Glass Sparks: Tim Tate

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Tim Tate photograph by Tom Wolff

When Tim Tate started out as a glass artist there was almost no place locally that he could study glass sculpture. A third generation Washingtonian, Tim had to leave the region to be able to interact with the medium he fell in love with.


Tim works “off pipe” at Penland, NC

For 10 years, he spent every vacation, every free moment, at various arts facilities throughout the country learning as much as possible about every aspect of the medium.


After a personal event sent him to Penland School of Craft for several months, Tim left the concept of technique driven vessels behind, and began his decade long passion for narrative, content driven sculpture. By working with content, Tim had found his voice. With this clarity of focus Tim sought to enhance the position of glass as a sculptural medium to the Washington, DC art scene. Tim’s first step: he founded the Washington Glass School.

Working with Erwin Timmers and a dedicated group of volunteers, they began by clearing space out of one of DC’s abandoned school buildings that was converted to artist studios. That task was a hard enough start, but after a summer of preparation of the studios, the school was challenged by situations outside if its control. The first class occurred just days after 9/11. Thinking the students would want to cancel after so disturbing an event, Tim called all the students – who unanimously asked for the class to go on. In frightening and unstable times, Tim discovered that people like to work through pressures by creating artwork. The glass school has sought to become the refuge for those seeking artwork as a way to help define and express themselves.

Tim advises a student about a casting technique.

Over the past ten years, the school has grown greatly – crossing the threshold of 4000 students since its opening. The glass school has been host to dozens of nationally recognized instructors and students from 4 continents and many countries.

Tim has worked at having the medium of glass evolve in the last decade; taking it from a technique driven vessel approach to the mixed media sculptural material it has become.
His pioneering work at integrating contemporary electronics and video medias into traditional craft has brought much attention to his artwork. In 2009, National Public Radio (NPR) had segment about Tim’s work in their “All Tech Considered”

Click HERE to jump to the NPR segment “Tim Tate’s Hi-Tech Art”.


Tim has become an enthusiastic promoter of the medium, finding new ways to have artists of other media integrate glass into their works. He also works with other glass artists on collaborative works that takes both artists to new levels that they could not achieve on their own. Most notable are the series that Marc Petrovic and Tim Tate worked on together – the Apothecarium Moderne and the Seven Deadly Sins – which was recently featured in American Craft Magazine.

Tim has shown nationally and beyond, including exhibitions in the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; SOFA New York and Chicago; Art Basel Scope in Switzerland; Red Dot at Art Basel-Miami; the Luce Foundation Center for American Art at the Smithsonian; the Renwick Gallery and commercial galleries from Washington, DC to London and Berlin.


Tim Tate & Marc Petrovic

Apothecarium Moderne
photo: Anything Photographic

Ken Trapp, the former Curator-in-Charge of the Smithsonian American Art Museum said this of Tim’s work, “by taking on the clichés of our culture, Tate lays down a challenge for himself, a challenge he is up to…it is impossible to see such figures and not be reminded of how much the discovery of self is a daily exercise of uncovering layers we have assumed or imposed on ourselves.”

His awards include “Rising Star ” from the American, the Virginia Groot Foundation Award for Sculpture, three Artists Fellowship awards from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Mayor’s Art Award. His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, the Mint Museum, the Fuller Museum, the Katzen Art Center of American University, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Vanderbilt University. Tim Tate was just awarded a Fulbright, and in 2012, he will be at the UK’s University of Sunderland and the National Glass Centre. He has an upcoming solo show at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke, Va.

The Taubman Museum in Roanoke, VA

Click HERE to jump to the Taubman’s website information on the museum’s solo show “Tim Tate: The Waking Dreams of Magdalena Molière”


Tim will be one of the featured artists at Long View Gallery ‘s exhibition in honor of Washington Glass School’s 10 year anniversary:

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

For other glass artist profiles:

Diane Cabe
Sean Hennessey
Teddie Hathaway
Elizabeth Mears
Erwin Timmers
Michael Janis
Robert Kincheloe
Jackie Greeves
Jeff Zimmer
Allegra Marquart

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