Building Worlds @ GRACE

The Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) in Northern Virginia’s town of Reston,  presents Building Worlds - an exhibit of artwork that focuses on the role of science fiction, scientific fact, and fantasy in the changing nature of our relationship to our fears, ideals, and questions about being human.

Laura Beth Konopinski, "Hang:Purge"; glass; 2018

Laura Beth Konopinski, “Hang:Purge”; glass; 2018; photo by Pete Duvall

The artists in this exhibition create their own worlds, including cultural references and artifacts, to question the assumptions of history-making and truth-telling. Building Worlds features the work of Michael Booker, Rachel Guardiola, Timothy Harper, Laura Beth Konopinski, and Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann.

Opening Reception and Curator’s Talk: July 21, 5–7pm

Building Worlds
July 21- September 15, 2018
Greater Reston Arts Center
12001 Market Street, Suite #103, Reston, VA 20190
703.471.9242

National Liberty Museum To Blast-Off With Spacelab Exhibit of Glass Art

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SPACELAB: An Interstellar Exhibit of Glass Art
On display at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum from July 6 – September 7, 2018

SPACELAB is a one-of-a-kind showcase of glass art that explores the great unknown – outer space. This collection of artwork examines human relationships with the universe, including space travel; extraterrestrial beings and intergalactic discoveries; the vastness and mystery of space; and much more. The innovative nature of glassmaking makes it the perfect medium for this subject, which has captured imaginations since the dawn of humankind. The featured work ranges from whimsical and mystical to elegant and awe-inspiring. WGS’ Laura Beth Konopinski is one of the featured artists in the exhibit. 

Laura Beth Konopinski; "her Inner space given Out"; Blown and recycled glass, torchworked and sculpted, enamel, preserved organic materials, 4.5in x 4.5in x 8.5in

Laura Beth Konopinski; “her Inner space given Out”; Blown and recycled glass, torchworked and sculpted, enamel, preserved organic materials, 4.5in x 4.5in x 8.5in

Friday, July 6 is the Opening Reception of SPACELAB. The public is invited to see a  preview the show, meet featured artists, and see a performance by the over-the-top glam rock band, OOLALA.  The event is free with a suggested donation of $10 to support the Museum’s public programming.   RESERVE NOW!

The National Liberty Museum’s mission of supporting glass art positions the institution as a unique venue to celebrate and discuss issues relevant to the international glass community.

Artists Accepted for this Exhibit:

NLM_logo_245321 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

For more info – click link to jump to Liberty Museum website http://www.libertymuseum.org/glass-art/glassaccess-exhibits/spacelab-exhibit/

New Glass Museum opens in Sunny St. Pete!

Imagine Museum's  ribbon cutting on Tuesday, January 23rd at 10:30 a.m.

Imagine Museum’s grand opening ribbon cutting will be on Tuesday, January 23rd @ 10:30 a.m.

The brand-new Imagine Museum opens January 23, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Florida, near the Morean Arts Center, which has a permanent collection of Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork.

The vision for the museum comes via its benefactor, Trish Duggan, a glass collector and artist in her own right. Duggan wanted to create a space with both aesthetic and civic significance, a cultural institution dedicated to her medium of choice: glass. The new museum’s primary collection will focus on the explosive growth and diversification of the studio glass movement in America since the 1960’s, and extends to new directions in contemporary glass.

The collection of the museum seeks to present an historical Family Tree of the American Studio Glass Movement from the 1960’s to the present. This 55-year phenomenon is represented by 55 prominent glass artists who exemplify its vitality. The collection comprises almost 500 extraordinary works that highlight the connections and influences among studio glass pioneers through to the present. The museum’s collection was acquired with the help of Corey Hampson, president and owner of Michigan’s Habatat Galleries, who was acting as a “curatorial advisor.” 

imagine,museumImagine Museum
1901 Central Avenue
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33713

 

Workhouse Glass National 2015

lorton.glass.national.maurine_littleton.2015.usa.art.virginiaLorton, Virginia’s Workhouse Arts Center opened its 1st Annual Workhouse Glass National Exhibition reception this past weekend. The exhibit was created from an “Open Call” for functional and/or sculptural glass artworks, juried by the legendary gallerist, Maurine Littleton.

