A Sublime Fusion of Light, Color, Transparency and Reflection
I think the most perfect, sublime, and ethereal works of art come from glass artists and their fusion of light, color, transparency, and reflection. This mixture results in an ever-changing heavenly experience, depending on the time of day, angle and motion of the light source, degree of transparency, and reflective surface on which these art elements are built or placed.
Opaque glass works have a certain beauty of their own, but without the dimension or beauty that transparent glass achieves. Two styles of this medium that I love are stained glass and hand-blown glass. These are two very different methods requiring two exhibitions, so the purpose of this Virtual Exhibit of mine focuses mainly on the latter. I call it “Ethereal Glassworks: A sublime fusion of light, color, transparency, and reflection.”
There is a wonderful online gallery of contemporary glass artists to be found here: http://holstengalleries.com/artists . It is an enjoyable experience to explore this online glass gallery, learn about all the different artists, their styles, and how many of them are interconnected with one another. For my exhibition I narrowed my choices to five artists: the famous and prolific Seattle artist, Dale Chihuly; the Italian maestro of glass, Lino Tagliapietra; New York artist, Dorothy Hafner; Alabama artist, Stephen Powell; and Massachusetts artist, Nancy Callan. There is also one unique glass work that I just had to include at the end of my blog.
I believe Dale Chihuly may be the best known glass artist in the world. He was born in 1941, in Tacoma, Washington. While studying interior design at the University of Washington, he was first introduced to glass blowing and in 1967 received his M.S. in sculpture. He established a Glass Department (I wish UAA had one!) at the Rhode Island School of Design and in 1971 was one of the founders of the famous Pilchuck Glass School.
He was one of the first to use a team approach to the art of glass blowing, enabling him to produce architectural glass at a large scale and in quantities that would be impossible alone, or even with one assistant.
In 1976, he lost his left eye sight in a car accident which forced him to turn over his position as chief glassblower to his partner, William Morris, and others. Morris had both the talent and physical strength; together they developed large scale glass works in the form of chandeliers, glass ceilings, and other outdoor installation. A common theme of their work was formations and colors that could be found under the sea.
Chihuly’s body of work is enormous. I have a coffee table book that is actually a 365-day calendar, showing beautiful glass creation by Chihuly on every page. Two samples of his work are shown below. I wish I could show you more!
Lino Tagliapietra is another world famous glass artist. Dale Chihuly has said “Lino is perhaps the world’s greatest living glassblower.” He was born in 1934 in Murano, Italy. At the age of 12 he apprenticed with Archimedes Seguso and by the age of 21 he had worked his way up to “maestro” in the world of glass. By the end of the 1970s, Tagliapietra was creating his own designs. In 1979 he came to teach at Chihuly’s Pilchuck School of Glass in Seattle and taught centuries-old glassblowing techniques to American artists.
Tagliapietra’s preference was to design his glass pieces in various series and often named them after famous places that inspired him such as Maui, Borneo, Balboa, etc. Sometimes his series were names after shapes or themes such as Angel Tears, Dinosaurs, Masai, etc. Some of my favorites are from the Angel Tears series:
Dorothy Hafner received her B.A. from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is known for creating colorful, free-standing glass panels and layering colored glass panels to create secondary colors. She is a painter and a sculptor, but first tried glass works and ceramics in 1973. She also has created over 12 lines of tableware for Corning Glass, Tiffany & Co. and Rosenthal in Germany.
From her website: “The poetry of the sea, the marvel of outer space and scientific imagery, and the love of music and dance are the inspirational springboards from which Hafner has worked for over 30 years. Whether creating glass sculpture, functional objects, or architectural installations, her works have consistently won both critical praise and commercial acclaim. Widely published and eagerly collected, her works are in museum collections worldwide.
Two of my favorites of her work:
Stephen Powell was born in 1951 in Birmingham, Alabama. He received his M.S. in Fine Art from Louisiana State University. He currently teaches Glass Art at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Lino Tagliapietra has been a guest instructor in Powell’s classes and has been a life-long inspiration.
Powell is known for his playful, whimsical, large-scale blown glass sculptures. He also uses a team of several glass artists to create these very large pieces. He has a technique for creating colorful, delicate designs by laying out intricate patterns of glass beads before applying heat. Two of my favorites of Powell’s work:
Nancy Callan received a B.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art in 1996. After attending a workshop given by Lino Tagliapietra, she moved to Seattle. Since then she has been a member of the Tagliapietra glassblowing team as well as his assistant as they travel across the globe holding workshops.
Callan has designed collections of her own for both public museums and private collections – some owned by celebrities such as Elton John. She specializes in tops and orbs as her influences come from childhood toys and comic books. I love the beauty of her pieces as well as the reflections they create on the surfaces in which they are placed.
Two of my favorites of Callan’s work:
In glassworks, usually color is favored but not always necessary to create a beautiful work of art. I want to share with you one last, unique piece to illustrate what I mean by that. The work below is called “Black Reticello Leaf and Acorn” by California artist, Dante Marioni. Marioni also studied at Chihuly’s Pilchuck School of Glass and he says his major influence is also glass maestro, Lino Tagliapietra. As I did my research for my virtual exhibit, I found that many of these glass artists are connected to one another.