Glass Sparks: Erwin Timmers

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In honor of Earth Day, today’s artist profile is about eco-artist Erwin Timmers.

Erwin has become one of the area’s leading “green artists”. Recycling, waste, the environment and how they relate to society are recurring themes in his work – all of which he blames on his Dutch heritage. Erwin’s main medium is one of the least recycled building materials; float glass or window glass, and he has had to develop new techniques to work with this material.

Originally from Amsterdam, Erwin Timmers moved to California, graduating from Santa Monica College for Design Art and Architecture in 1995. Erwin’s artwork and sculpture has always incorporated recycled materials, and often integrated lighting elements. In 1999 he came to the Washington DC area and along with a new home came a new passion: Glass – creating the perfect marriage of metal and light. Combining this with found and recycled metal, his work carries strong environmental themes.

“Mr Cobrahead”, recycled materials, cast recycled glass

“Love Me, Love Me Not”, recycled steel, cast recycled glass, neon

Seeking to further his knowledge on using recycled glass, Erwin soon found there were few local options that taught glass techniques and recycled glass processes. And with little information available, Erwin became a pioneer in the field, developing his own kiln schedules. Fate would have it that he met up with Tim Tate, who was then starting the foundations for a glass school in Washington, DC. With his experimental approach and his easygoing, accessible teaching attitude, Erwin and Tim started the Washington Glass School in 2001. Erwin developed a number of courses that integrate his love of the materials and his environmental philosophies. His sustainable design knowledge has been sought by other glass schools, and besides courses here at the Washington Glass School, he has been teaching across the country, spreading the word about eco-friendly art.

Erwin Timmers chats with Italian glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra.

Erwin has also become a leading consultant in LEED Certified artwork. He has received multiple public art commissions and is also featured in numerous private collections. The EPA had commissioned Erwin and the Washington Glass Studio to create an educational sculpture for the courtyard at the EPA’s Washington, DC headquarters.

Low-Impact Demonstration Project, Ariel Rios Courtyard, Washington, DC. Quinn Evans Architects, John Shorb Landscaping

Erwin Timmers and Evan Morgan installing recycled glass panels.

Recently completed architectural projects include recycled glass works for Prince George’s County Courthouse and for Fox Architects and he is currently working on an eco-friendly project for the new Safeway in Bethesda, MD. Erwin’s expertise in the field of environmental art is sought out by the media, with interviews on local news stations, including this video where Erwin’s demonstration of tempered glass did not go quite as planned. The Washington Post Magazine has just interviewed Erwin for an upcoming article on recycling, scheduled to come out this June. His artwork is featured in several books, notably “Art Glass Today” by Jeffrey Snyder and “Ideas for Creative Reuse” by Garth Johnson. Two more books that include work by Erwin are due out this Spring/Summer.

“Self Scrutiny”, cast recyled glass
photos: Anything Photographic

“Self Scrutiny” detail

Erwin’s environmental focused artwork has found an audience, from Miami International Art Fair to local and regional art gallery shows, including and upcoming engagement at Project 4 Gallery this summer. His work showcases the possibility and beauty of recycled material, while encouraging the viewer to consider his or her environmental impact.

“What We Leave Behind” cast recycled glass, steel.

Using glass salvaged from a Virginia office building refurbishment, disposable technology and ephemera from recent decades are expressed as though discovered from a future archaeological dig.


“What We Leave Behind” detail, 2000′s

photo by Anything Photographic

His work is not always appreciated in the manner he expected – a feature on his work on the Artist-a-Day website prompted viewers to ask if the work was made of Jello.

Erwin will be one of the artists featured in the upcoming LongView Gallery show Artists of the Washington Glass School: The First Ten Years.

Washington Glass School: The First 10 Years
LongView Gallery
1234 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC May 19 – June 19,2011
Artist Reception, May 19th, 6:30-8:30 PM

For other glass artist profiles

Diane Cabe
Sean Hennessey
Elizabeth Mears

Teddie Hathaway

Robert Kincheloe

Jeff Zimmer
Allegra Marquart

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

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Kris Coronado interviews Erwin Timmers

The Washington Post Magazine columnist Kris Coronado spent the day in the Washington Glass School this week, interviewing Erwin Timmers for an upcoming article on recycling and environmentally conscious artwork.

Above & Below: Washington Post photographer Benjamin Tankersley photos artwork made from recycled glass components.

Erwin talked wth Kris about his background in sustainable design, and how the growing awareness of the limits to our natural resources has led to a greater appreciation and interest in work made with environmentally responsible materials. Post photographer Benjamin Tankersley set up a full photo backdrop to properly document Erwin’s eco-artwork. The Washington Post article is due out in the paper in early June.

New Work by Erwin Timmers

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Self-Scrutiny by Erwin Timmers
24″ x 40″ x 8″ cast recycled glass, steel

photos by anythingphoto.net

detail showing interconnection of cast glass rods and knots

“Self-Scrutiny” is a new wall-mounted artwork by Erwin Timmers made from cast recycled glass and steel pipe. Erwin casts recycled glass into twisted tube-like shapes that he joins and creates forms with steel connectors. On the wall they form a maze that creates positive and negative spaces while highlighting the complex qualities of recycled glass.

detail showing depth of work

Glass for the piece is recycled – sourced from windows, household vases, and bottles. Unlike the glass made specifically for craft and art use, industrial glass is difficult to re-melt. Erwin has developed new techniques to exploit the characteristics of this material.

Erwin writes of his work: “My work references environmental issues of concern to me – primarily I see my artistic process as being involved with the process of recycling to create art…”

“I choose to recycle or reinterpret not only for reflection on environmental issues, but also for fun, play, and ultimately art. My work showcases the possibility and beauty of recycled material, while encouraging the viewer to consider their environmental impact.”

Erwin feels that one of the artist’s most important roles is to reveal the hidden value inherent within a particular object. His work encourages a re-examination of objects around us. By framing the object in a new way, one is challenged to rethink the value of everyday objects and one is encouraged to find aesthetic pleasure from what might seem to be the most mundane and ordinary of things.

In today’s society, the philosophy exists that once something has fulfilled its use, we should throw it away rather than try to find another use for it. Yet, finding new uses for discarded objects is one way to breathe life back into the objects around us. To see art where others see trash is one thing, but to lead others to see that art for themselves is what artists have been engaged in since the turn of the century.

Click HERE to jump to Erwin’s website.

Erwin Timmers featured in Target Gallery Show

>Erwin Timmers will be showing in a cool new show opening soon at Torpedo Factory’s Target Gallery
Erwin Timmers ‘What We Leave Behind’
cast recycled glass, steel, silver 2008. Photography by Anything Photographic

Reclaimed
April 1 -26, 2009
Reception: April 9, 6-8pm
Gallery Talk: 7pm

Reclaimed, an exhibition that focuses on everyday common objects that are reclaimed, recycled, reinterpreted and transformed into art. From Marcel Duchamp’s “ready-mades” to Robert Rauschenberg’s “combines”, artists have been for years recycling and reclaiming everyday common objects and transforming them into something new and unique. This exhibition is open to all artists nationally and internationally to submit work that has been reclaimed and transformed into their own personal artistic statement. The jurors for this exhibition was gallery owners Steven and Linda Krensky.