Featuring a range of contemporary glass artwork currently being created throughout the United States of America, Washington Glass School is proud that works by two WGS Resident Artists, Veta Carney and Diane Cooper Cabe were among the artwork selected for the exhibit. Congratulation to all the artists!

Artists exhibiting:
Paul Heller, Elizabeth James, Sandi Martina, Nancy Nicholson, Biba Schutz, Barbara Atkinson, Suellen Black, Diane Cooper Cabe, Veta Carney, Eli Cecil, Lauren Cummings,, Dick Ditore, Jean Fernandes, Rhonda Gilbert, Charlie Holden, Jaye Houle, Benjamin Johnson, Winn Jones, Rollin Karg, Laura Beth Konopinski, Andrew Madvin, Ursula Marcum, Jennifer Nauck, Steven Ramsey, Mary Richardson, Scott Slagerman, Paul Swartwood, Natalie Tyler and Janet Wittenberg

Workhouse Glass National 2015

Now thru  - January 17, 2016

9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton, VA 22079

Glass as Sculptural Medium Talk at ISC Conference

international.sculpture

The ISC conference returns to New Orleans for the 24th International Sculpture Conference: Sculpture, Culture, and Community, being held from October 1-4, 2014. This conference will feature panel discussions, keynote speakers, ARTSlams, optional tours, and networking events, and will explore how sculpture and the arts can rejuvenate communities and economies.

One of the panel discussions, “Glass as Sculptural Medium in the 21st Century” is sure to be one to see! Moderated by Patrick Blythe, the panelists include Tulane University Professor Gene Koss, arts writer/critic/historian/scuba diver William Warmus, and WGS Professor Tim Tate.

sculpture.talk.new.orleans

If you are going to the vibrant city of New Orleans for the ISC conference – make sure your calendars marked for Friday’s talk starting at 2:30 pm at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

The Process: Public Art and Placemaking

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DC Ward 7 Green Community Arch sculpture located at the new Unity Healthcare Building.

One of the Washington Glass Studio’s most ambitious public art projects has just completed installation. The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities commissioned the sculpture for the new Unity Healthcare facility in Washington, DC, and the glass-and-steel artwork was installed without a problem this week.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

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Concept design for the Green Community Gateway Arch

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The public artwork concept was designed and engineered to a high level.

The design of the public artwork was intended to mark the symbolic entrance to the Kenilworth / Parkside section of DC’s Ward 7. This area (near Caeser Chavez charter school, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Anacostia Freeway) was recently identified as a DC Promise neighborhood – and its experiencing a renewed investment in neighborhood revitalization. After meeting with community representatives, the WGS team focused on themes that were strongly held. A “Community Gateway Arch” became the vision for the placemaking sculpture that would help identify the new environment. The glass panel insets in the 16′ tall sculpture would be made with the help of the neighborhood residents, students of the high school, and the staff of the new Unity Healthcare facility. The Washington Glass Studio worked with the DC Creates! Public Art Program selection committee, the DCCAH Council, Unity Parkside Health Care, the Ward 7 ANC and the community and held a series of glass “quilting-bees” and made a communal environment where community and art were not separate. 

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Artist Erwin Timmers oversaw the structural integration of support framework, LED lighting and glass panel insets.

The 16′ high x 14′ wide sculpture lit internally with LED lighting was one of the largest outdoor artworks installed to date for the Washington Glass Studio, and much went into the design, engineering and the fabrication of the steel framework. 

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

In early 2014, with the structural foundation for the artwork finished and the steel framework underway, the call went out to the community to come make glass. By directly involving the public in the creation of the new landmark, the space would resonate because the artwork would have meaning to all – as everyone had the chance to tell their story.  The glass workshops were packed. Many of the people that came to work in glass returned to each of the scheduled dates – they loved working in glass and wanted to see how the artwork changed once fired. 

DC ANC Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

DC ANC Ward 7 Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

By having many area residents making the glass art insets, the sculpture has an increased sense of local identity. The artwork arch stimulates curiosity, inspired some of the budding artists to consider new artistic avenues and on occasion, create a smile.

