The Process: Public Art – “Essential Connections” in Arlington, VA

“Essential Connections” by Washington Glass Studio, 18’L x 4’H, cast glass, LED. 2021

The Process: Public Art – “Essential Connections”
Washington Glass Studio (WGS) –J-Sol Apartment Complex, 4000 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA

Daytime view of “Essential Connections” sculpture in Arlington, VA.

Jefferson Apartment Group with Mitsui Fudosan America developed the Arlington, VA corner site formerly home to the sports bar CarPool into a 22-story, LEED Gold-certified high-rise called J-Sol, with residential units atop ground-floor retail and parking. Working with Toronto, Canada art consultant Oni-One Sourcing owner Paula Fleck, the preliminary designs were initiated in April of 2019, well before the pandemic lockdowns. Different concepts for both design and location of artwork to enhance the new J-Sol residential development were presented to the client.

Original concept sketch
Erwin Timmers and Michael Janis review the structural steel.


Framing the corner location of the new plaza at Fairfax Drive and North Quincy St. in Arlington, VA, the sculpture is made of almost 100 individual hand cast glass panels set into a bold geometric framework of acute angles that references the sculptural qualities of the new J-Sol building. The sculpture defines the location and creates a new sense of place with the layering of color, light and shadow. Merging architecture and design with their signature material, glass, the overall presentation of the sculpture is aimed to reflect our modern society and urban space.

Meticulously fitting glass into framework.

The varieties of techniques and layers of colors provide complex visual experiences is part of the works’ aesthetic pleasure.

Public art detail
An exploration of color, texture and pattern overlay.

The inspiration for the Arlington public artwork, “Essential Connections” is how much our world has changed. The artwork draws inspiration from our attempt to find new and innovative ways to reach out and connect with each other.

Night view of “Essential Connections” sculpture by Washington Glass Studio.

As WGS Co-Director Tim Tate noted of the work: “…Our goal was to create something memorable out of daily patterns of coming and going home.” The rainbow mix of colors – each a strength unto itself – is much more powerful in combined with others. The color palette itself references nature in its yellows, blues and greens, the sun, the water and sky, the grass and trees. Stylized elements of nature will be incorporated into several the crafted glass panels – emphasizing our renewed awareness of our environment.

The colors and patterns define this public space in Arlington, VA.

The artwork’s dynamic shape forms a translucent cornerstone of sorts – inviting all into the plaza for walking, sitting, and all manner of activities conducted in the park. The new artwork help create a place for people to enjoy, feel connected and remember. Using the timeless fundamentals of light and color to define the space we made a vibrant backdrop to define the area with exuberance and life.

The public response has been immediate – during installation many passerbys came up excitedly to the sculpture – wanting to take “selfie shots” at Arlington’s newest landmark.

The artworks’ youngest fan points out their favorite glass panel inset.
DC art enthusiast Anthony Adero strikes a casual pose at the new sculpture.

Project Details:

Location: 4000 Fairfax Dr, Arlington, VA 22203 (N Quincy St & Fairfax Dr)
Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Christina Helowicz.

Erwin Timmers and Christina Helowicz the sculpture’s internal LED lighting.

Structural Steel: Criss Brothers
Number of Glass Tile Insets: 97

WGS installation team L-R: Michael Janis, Ryan Henderson, Christina Helowicz, Erwin Timmers

Community College of Baltimore County to Visit Washington Glass School

The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) new fall class schedule includes a trip to Washington Glass School!

Community College of Baltimore and Washington Glass School  co-teaching

The CCBC offers classes to the public that are designed to enlighten and offer social and cultural enrichment. Led by knowledgeable glass collector Howard Cohen, the CCBC will hold a tour of the Washington Glass School on November 16, 2021.

It will be the Best Class Ever. The more you know!

Open Studio Tours – Washington Glass School and OST 2020!

Mark your virtual calendars! August 22 Open Studio Tours goes ONLINE! See what the artists in the Glass School have been doing over the past months! washington.glass.school.art.fused.craft.america.new.vibha.inclusive.kiln.formed.cast

WGS Featured Artist: Teri Swinhart

CLICK IT! Featured Artist: Teri Swinhart

Teri Bailey

Teri Swinhart

Teri Swinhart is a multimedia artist holding a BFA in Glass from The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and an MFA from The Ohio State University. She thrives in learning, pursuing opportunities to expand her understanding of material at institutions such as Penland School of Crafts, the Corning Museum of Glass, Pilchuck Glass School and the Chrysler Museum of Art. Teri currently lives and works in Washington D.C. as the Studio Coordinator for the Washington Glass School and the Director of WGS Contemporary.

