world. With the National Glass Center, the physical space alone dwarfs any facility in the US (or even if one combined the arts centers of Pilchuck, Penland, Corning into one place). The University of Sunderland also offer a doctorate in glass, which is similar to an MFA, though the focus is research, as this is one of the primary methods for the University to receive funds. At the end of a student’s time at Sunderland University, they have a much broader base of knowledge regarding glass and its parameters. In many ways the educational system in the UK is ahead of the US, especially in how they treat glass sculpturally.

Our talks with the students included observations on the differences between the art practices of the two countries. The gallery/collector focus on technique driven vessels that drove the US Studio Glass Movement for over 40 years did not occur to the same extent in England. Instead of being gallery driven, the UK arts education sector seems to be more exhibition and grant driven. University and museum -sponsored art shows are more common as the way an artist would establish themselves. With this as their foundation, artists do not find it as necessary to focus on a single form. They are able operate with the freedom of each installation being potentially a different medium, voice, direction (though many times I would have liked to see the directions pushed much further.) In the US, with the galleries / collector based system, there exists the perception that an artist’s work be recognized for a particular form and for the work be within a series format.

The courses we held at the University included a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, and the workshops allowed and encouraged students working in different modules to interact. We found the students of the University to be some of the most engaged and accomplished students we have ever worked with. They wanted to absorb as much information as possible. Their energy was refreshing, and we added another workshop and added one talk more into the schedule.

Our final discussion was on Artist Covenant’s and how artists can create a network using social media as a way to support each other as a group. This informal talk was packed, standing room only. The artists were voracious in seeking advice on how to get their work seen and recognized. We hope we have helped energize them and perhaps rally them to work together towards their common good. The interest and respect we received from the students was over-whelming. Many of the artists have connected to us online.

We would like to thank all those who made this academic interaction possible: The Fulbright Commission, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), The University of Sunderland and the National Glass Center, The City of Sunderland and Creative Cohesion. Each in their own way has made our visit into a life changing experience.

Our mission is to now to reflect and contemplate on not only what we have achieved, but to think of ways on how best to extend our hand and continue our symbiotic and synergistic relationship so that it will not only survive but thrive.

Lets all bridge the Atlantic for many more decades.

Tim Tate & Michael Janis , Co-Directors, Washington Glass School