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Many voices told many stories in the inset panels that made up the glass quilt archway.

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Opposite view of Washington, DC’s Green Community Arch.

The formal opening ceremony of the Anacostia Arch with DC Mayor Gray is now being scheduled. We will update on the school’s FB page and on the blog!

Project Details

  • Location: Corner Hayes Street & Kenilworth Terrace, NE; Washington, DC 20019
  • Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson, Derek Thomas, Miles Lark, Cris Chaney and Robyn Townsend
  • Structural Engineers: Holbert Apple Associates, Inc and Wolfman and Associates
  • Structural Steel: Iron Kingdom
  • Number of Glass Tile Insets: Over 300
  • Weight of Sculpture: 2000 lbs

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

DC’s SEED Charter School: Come to Washington Glass School & Learn About Sins

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The SEED School of Washington, DC


The SEED school of Washington DC is a public charter boarding school
whose mission is “to provide an outstanding intensive educational program that prepares children … for success in college.” This past week, students from the school came to the Washington Glass School for a one-day hands-on class that mixed art, history, chemistry, mathematics and physics.


The students worked at creating bas-relief cast glass artwork that related to “The Seven Deadly Sins” – which, here at the Washington Glass School, is one subject we know all about. The dry plaster casting – that is. Tim Tate and Marc Petrovic did do a collaborative mixed media glass sculpture on the Seven Deadly Sins, and, as we all know, Tim is the devil
– so who better to seek advice?


Not quite sure where a mermaid fits into the 7 Deadly Sins…perhaps its not a mermaid but a Siren (Lust)? or is it “check out my awesome tail” (Pride)?


Erwin Timmers points out the obvious.

The class had a great time creating imagery in plaster that glass would be formed into as bas-relief.
The SEED school arts instructor, Kamala Subramanian said later:
It is not easy to maintain the attention, much less excite teenager students today, where the most exciting things, to me, appear boring to them. You all have earned an A+ in my book of field trips and art experiences!

So there! The Washington Glass School got its first A+!

ReadysetDC on Washington Glass School

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The hip and trendy culture blog – ReadysetDC just covered the Washington Glass School 10th anniversary exhibition at Long View Gallery with an in-depth review of the show with insights about the Washington Glass School directors and DC GlassWorks’ Dave D’Orio.

Writer Natalie Stemp has some thoughtful takes on the changing status of glass as a sculptural medium:
“Let’s play a game. If I say “canvas”, what do you picture? You probably imagine art – Vermeer, Seurat, Picasso, Mondrian, maybe even DC’s Chris Martin. What if I say “glass”? Do the words “sink, wine, stained” instantly light up like neon signs? If so, you are not alone, but the Washington Glass School (WGS) wishes you were.

The Studio Glass Movement was founded just 50 years ago, so it is not surprising that most of us still perceive glass art strictly as decorative. In fact, the WGS – the face of the Movement in DC along with DC GlassWorks – celebrated its 10 year anniversary last weekend with a reception at Longview Gallery that concluded a month-long retrospective exhibition. After touring the exhibition with Michael Janis, co-director of WGS, I find it difficult to understand why the art establishment struggles to include consistent representation of expressive glass art at preeminent shows and museums. Think about the museums you visited in the past year: did any of them include contemporary glass art in its curation?…”

Natalie’s article contains many photos taken from the exhibition and comments about the featured artist’s work.

ReadysetDC is an online zine dedicated to the creative revolution and movement that is happening in Washington, DC.

Click HERE to jump to ReadysetDC’s article.

The Process: National Geographic’s Environment Award

>This posting is the first of a new feature for the Washington Glass School blog: The Process’.
The occasional series will present a photo documentation of a project from start (or at least when we remembered to get a camera going) to finish, highlighting the steps, process and techniques involved. Mistakes, dramas, and screw-ups will be magically deleted from the documentation postings, naturally.

Our first of the series is a focus on the making of National Geographic’s newest award – the ‘National Geographic Arts Ambassador for the Environment Award’ . The recipient for the inaugural award is musician Jack Johnson.

Uber-mellow singer-songwriter-surfer-filmmaker Jack Johnson has dedicated himself to environmental causes, including educational initiatives and promoting eco-friendly touring in the music industry.

Musician and environmental activist Jack Johnson was to receive the newly created “Arts Ambassador for the Environment Award,” presented to an individual in the entertainment field who has demonstrated leadership in environmental and cultural conservation by elevating issues of sustainability and inspiring audiences to care about the planet. Jack Johnson grew up surfing and playing guitar in Hawaii. He released his first album in 2001 and, in the last ten years, has released 5 more albums that have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. In 2003, Jack and his wife Kim founded the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Kokua Festival to support environmental education in Hawaii’s schools and communities. In 2008, Jack donated 100% of his tour profits to establish the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, an endowment founded by Jack and Kim Johnson to support environmental, art and music education worldwide. These tour profits, along with Johnson’s personal charitable activities, have resulted in millions donated to charity since 2001.

In keeping with the environmental conscious theme, the National Geographic Society asked for an award that was made from recycled glass, and a number of designs were studied.


As the award was to be yearly, the concepts had to allow for art ambassadors that worked in areas of interest such as “oceans” or “forests” or “wildlife” and be able to relate equally to those themes. Early on, a globe shape was favored by the National Geographic award committee. Recycled float (window) glass was to be cast using the lost wax process. The National Geographic committee stipulates that the cast glass globe be removable, and options for the support base are explored.

The Process:

Spraying the clay original with a mold release agent.


Pouring the rubber mold compound around the original clay form.


After setting up – preparing to cut open the rubber mold and remove the clay form. After removal of the clay, melted wax is poured into the rubber mold, and a wax copy of that form is removed.


The wax original.


The wax original is coated with with layers of a plaster/silica mix, building up the form until a solid covering is achieved.


The plaster/silica form is allowed to set up. Once hardened, the wax is melted out – the essence of the ‘lost wax’ process.


Checking the mold for any wax residue.


Recycled float glass is cleaned and made ready for casting.


The molds are loaded into the electric kilns and glass placed into ceramic pot reservoirs. The glass globes go through a six day annealing cycle.


After the glass is cooled, the forms are removed from the kilns.


The molds are broken open, being mindful of the glass contained within.


Chipping away at the plaster mold.


The glass is cleaned and coldworked. Rough spots are ground and polished to a shine.


Robert Kincheloe evaluates the level of shine on the glass globe continents.


While the cast glass globe is being coldworked, the base for the globe and the award nameplate is being created. A custom ceramic mold is shaped and fired. A flat blank made from recycled glass is fused and made ready to slump into the ceramic mold.


The glass base is fired in the kiln and coldworked to receive the glass globe.

The base is fitted with a clear gasket to prevent chipping of glass.


Studio photos of the award and of the evening were promised by National Geographic – we will post once we get the shots!

About the National Geographic award night:

The theme of the National Geographic’s inaugural “Evening of Exploration” celebration was “Oceans,” and the event was attended by an all-star cast of explorers and other luminaries, including newly appointed National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence filmmaker James Cameron and marine ecologist Enric Sala, as well as other Explorers-in-Residence who presented the evening’s awards: oceanographer Robert Ballard, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, wildlife filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert and population geneticist Spencer Wells.

In keeping with the environmental theme – the appetizers were made from “invasive species” – like snakehead fish sushi.

Besides Jack Johnson, the other honorees included: Environmental anthropologist Kenny Broad and the late underwater photographer Wes Skiles were named “Explorers of the Year,” a new award presented in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in exploring and documenting the Blue Holes of the Bahamas in 2010. The National Geographic “Chairman’s Award” was presented to IBM for significantly advancing knowledge of the world through its research partnership with National Geographic on the Genographic Project, which is mapping the migratory history of humans.

The master of ceremonies was Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s lead political anchor. Following the awards presentation, Johnson performed songs for the crowd.

Jack Johnson performing at the National Geographics award gala.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit National Geographic’s Explorer programs, comprising the Explorers-in-Residence, Fellows and Emerging Explorers. The “Evening of Exploration” was the culmination of the two-day National Geographic 2011 Explorers Symposium, an annual event at which National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Fellows, Emerging Explorers, grantees and others affiliated with National Geographic gather to share findings of their research and fieldwork and take part in panel discussions.