Teri Bailey teaching pâte de verre technique at the Washington Glass School.

Teri Swinhart teaching pâte de verre technique at the Washington Glass School.

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

Washington Glass School (WGS): Describe your artwork method/process.

Teri Swinhart: The forms for the Sanctuary Series are constructed by precisely layering thin glass strands to imitate weaved textile patterns. The glass strands are lightly melted together and then heated until they slump over a hand-made mold.  Each mold is uniquely carved out of a soft plaster mixture that is removed after firing, creating a negative space within the glass sculpture. I also create a charcoal drawing of my inspiration (a child hiding under a blanket) to help guide the viewer and add visual variety.  

Teri Bailey, "Sanctuary Among Fragility"; Kilnworked Glass, Flat Glass; 6”x7”x4”

Teri Swinhart, “Sanctuary Among Fragility”; Kilnworked Glass, Flat Glass; 6”x7”x4”; concept sketch above finished work.

I combined an assortment of processes to create Seeking Home. This piece includes a hand sculpted figure as well as a glass quilt square. I made the square by sifting ground up glass powder (called frit) through a stencil onto a larger sheet of flat glass. I then fired the sheet and fused the pattern onto the surface. 

Teri Bailey, "Seeking Home"; Glass, Poly-Vitro, Wood; 18”x20”x6”

Teri Swinhart, detail, “Seeking Home”; Glass, Poly-Vitro, Wood; 18”x20”x6”

Delicate Revolution is an installation of over 400 eyehooks that have been corseted together with layers of silk ribbon. This installation changes every time it is presented and is dependent on the space around it.

Teri Bailey: Detail "Delicate Revolution"; Stainless Steel Eyehooks, Ribbon, Wood; 2'x8'x1'

Teri Swinhart, Detail “Delicate Revolution”; Stainless Steel Eyehooks, Ribbon, Wood; 2’x8’x1′

Defiance (in Artists for Racial Justice Fundraiser) is a deep red glass casting of a human neck with its chin raised. The chin proudly jutting out, even though it is fractured and worn. The mold for the piece was made by painting body safe rubber mold material onto my model’s neck, waiting for it to try, then removing the mold and pouring wax into it to create a reproduction. The wax neck is then covered in plaster-silica to create a kilnproof mold. The wax is melted of out the mold and the negative space that it leaves is filled with cold chunks of glass and heated up in a kiln until they melt.

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

Teri Swinhart: The work in this show highlights many of the different processes and materials that I enjoy working with. All of these works highlight my fascination with textiles and their role in the home. Similar to artists like Mary Cassatt, I am drawn to exploring the beautiful intimacy within the home and the personal.

WGS: What artwork/event has moved you and got you thinking about your own work?

Teri Swinhart: The two biggest things influencing my work (and much of the world) right now are COVID and the BLM Movement. So much of the inspiration for my work comes from the emotion and vulnerability of the extremely personal. I am painfully empathetic, so to watch this many people die so brutally leaves me fluctuating between heartbroken, terrified, and enraged. I don’t think I could keep emotions this intense out of my artwork even if I really tried. It has shown me that I need to take a stance on things I have been privileged enough to avoid in the past and use my voice to spread love and promote change. No pressure…

Here's your coffee - & thank-you for wearing a mask!

Here’s your coffee… & thank-you for wearing a mask!

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

Teri Swinhart: A psychologist… or a barista.

WGS: Do you do a lot of planning in your work – or is there an element of chance while working?

Teri Swinhart: Definitely a little bit of both. I feel like I spend 75% of the time in my sketchbook working through each element of an idea before I begin making, then when I feel comfortable with the plan I begin bringing it to life. I am flexible throughout the process and lots of things change as I lay the materials next to each other and work through the installation… it keeps me on my toes!

Click here to jump to Teri Swinhart’s work in CLICK-IT!

Teri’s work is part of the companion exhibit/fundraiser – “Artists for Racial Justice” Click HERE to jump to the show.

Peppermill Village at Night – The City of Lights!

Peppermill Community Center public art by Washington Glass Studio and the Peppermill/Landover community.

Peppermill Community Center public art by Washington Glass Studio and the Peppermill/Landover community.

Cassi Hayden, the Senior Visual Media Photographer for The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) was at Peppermill Village Community Center covering an event recently and found the artwork (made by Washington Glass Studio) in front to be exceptionally beautiful!

Detail of the internally illuminated glass panels made with the Peppermill community as part of the public artwork.

Detail of the internally illuminated glass panels made with the Peppermill community as part of the public artwork.

Cassi took some shots attached high-res files for your use.  All photos in this posting by: M-NCPPC/Cassi Hayden

The artwork reflects well in the glass of the new center - and on the community that inspired the creation!

The artwork reflects well in the glass of the new center – and on the community that inspired the creation!

Click HERE to see the public art sculpture in the daytime and how the work came to be!

Washington Post Tips On Collecting Art: Buy Glass

Washington Post Weekend Section Suggests Visiting Washington Glass School on December 14th!

Washington Post Weekend Section Suggests Visiting Washington Glass School on December 14th!

DC’s Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, The Washington Post has tips on how to start – or build – an art collection without breaking the bank. WaPo’s Stephanie Williams writes tips on how to find affordable (real) art. winter.gateway.artist.by.the.tracks.washington.post.art.open.studio

Peppermill Community Center Public Art

Peppermill Community Center

Peppermill Community Center with the internally illuminated artwork “Telling Our Story…” by Washington Glass Studio.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) commissioned Washington Glass Studio (WGS) to create a public art sculpture for the new addition to the Peppermill Community Center in Landover, MD.

Shop drawing of sculpture by WGS.

Shop drawing of sculpture by WGS.

Some communities see public art as a way of enhancing or personalizing otherwise impersonal spaces. Others view it as a means to activate civic dialogue or provide a vehicle for the community to express its identity.

These landmarks and special events enhance our experience of a place and our quality of life. They engender a sense of pride and community identity. They reach audiences outside museums, galleries, and theaters, and they add to the beauty of everyday life. They declare the worth of a place and a time in our shared culture.

Erwin Timmers leads a community glass making workshop at the Washington Glass School.

Erwin Timmers leads a community glass making workshop at the Washington Glass School.

As such, the design of the site-specific sculpture by WGS was centered on finding ways to get the community excited and engaged with the convergence of art, history and community. The proposal for the art was based on a 15’H tower of glass and steel that would be internally illuminated with over 100 glass inset panels. The artwork of the insets were to be created by involving the community via a series of glass-making workshops held at the Washington Glass School

A great cross section of community came out to be part of the creation of the new public art for Peppermill Community Center.

A great cross section of community came out to be part of the creation of the new public art for Peppermill Community Center.

The residents and stakeholders were tasked with showing what they felt important to them and what inspired them were made. Images of family, nature, the environment, their neighborhoods, their sports teams were rendered in glass.

All sorts of imagery and glass techniques were employed to great effect.

All sorts of imagery and glass techniques were employed to great effect.

Cast glass images of the social groups – the sewing groups, the cheer squads, the state flag – even a Maryland blue crab were crafted. Historical references to the nearby horse farms and the old roller rink were included in the mix of glass panels. Part of the fun of the artwork is seeing how this mix of images and references all somehow work together.

The tower, titled :"Telling Our Story..." adds a powerfull and dramitic artistic element at the new entry at the community center.

The tower, titled :”Telling Our Story…” adds a powerful and dramatic artistic element at the new entry at the community center.

Shaping places—with landmarks and landscapes, events and ideologies—sets the stage for a critical part of our existence: our connection with our environment; with our past, present, and future; and with other human beings.

The mix of images and stories told create a compelling and inclusive mixture - each distinctive and unique - yet cohesive as a whole.

The mix of images and stories told create a compelling and inclusive mixture – each distinctive and unique – yet cohesive as a whole.

“Telling Our Story…”
Artist: Washington Glass Studio
Project Team: Teri Bailey, Michael Janis, Erwin Timmers, Tim Tate and Lee Kind.
Media: Cast and fused glass, steel, LED lighting, concrete.
Location: Peppermill Community Center, 610 Hill Rd, Landover, MD 20785
Client: The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission