SPRING 2017 VOLUME 28 ISSUE 1
3 Letter from the President 3 Letter from the Editor 4 Pressroom: Whatʼs New at GAS 6 Keyed Up for Keynote - Glass, Learning Curves,
8 Aggressive Excess 11 Articulated Air: Some Thoughts on Movement,
Breath, and Imagination in Glass performances
14 Making Things with Words 16 Virginia is for Glass Lovers 18 Wonderful Mechanisms: Engaging Audiences
with Glass Engines
20 The Interlayer: Perspectives of Graal Glass:
Symposium with Master Classes Bild-Werk Frauenau
22 GAS Resource Links Cover: Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, b. 1924) Third Family - Heptagon (detail), 2011, Mirror, reverse-glass painting, and acrylic, 46 x 47.5 x 8", Artwork © Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery, San Francisco. Photo by Robert Divers Herrick.
GASnews is published four times per year as a benefit to members.
Glass Art Society Board of Directors 2016-2017
Contributing Writers: Stine Bidstrup, Shane Fero, Michael Hernandez, Rebecca Hopman, Ian Messenger Schmidt, Suzanne Peck, Anna Riley Editor: Michael Hernandez Managing Editor: Erika Enomoto Graphic Design: Ted Cotrotsos*
President: Cassandra Straubing Vice President: Stephen Powell Vice President: Natali Rodrigues Treasurer: John Kiley Secretary: Tracy Kirchmann
Staff Pamela Figenshow Koss, Executive Director Erika Enomoto, Communications Coordinator Kassaundra Porres, Executive Assistant Salena Hill, Office & Volunteer Coordinator Shih Yu Liu (Gina), Communications Intern
Alex Bernstein Kelly Conway Matt Durran Michael Hernandez Jessica Julius Ed Kirshner Jeff Lindsay
Marc Petrovic Charlotte Potter Lynn Read Masahiro Nick Sasaki Jan Smith David Willis
Student Rep: Ian Messenger Schmidt
6512 23rd Avenue NW, Suite 329, Seattle, WA 98117 USA Phone: 206.382.1305 Fax: 206.382.2630 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
©2017 The Glass Art Society, a non-profit organization. All rights reserved. Publication of articles in this newsletter prohibited without permission from the Glass Art Society Inc. The Glass Art Society reserves the right to deny applications for Tech Display, advertising participation, GAS membership or conference participation to anyone for any reason.
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Dear Glass Friends, Performance art, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a performance presented to an audience within a fine art context, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. It can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience.” 1 When I think of the idea of performance art, I cannot help but think of a working glass studio. Whether it’s casting, kilnworking, flameworking, or blowing, our medium naturally lends itself to performance. I hope you all will participate in this year’s GAS Conference in Norfolk, Virginia, as it celebrates performance in the glass studio. On another note, in late-January our Board of Directors met in Seattle, Washington for the GAS Long Range Planning Retreat. It was during this valuable meeting time that we revisited our mission statement, studied the results of the membership survey, and outlined a current SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis for our organization. I am pleased to share with you some of the long-term goals that will help the Glass Art Society grow.
My anticipation is building for the 2017 conference, Reflections from the Edge: Glass, Art, and Performance, which is just a few short months away. Held in Norfolk, Virginia, the 46th GAS conference will have all of the trappings of every great conference with performance as an added focus to this year’s programming. For a number of presenters in our colorful community, the glass studio will become a stage to explore material phenomenon, viewer interaction, and spectacle beyond the creation of objects. While the approach to performance in the glass studio dates back to early studio glass, it has become an increasingly important and widespread component of glass art practice. To bring focus on the themes of this year’s conference presentations, this issue features articles that consider the practices and concepts of lectures and demonstrations. Suzanne Peck provides a thoughtful introduction of keynote speaker Mark Dion, his work, and his attraction to glass as a material. Stine Bidstrup calls attention to breath as a performative action in her piece, Articulated Air. Through a philosophical and art historical framework, Bidstrup discusses contemporary works that rely on breath that go beyond creating volume, moving to explore concept and ephemeral phenomena. Anna Riley makes a call to reexamine the language of the glassblowing studio in response to the themes of Karen Donnellan and Suzanne Peck’s upcoming lecture, Blow Harder: An Exploration of Language, Sexuality, and Gender in the Glassblowing Studio. Riley provides an insightful evaluation of the glassblower’s lexicon, moving for a reconsideration of terminology that fosters gender-conscious inclusivity. Changes in our social, cultural, and artistic communities are bringing new conversations and voices to the landscape of glass art. The writers for the Spring issue of GASnews set the stage for a host of interesting directions and dialogue to look forward to at this year’s conference, which will certainly direct attention to the rapid growth of ideas and new directions in glass. I hope to see you there!
1. Increase our administrative staff to support current and future long range objectives without overburdening the current hardworking four-person staff. 2. Globalize our membership and make GAS a true international organization. This will happen through collaboration with other glass art organizations around the globe. 3. Offer year-round content for all of our members to stay connected and keep the glass vivacity buzzing until the next conference! Glass Trivia: Glassblowing was America’s first industry! American glassmaking began in 1608 in Jamestown, Virginia, which is not far from this year’s conference site! In solidarity,
Cassandra Straubing President Michael Hernandez
SWPI R NITNEGR 22001174
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PRESSROOM: WHATʼS NEW AT GAS Far left: First Place undergraduate winner Hattie Billingham, Misfire, 2015, mirror, colored enamel, 10 x 10 x 10" Left: First Place graduate winner Kit Paulson, Bonnet, 2016, borosilicate glass, 11 x 14 x 12"
Glass Art Society Unveils Fourth Annual International Student Online Exhibition and Juried Catalogue December 31, 2016 – The Glass Art Society announced that the 2016 International Student Online Exhibition and Juried Selection Catalogue are now available to view on the GAS website. This annual online exhibition provides students the opportunity to showcase their work to art professionals, enthusiasts, and fellow students from across the globe. In fall 2016, the Glass Art Society invited current full and part-time student members to submit images of their recent work for inclusion in the 2016 International Student Online Exhibition. All submissions are original, professionally crafted, contain glass as a main element, and were designed or created between 2015-2016. In addition to this all-inclusive exhibition, GAS invited three distinguished jurors, Douglas Heller, Erica Rosenfeld, and Ethan Stern, to select works for inclusion in the fourth annual digital Juried Selection Catalogue. The jurors awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, honorable mentions, and
additional selected works in two categories, undergraduate and graduate students. For the Undergraduate category, first place went to National College of Art and Design student Hattie Billingham for the piece, Misfire, an installation using mirrors and colored enamels to play with optics and represent the chaos that can occur in the brain by an interrupted firing of a neurotransmitter. Kagen Dunn from the University of Texas at Arlington was awarded second place for Who Are They?, a work created with screen printed enamels and photo decals fired in the kiln, which demonstrates how humans often label one another based on outward appearances. Bowling Green State University student Jacqueline Polofka received third place for her cast glass piece, The Perfect Slice. Polofka’s work explores recreation – she states, “I can use this captivating material to make work that deceives the eye and stands the test of time.” Kit Paulson from Southern Illinois
University was awarded first place for the Graduate level for her flameworked piece, Bonnet. Paulson states that she “value[s] glass both for its inherent aesthetic properties…and for the way it has historically been used,” and finds “constant inspiration in both of the attributes of the material.” Southern Illinois University student Rebecca Szparagowski received second place for her installation, Psyche. The 1,000 glass figures piece poses questions about self-identity and what influences one’s perception of self. Chenyang Mu of Rochester Institute of Technology received third place for his piece Evoke, a work that explored shape and material and, as Mu explains, “use[s] form to deconstruct and reconstruct sound.” The digital Juried Selection Catalogue can be accessed on issuu.com and the complete 2016 International Student Online Exhibition, featuring the work of 77 students, is displayed on the Glass Art Society website.
To view past press releases and announcements from the GAS office, visit www.glassart.org/pressroom.html
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Glass Art Society to Receive $20,000 Grant from The National Endowment for the Arts December 22, 2016 – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to the Glass Art Society for the public programs of the 2017 Glass Art Society Conference in Norfolk, Virginia and the Glass Art Society Journal. The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. “The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as the Glass Art Society, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said
NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.” Glass artists from across America and around the world will come together in Norfolk, Virginia from June 1-3, 2017 for “Reflections from the Edge: Glass, Art, and Performance,” the 46th Glass Art Society Conference. Over one hundred artists are scheduled to present on a range of topics and will include art demonstrations to attendees. The public is invited to attend free events such as the much-anticipated Day of Glass program. The 2017 Glass Art Society Journal will serve as an archival record documenting the conference and showcasing art made with glass. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news
2018 Glass Art Society Conference: Il Percorso di Vetro - The Glass Path February 3, 2016 – The 2018 GAS Conference, themed Il Percorso di Vetro – The Glass Path, will lead attendees through the winding path of the island’s remarkable history while exploring the future of glass and discovering the hidden routes connecting the conference venues. A selection of Murano’s glass factories and studios will provide the Glass Art Society with the incredible opportunity to use these facilities as venues for the conference. In order to accommodate this unique conference experience, we will be honoring their tradition and some programs that are usually featured at our conferences will not be included. As a result, we anticipate an extraordinary program emphasizing demonstrations with less focus on lectures. The current Italian Steering Committee is comprised of artists and community art supporters Cesare Toffolo, Lucio Bubacco, Davide Salvadore, Marina Tagliapietra, GASNEWS
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The Church of Santa Maria e San Donato in Murano, Venice, Italy. Photo: Gianluigi Bertola
Roberto Donà, Adriano Berengo, the Consorzio Promovetro Murano, and is led by glass maestro Lino Tagliapietra. The 2018 GAS conference is sponsored in part V O L U M E 2 58 , II SS SS U U EE 41
by the Berengo Foundation and the artists of the Italian Steering Committee.
KEYED UP FOR KEYNOTE: GLASS, LEARNING CURVES, AND COMMUNITY by Suzanne Peck
Mark Dion, Bone Coral (phantom museum), 2011, mixed media (paper mache, glass, pedestal), 126 x 101.5 x 35.5 cm, Courtesy Georg Kargl Fine Arts Vienna
“I work in glass because the material is one of the most interesting and difficult materials to make meaning with. It is so seductive. It’s a siren that hurls you onto the rocks if you don't get it right. Glass teaches you hard lessons but on the other side, the material teaches patience, tolerance, and how to see.” Mark Dion is a contemporary artist who works across disciplines and media to address ideas surrounding the role of the museum, methods of collecting and display, and conceptual and physical preservation of both precious and quotidian objects and ideas. He addresses systems, relying on tropes of collecting, taxonomy, and the organization of information. As an environmentalist, Dion’s work addresses the effects of the human desire to dominate nature. A particularly important aspect of his practice is his dedication to research. His exploration into the history of science, biology, and the museum results in an incisive visual commentary on truth, narrative, and object. Dion’s work has been exhibited at major museums around
the world. His work is on the pulse of the contemporary art conversation, engaging his conceptual concerns on human, historical, and ecological scales through his distinct visual vocabulary. In addition to his studio practice, Dion is also the co-director of Mildred’s Lane located in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. To call Mildred’s Lane a ‘summer arts residency’ is akin to calling Pilchuck Glass School a ‘place to learn to blow glass.’ “At Mildred’s Lane, we try to encourage people to leave their own practices at the door and try new kinds of collaborative practices, work as a team, and also expand their idea of what art is into their everyday life. They are asked to push beyond their modus operandi,” explained Dion. He also teaches at Columbia University in the art department’s mentorship program for graduate students. Dion’s practice has engaged with glass and with the glass community in a number of capacities: lecturer, visiting artist and critic, designer, maker. To approach an artist of his caliber to present the keynote speech at the GAS conference is to throw the GASNEWS
net wide to the kind of artistic conversations that the glass community would, should, and could be having. “I can’t talk about what I don’t do. I assume that's why you are inviting me here, to talk about what I do.” It was with a tone of pleasant bewilderment that he describes being invited to give lectures like this at a number of craft and education conferences over the past few years. “I tend to give a talk that privileges the new work, and focuses on greatest hits, as well. I have to play Freebird, obviously. I want to show new things for the people who might have seen me speak before.” Dion hopes to refresh and renew his connection to those familiar with his work, while indoctrinating the new listeners to his practice and methods. His way of speaking is disarmingly honest, approachable, and revealing of a keen curiosity and intellect. Glass has inherent material metaphors and concepts that are useful for students, artists, and appreciators. It has wide visual properties of optics and transparency, functions as a material to both look at and look through, and holds deep historical relationships to mimicry and artifact. Individual makers are magnetized to glass for their own personal reasons and Dion is no different. His work attends to glass, as he does to most ideas and materials, in a straightforward and pragmatic way. “Glass is such an important part of the history of museums and the history of display,” he described. “There is this use of glass as a protective element. That kind of idea of arresting time, arresting decay, arresting entropy - This so essential in glass. This is what I use it for, largely.” This element of capture and pause are relevant, if not unique reasons to employ glass in one’s art practice. What differentiates Dion’s work from the large pool of contemporary makers is his egalitarian approach to material and the aforementioned pragmatism to the
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creation, use, and display of his chosen materials and objects. His relationship with glass epitomizes this refreshing method. Dion has a long-standing relationship with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)’s glass department. He recounts his earliest attempts at making work with glass in the 1990s at RISD. “I remember not really understanding the medium at all. I wanted to make a giant jellyfish. I would say that this was a super interesting disappointment. I didn't get what I wanted because I didn't really understand the medium. It was also really interesting because, and this is different from the way I usually work, you can spend two days working and get nothing out of that time, nothing worth keeping. I think that really put glass in perspective for me. The next project I did was to try to build enormous glass domes and that was successful.” During the summer of 2016, he was one of the Artists-in-Residence at Pilchuck Glass School. In this program, contemporary makers with no prior glass experience, are paired with experienced gaffers and they work together to create whatever the Artist-in-Residence can dream up. Dion worked with gaffers Dante Marioni and Mike Cozza to try to create-to-scale glass harpoons, based on New Bedford’s history of Yankee whaling traditions. “Even though I had a lot of experience with glass in some ways, I couldn’t really wrap my head around what we were doing. I can see in hindsight that to make these things wasn’t the right project for having Dante as the gaffer. It’s like having the world’s best baseball pitcher and asking him to tend the goal in a hockey game. At a certain point in the session, I switched to making giant elephant bird eggs. In one day, they produced those to impeccable satisfaction.” These anecdotes feel like common experiences in glass. One might come into the studio with an idea, try to produce it, get a hundred things that you hate, or everything breaks. Dion’s introduction to the material was humbling. It demanded him to create a dialogue with the material and determine the common ground between what the artist wants and what the GASNEWS
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Mark Dion, Ship in a bottle. Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles
material wants. Only by creating a project honoring that conversation did he learn how to approach the material in a way that was productive for his practice. Although the learning curve remains steep, Dion returns to glass when his work demands it, pushing the boundaries of both the material and his ideas. His continued relationship with the material could be attributed to the personal relationships he has with a number of his studio assistants that come from the glass world. As anyone who has worked with hot glass knows, it is a material best worked on with a team. It is this collaborative mentality that he attributes to the desirability of ‘glass people’ in his studio. “Glass people are great assistants for me because they are diligent and cooperative,” he explained. “I need people who understand that the work is stronger when everyone works together. People who have worked with glass, in my experience, are more thoughtful, more compassionate, more team oriented. These are the kind of people that I need.” In his studio, Dion will often create projects where a number of people work together on the same piece. One person is not tasked to follow something through from beginning to end, but rather they act as part of a group and everyone participates in the making. This idea that V O L U M E 2 58 , II SS SS U U EE 41
it’s not about the final ownership, it’s about getting the best out of everyone, sounds a lot like running a successful team in the hotshop. “I think glass people have special and very advanced attitudes about art making that more traditional studio people don't have.” Dion’s most recent creations in glass are large scale bell jars fabricated for him at RISD. He created these domes to serve as microscope covers. Objects like these would have been used for keeping salt water and dust off of microscopes for nautical studies in a ship’s laboratory. In April 2017, these jars will be on view in the exhibition “Exploratory Works” at New York City’s Drawing Center. The exhibition was co-curated by Dion, Katherine McLeod, and Madeleine Thompson. While rooted firmly in the contemporary art conversation, Dion’s work is sensitive to glass, a material that connects well to the concepts that drive his practice. Through his comments on material and community, it is clear that he understands the core of what makes glass unique. If his keynote lecture at Norfolk’s GAS conference in June 2017 is anything like his relationship to glass, we are in for an experience of investigation, probing, and delight. Suzanne Peck is an artist, writer, and educator living in Brooklyn, New York.
AGGRESSIVE EXCESS by Ian Messenger Schmidt Glass as an art form developed when artists stepped out of the traditional factory studio and over the last 50 years, the creative expressions by “glass artists” have become much more broad. Artists are taking on new approaches to glass studio practice, including multimedia projects, ethereal work, and performance. Without conforming to the material’s historical precedent, the artist collective Flock the Optic uses glass as the foundation for their creative output. This collective art practice in glass makes sense since working with this material demands collaboration, particularly in the hotshop where a team is required to bring a piece to fruition. Collective art practices in glass offer opportunities that address many problems we face today as young artists. Our speed in communicating and sharing ideas across the globe moves at a rapid pace and we explore various uses of glass in our studios and institutions, one feeding the next. Our notion of authorship has morphed to more collaborative ways of thinking about and making art. As one of the emerging collectives, Flock the Optic explores the spectrum of possibilities for making and crafting in glass. Leaving no stone unturned, the work produced by this group borders on excess and reaches a spectacle that engages audiences beyond the normal showmanship of a glass demonstration. In my conversation with Flock the Optic, I found a group that simultaneously crosses material boundaries and expands the possibilities of how glass is used.
What is Flock the Optic? Flock the Optic is a three-member art collective made up of DJABC (Abram Deslauriers), MC Mummmbles (David King), and Stitch (Liesl Schubel). The word collective stems from the Latin root collect-, meaning “gathered together,” which aptly describes both our group
Flock the Optic performance at The Chrysler Museum, 2016. Photo: Gary Johnson
and our pursuit. We are a trio bound by aesthetics, ideology, and inspiration, focused mainly on cyclical occurrences such as bird migration, rotational mechanics, orbits, group giggle fits, looping beats, and movement through the color wheel.
How was the collective formed? Extraordinary circumstances brought us together. ABC was a small-time DJ working on a Peruvian alpaca farm, spinning both the finest yarn and the phattest beats. Stitch was born under a chromyl moon in a freight car, and made her living patching clothing for wanderlust buskers traveling west. MC Mummmbles emerged from the swamplands of Western Dakota with a rapid comprehension of 90s Magic Eye posters, which garnered him county-wide fame. The Flock met one mid-morning in the flatlands of the Skagit Valley, each arriving independently in response to a newspaper advertisement for experienced astrologists. As they approached each other, an instantaneous rainbow aura appeared around the trio, highlighting them in an intense spectrum wash, as a flock of snow geese flew silently overhead. The trio was momentarily released from gravity and floated together. Since that day, they have been linked telepathically, ornithological, and chronologically. GASNEWS
Does Flock the Optic follow any specific form or approach to performance art? What are your inspirations? Two common threads run between the three of us: extensive training in glassworking and a genuine love of a good beat. These were the initial instigators of our movement into the world of performance. In more and more studios, the hotshop is set up as a stage so that is how we use it. A good dance rhythm is a performance instigator, inciting dance, movement, discomfort, whatever. It was a natural and necessary melding into the world of performance art. Our group practice reaches far and wide in terms of both material and process. Plastic, sound, wood, glass, water, felt, wire, light, steel, paper, mirror, motors, candy, collaging, welding, dancing, zoetrope, coordinated outfits, typewriters, puppetry, improvisational poetry, list making and live DJ sets are just some of the tools in our collective box. We focus in on the arc of the performance and use whatever is necessary to communicate the narrative to the geese in waiting. Our sources of inspiration are snow geese, things that you have to go crosseyed in order to see, Bjork, pop music, Bread & Puppet Theater, the magical natural engineering of the bird feather,
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flight paths, rain, rainbows, moon bows, cosmology, the Wall, misheard former band names, bird feet, gallantry, pond scum, subwoofers, genius, sunsets, honks. We honk loudly in honor of our predecessors in glass performance, The B Team, Burnt Asphalt Family, and Cirque De Verre, among many others. We sent our initial proposal as a group to the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio and acknowledge that without that venue and Charlotte Potter’s vision of a monthly glass performance, the Flock, likely, would have opened an astrology bookstore in Skagit Valley, performing tarot readings and attempting séances to contact Josef Albers to talk about color theory.
Flock the Optic performances seem to have a focus on interacting with the audience. How does viewer participation steer the experience? When one group of geese encounters another, they naturally come together to form a single flock. Though our collective is firmly a trio, we often reach out to audience members or fellow artists to participate as a “guest goose” in a performance. Fluidity in participation is a natural occurrence in any of our performances as it mirrors the fluidity of the animals we are inspired by. It is also a nod to the power of the glass community in itself. You can travel internationally as a member of the glass flock and be welcomed by a shared love for the material. It is a unifying medium.
We seek to be a positive reinforcement of that community. Interactive elements offer a chance for the guest geese to mingle and are intended to make the event FUN! We are makers at heart and want to provide an experience that is more than just watching. Allowing people to contribute by activating sculptures, dancing, using optical devices to alter their perception, take selfies through the distorting lenses all encourage the audience to join us in completing the act. Our use of social media is an extension of this and so is our merchandise. It might be tacky or represent “selling out” to some but we don’t pay any mind to that. We love it when people want to take a little piece of the flock home with them and see us pop up on their dashboards.
What can Norfolk conference attendees expect from your performance, “The Psycho Cycle Migration Experience: A Journey with the Flock?” We must leave you in suspense until June. We constantly develop a performance up until the opening act. We believe that keeping options open allow us the freedom to incorporate as many ideas as possible. We believe in aggressive excess over carefully focused rehearsals. Early on, a few elements constitute the structure that we will build everything off of and other ideas are more improvisational and may be added or adjusted once we are all together
Performance stills from You’ve Gotta Flap Up to Float Down, 2016. Photos: Gary Johnson and Echard Wheeler
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in Norfolk. This keeps things exciting and fresh. We encourage all to attend with a healthy propensity for wide-eyed wonder and a willingness to join our flock, if only for an hour. As makers, we dance within the parameters of what glass can do, hoping to stretch into some new territory. These three artists are reaching the making process into a larger experiential space, adding the ephemeral nature of performance and a multi-sensory approach to a multidisciplinary practice. By working in this collective way, Flock the Optic, and the performance-based groups that preceded it, bring a new perspective and expanding lexicon to the ways we think about glass. As we move through the different styles and techniques of working with glass, it is always the case that the material itself is the performer in the end, the labor of the production has a poetry to it, as well as a choreographed nature. By playing within this space of the labor of production, this group has a set of commentary that both critiques the seriousness of the glass master and emphasizes a notion of communal craft approach. The many hands of making a traditional object are in one performance brought forth as a means of exploring what making glass is, FUN!
Raised in a generation where irony is the rule not the exception, Flock the Optic make an earnest plea for community where engagement is packaged like a brand to be bought into and a party in which to be invited. Their approach raises important questions about the role of makers in our culture. Do their underlying themes hold the kind of weight that an increasingly academic craft movement demands, or are they just out for a good time and a cynical laugh? Does their aesthetic indicate an honest reflection of the glass shop as an environment that provides both makers and audience a reprieve from the seriousness of high art? Is the idea of the “flock” an indictment of a contemporary condition where community is often a digital facsimile suspect to media influence? Flock the Optic certainly acknowledges the importance of community and direct interaction between the makers and their audience. Their practice, like many glass performers before them, values those intimate experiences absent from the presentation of the finished “work.” Ian Messenger Schmidt is a graduate student at Tyler School of Art, who holds a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. He has been involved in the glass arts community since he was 16.
Flocked Prism by Flock the Optic. Photo: Liesl Schubel
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ARTICULATED AIR: SOME THOUGHTS ON MOVEMENT, BREATH, AND IMAGINATION IN GLASS PERFORMANCES
by Stine Bidstrup The forthcoming 46th annual GAS Conference will take place under the heading, Reflections from the Edge: Glass, Art, and Performance. The title tells us that we will find ourselves in a liminal space within glass art and craft, from where we can cast a sidelong glance at the discipline of performance art, now tied to a specific material and, most likely, to the specific location of a hot glass studio. At a time where more and more, often younger, glass artists are attempting to gain foothold within an expanded notion of what glass art can be, what are we to make of glass performance? It is easy to understand why glass, in its molten state, appeals so greatly to a performative framework for an artwork. The material almost self-performs through its emission of heat, light, and instant
Maria Bang Espersen, Craftformation, 2012, still from video. Photo courtesy of Maria Bang Espersen.
response to physical, gravitational forces. Focus is often concentrated on utilizing the elemental “powers” of hot glass processes; fire, fluidity, movement, and breath. It sometimes gets to be very banal when artists, often as students, in their (initial) meetings with hot glass talk again and again about 'freezing' a movement or a moment in time to transport a sensation or emotion from the physical actions of the body to a kind of inner movement, a movement of the soul, encapsulated in glass. Several articles and essays written about Dale Chihuly are accompanied by subtitles paraphrasing the desire to breathe life into glass: “Breathing form into fire” 1 or “The fluid breath of glass.” 2 This sounds like the ultimate artist fantasy with barely concealed religious undertones. Imagine being able to apply wet paint onto a canvas using nothing but one’s breath as a direct reflection of GASNEWS
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one’s thoughts, and to freeze it there for all eternity. But rather than becoming bored with a repeated motif, let us do a closer examination of it though the classical art historical method of reaching back in history. Where does all the fuss about movement and breath originate from? Is it possible, or useful, to speak of an art historical source for this fascination in order to substantiate an underlying archetypical image or expression jumping across disciplines and eras in an unchronological, paradigmatic way? And most importantly, what affect in the viewer or participant does it evoke? The German art historian and cultural theorist Aby Warburg (1866-1929) researched the legacy of the Classical World, and the transmission of classical representation, in varied areas of western culture through the Renaissance. Warburg
placed the wind, or air, at the center of his investigation of the art of the Italian Renaissance. The French art historian Georges Didi-Huberman (b. 1953) reminds us in the essay “The Imaginary Breeze: Remarks on the Air of the Quattrocento” 3 of this archetypical image that has resonated throughout history, particularly in Renaissance painting. He describes how elevating the air to a cause of motive for the painting, as an external cause of the image, reinvented the entire way of seeing antiquity and the Renaissance, placing bodily motion and the displacements of affects at the center of our perception. Mobilizing air had become a tool or vehicle for conveying pathos – pathosformel as Warburg coined it. Warburg wanted to analyze both the formulaic aspects of this vehicle with the potential for repetition, and its dynamic aspects with their liberating potential. In Sandro Botticelli's famous painting Primavera (ca.1482), also known as Allegory of Spring, the Greek god of the west wind Zephyrus, is seen chasing the nymph Chloris, while blowing his wind or supernatural breath at her so that she transforms into the goddess Flora. Zephyrus breathes the breath of life into
her and creates a space for transformation where her untapped potential is brought to life. The wind does more than just pass over the material; it transforms, it metamorphoses, it touches. Renaissance men adopted an entire psychology of air in order to justify certain mysteries of the psychology of art, such as when the Italian art historian Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) tried to explain why the Roman air was better suited to Michelangelo’s Florentine genius. This psycho-physiology of air we know from Marcel Duchamp’s Air de Paris (50 cc of Paris Air) (1919), where glass acts as a portable, souvenir-style container for genuine Paris air. In none of these examples is air the natural element, which we breathe without being aware of it. It is a metaphysical substance, in the same way as glass in performance works becomes imbued with magical powers. American artist Charlotte Potter’s participatory performance series entitled Bottled Emotion (2008-2012) pays homage to this very Duchampian artifact. Participants are invited into the hot glass studio to expire their emotions into a mask attached to a blowpipe, which gives shape to the mass of molten glass. After, they were given the opportunity to keep their bottled
Charlotte Potter, Bottled Emotion, 2008-12, materials: glass, performance, video of event, dimensions variable. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Potter
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Anna Viktoria Norberg, My Breath Inside/Inside My Breath, installation, 1997, blown glass, breath. Photo courtesy of www.avnstudio.com
emotion transformed into a small object. The beauty of a shape in movement is striking in Danish artist Maria Bang Espersen’s video work Craftformation and her performance Dance of Completion, both from 2012. She uses compressed air to dramatically expand a small gather of glass at the end of a blowpipe into a swirling, anti-gravitational spiral that holds its form until it has to give in to the pressure and literally explode. Even though nothing is concealed in the creation, it seems to almost appear from a mix of actual and imagined air. Just like in Renaissance painting where hair turns into flames and branches into snakes, the transfiguration of matter is happening right before our eyes. Swedish artist Anna Viktoria Norberg’s installation My breath inside/inside my breath (1997) consists of head sized glass bubbles hung at head level throughout a space. The material description for the piece reads “blown glass, breath.” 4 The work attempts at visualizing breath itself by referring to its own making, the glassblowing, and the workings of air as an animating element that bridges and binds individuals to both internal and external forces. American artist Michael Scheiner’s Sheer Volume (2010) is described on the website of the Corning Museum of Glass as a shadow volume that does not really exist. GASNEWS
The piece hangs in the transparent space of glass. Although the conceptual background for the piece stems from elsewhere, from the process of translating the contours of a specific rock, the phenomenological affect of an ephemeral fleeting volume is powerful. The words respiration and inspiration both have root in the Latin word spirare. Breathing consists of a rhythmic, circular movement of inflation and deflation. Notions of presence, circulation, interconnection, transformation, and receptivity can be connected to breath. The long history of engagement with this element as it has been used to signify and enhance the interception of signs, dreams, and voices in performance, sculptural media, and other disciplines is a poetics of critical voicing and un-voicing. The process becomes charged with power and presence, and the breath of fresh air reminds us that we have the freedom to choose a path to connect with our audiences. Stine Bidstrup is an artist and educator living in Copenhagen, Denmark. www.stinebidstrup.dk 1. Arts Journal. (March 1979), p. 26-27. 2. Craft Horizons. 31, no. 6 (December 1971), pp. 22-25. 3. Journal of Visual Culture. Vol. 2 No. 3, (2003), pp. 275-289. 4. www.avnstudio.com/art_graduate.htm
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MAKING THINGS WITH WORDS by Anna Riley
Jocelyn Prince, Glory Studies. Photo: Katie Pinette.
Glory hole, flashing, jacking, jack and crack, necking, juicy, hot bit, strap, paddle the bottom, moil, knob, bonk off, strip off, strip gather, marver tart (muffin), double dip, blowpipe, blow partner, blow softer, blow harder. What do we love about our glass studio jargon? Well, our language is funny, provocative and peculiar. It is the trade specific language of expertise, and it is ours. We can use these words with precision and see a layer of meaning in them that nonglassblowers do not see. More often than not, the words seem sexual even though the sexuality of the term does not always create a direct parallel to the copulative counterpart (“blow harder” is probably not a command you have encountered in bed). What do we think about this language founding our artistic relationship to the material? If we were to write a Richard Serra-style “Verb List Compilation” for the glassblowing studio, it might read like a sexy to-do list: to strip, to blow, to jack it in, to paddle the bottom, to open the lip, to bonk off. If these are “Actions to Relate to Oneself,” the subtitle of Serra’s list – verbs marrying artist, gesture, and material – what position are we submitting ourselves to within this field of language?
In their upcoming lecture “Blow Harder: An Exploration of Language, Sexuality & Gender in the Glassblowing Studio” Karen Donnellan and Suzanne Peck will unpack the lexicon of the glassblowing studio, beginning with the question: Is it sexual? If so, how? Why? Through a combination of etymological research at the Corning Museum’s Rakow Library and, specifically in regard to American hotshops, interviewing our community and Studio Glass Movement elders, their investigations move to define and interpret, as educators, artists, and women. Donnellan and Peck see this research moving in a number of directions including as a point of departure for self-analytic conversation amongst our community. This conversation raises several questions that seem particularly pertinent. If we agree the language is sexual, is this problematic? Born out of a dominantly masculine craft history, is the glassblowing vocabulary patriarchal and misogynistic? Is it antifeminist? Is it possible that these words sow seeds that affect the entire timeline of one’s relationship with glass as a material? In short, does the sexualized language become a self-selecting tool deterring GASNEWS
certain students, particularly those who are non-gender conforming or perhaps just shy, who might otherwise be interested in using the material? In my interview with Donnellan and Peck, Peck offered this synopsis of their thinking: “This is the core language that we are all taught, and in its definitive usage it is not a problem because it is defining objects and actions that are not necessarily sexualized, that in fact are not sexual.” They are, instead, Peck argues, descriptive and referential, pointing toward actions and processes specific to the hotshop. “But because of their associations,” she says, “English speakers can connect them to sexualized things. There is a layer of problematizing here. Problems for both women and men.” By proposing alternative vocabulary and encouraging our community to be imaginative with our language, Donnellan and Peck think they can make the hotshop a welcoming space for more people. “If there is a suite of vocabulary choices that you could use in place of ‘blow harder’ that you automatically go to because the lexicon has been expanded, then all of a sudden the field becomes richer,” Peck says. Although they’re not against sexualized language in the hotshop, Donnellan and Peck want to imagine an alternative and playful vocabulary that does not flow from a predominantly male perspective. Among many linguistic alternatives their lecture will propose a feminist vocabulary for the hotshop, not as the end-all solution but to start a conversation and spark the collective imagination of our community. They hope to collect our community’s linguistic history, ideas, and opinions through a survey that is included at the end of this article. We have seen projects that have manipulated glass language in meaningful ways. Jocelyne Prince’s 2015 performance “Glory Studies of Unexplained Events” (among its many peculiar and multi-sensory actions) acknowledges the word “glory”
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as both the absurd title of our reheating equipment, and recognizes the chamber as a space of awe, warmth, and light; an incubator for growth. As an educator myself, I am keenly curious to see what Donnellan and Peck produce. In the past few months, I’ve taken pleasure in reimagining certain hotshop actions through a fluid and maternal lens (the bubble is crowning, the furnace is the mother, or ‘give me air’ rather than ‘blow’). The glassblowing studio is rich with this potential. It is clear to me that attention to language, even in our small glassblowing community, has the potential to be a revolutionary gesture for a number of reasons. It is undeniable that language plays a significant role in molding perception. Those who are in control of language are therefore in control of perception, an extraordinary place to be as educators translating this material-knowledge to a wider audience. To be responsible, enlightened knowledge-conduits, this requires sensitivity to word choice. Our status as “glassblowers” rather than “glassmen,” is, at least, already presented as gender-neutral. We are, however, “craftsmen,” a term that was appropriate when only men were permitted into craft guilds. Pilchuck Glass School calls their gaffers “Craftspersons-inResidence” and has a notably all-female gaffer line-up this summer. “The [all-woman] gaffer team is one way of shifting the conversation. It had to be a gesture like this. Why wouldn’t it be all women? It is not an ultimate solution, but it’s the beginning of a conversation that is way overdue,” Donnellan says. “The whole field of glass is stuck in the 60’s compared to the rest of the art field. Why aren’t we questioning the status quo? A lot of responsibility is on institutions and educators. It is getting better, but there is still more work to do. It is our job to do the prodding and make sure the conversation happens.” Donnellan’s point rings to my ears as a call to action. How do we make things GASNEWS
that reflect our open and inclusive thought processes while working within an environment that might not wholly embody principles of equality? How can we re-define the space for our own purposes and for a new generation? Give it an inclusive and progressive language? “Increasingly, students identify as nonbinary, gender queer, or trans and that’s where the problem is becoming more acute. The language doesn’t necessarily make everyone feel welcome in those studios. We want as much inclusivity as possible,” Donnellan says, “Right now my students are a majority of girls. Even the architecture of the studio affects your relationship with the material. It is not uncommon for a studio’s equipment to be designed for the body of a man, but this architecture is shifting and along with that the language should shift too.” I think it is a meaningful gesture to revise the common lexicon to reflect these concerns – to open up space for women, trans, queer – but also to promote creativity within the rich and textured expanse of the English language. Making the field richer is perhaps the most exciting notion of their proposal. “Addressing glassblowing from a linguistic perspective and tying that into gender politics and the problematizing of space feels important,” Peck says. “Particularly when looking towards phrases like ‘grab them by the pussy.’ That is about as ineloquent linguistically as it is problematic sexually.” Donnellan and Peck’s approach to language embodies a true notion of feminism; they embrace inclusivity and openness to difference and change. Please participate in Karen Donnellan and Suzanne Peck’s “Glass and Language Survey,” to inform and support their research of language, gender and sexuality in the hot glass studio. https://www. surveymonkey.com/r/blowharder Anna Riley is an artist and educator residing in Brooklyn, New York.
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VIRGINIA IS FOR GLASS LOVERS by Michael Hernandez
We Can Create What We Can Imagine, located at 814 Granby Street, celebrates the arts and Norfolk’s history and coastal environment. Mural by Esteban del Valle and Julia Rogers. Photo: Echard Wheeler
Norfolk, Virginia is the host city for the 46th Glass Art Society Conference Reflections from the Edge: Glass, Art, and Performance. The city has a long, storied past while providing a vibrant path for the future of glassmaking. From the historic glassmaking at Jamestown to the progressive model of the Chrysler Museum and its Perry Glass Studio, this area has a great deal to offer nearly every interest in glass art. Norfolk is a model of urban community growth and revitalization driven by the arts. The Norfolk GAS conference committee has put a focus on organizing venues and events that highlight the city’s history and revitalization alike. A few miles up the James River from Norfolk, the first attempt at a product industry began in the New World. Jamestown was the site of the first glassblowing factory, that, despite its demise, began this historic industry in our country. Glassblowing continued, though a few business ventures failed due to a host of unforeseen obstacles involved with
settling a new land. At the conference, look forward to the historic Jamestown Glassblowers demonstration of periodstyle glassmaking. Norfolk is home to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Its collection was amassed largely by Walter P. Chrysler Jr., son of the great American automotive industrialist, who from a young age was interested in art. He traveled the world, meeting artists and collecting a wide range of styles and historical periods in art. The museum houses a large encyclopedic collection with over 10,000 works in glass. On view at the Chrysler Museum there will be exhibitions that span a wide range of artistic approaches with glass. Pilchuck Prints is a large-scale exhibition of print works, using various glass plate printing techniques from the school’s nearly thirtyyear history of artists. This rare facet of the school’s history is represented by works ranging from Hank Adams to Mona Hatoum. Concurrently, the mesmerizing mirror works of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian
will be on display. These highly-detailed, geometric sculptures recall the complex architectural tile works from the artist’s native country, Iran. Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings, 1974–2014 provides a look into the artist’s extensive career developed through great adversity. Also on view will be recent acquisitions from artists including Paul Marioni, Mark Zirpel, Liza Lou, and Amber Cowan. The Chrysler’s Perry Glass Studio will be the main venue for conference demonstrations. The Studio opened its doors in 2011, with a progressive model for programming. As many of us have seen through social media, the space is dedicated to promoting performative approaches in the glass studio. The Third Thursday performances are immersive, choreographed events geared toward exploring a range of investigations and experiences. With the Perry Glass Studio as the stage, artists utilize the processes, production, and activity of a hotshop to achieve spectacle. The addition of performances to the conference will
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, b. 1924) Third Family - Heptagon, 2011, Mirror, reverse-glass painting, and acrylic, 46 x 47.5 x 8", © Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery, San Francisco. Photo: Robert Divers Herrick
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Tom Moore with Chrysler Museum’s hot shop team in full costume at NEON Arts District. Photo: Echard Wheeler
increase the scope of the already highcaliber line-up of demos, lectures, and panels. These events will fill out the days (and into the nights), giving the uninitiated a look into the range that glass-based performance art has become. While there is a great deal to look forward to in both conference and museum programming, a rich experience awaits in downtown Norfolk. In recent years, this city has undergone a significant urban revitalization. Abandoned buildings have turned into galleries, comedy clubs, cafes, and restaurants. Norfolk is a model of urban renewal. Notably a walking city, hitting the streets of Norfolk on foot is the best way to experience its unique art scene. A major part of the city’s revitalization is an embrace of the arts. The NEON (New Energy of Norfolk) District is host to public art and wall murals that are prominently featured throughout downtown. While some are large beacons, others can be discovered in alleys and side streets. Play Me, I’m Yours is the title of a public art project by artist Luke Jerram, known in the glass world for his models of deadly viruses
and bacteria strains. This touring project places pianos throughout the downtown area for the community to play and enjoy. Norfolk will host this project during the GAS conference, with scheduled musicians and impromptu ivory strokers to take part in making music in the street. The uniquely decorated pianos will double as wayfinding markers for conference venues. Its unique place in the history of glass in America and the progressive, revitalized model of downtown makes Norfolk an ideal GAS conference city. The Chrysler Museum is only one of the many attractions and venues in the area where attendees will experience public art, gallery and museum shows (including the GAS Juried Member Exhibition at Glass Wheel Studio), artist spaces, and events. This conference is sure to be an incredible one to remember. Michael Hernandez is an artist and Assistant Professor/Head of Glass at Palomar residing in San Marcos, California.
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WONDERFUL MECHANISMS: ENGAGING AUDIENCES WITH GLASS ENGINES by Rebecca Hopman marked the beginning of a new trend in glassworking shows. Consider, for a moment, how magical a glass steam engine would have seemed to a 19th-century audience. Made of hundreds of small pieces, this colorful, moving machine was dazzling. It was art combined with industry, an unexpected way to demonstrate the capabilities of steam during a time when actual steam engines powered the world. A contemporary poem, composed in honor of this achievement, gives you an idea of viewers’ reactions:
Detail from a pamphlet advertising a glass blowing exhibition, 1904, CMGL 131361. Courtesy of The Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York.
When Bandhu Dunham first learned of the glass steam engines made during the 19th century, he was hooked. The engines were built by itinerant glassworkers, who traveled the world demonstrating lampworking and glass spinning, and creating fantastical models and machines to draw in their audiences. Dunham, who aspired to be a mad scientist as a kid, had found a new experiment to try. His inclination towards kinetic contraptions drove him to make his own engines, while also taking the time to investigate the history of their predecessors. The tradition of lampworking demonstrations dates back hundreds of years. As early as the 1670s, traveling glassworkers were gathering crowds in towns across Europe. Their shows were typically centered around their demonstrations, but also included a display of models and scientific (sometimes, pseudo-scientific) experiments. Audience members could see Cartesian
divers (also known as bottle imps or water devils), hydrostatic balloons, models of famous ships, and – my personal favorite – a hydraulic skeleton that showed how the circulation system worked. They often left with a small glass trinket (included in the price of admission), although they could also purchase a dizzying array of products, anything from models of animals, carriages, and fountains, to vases, spun glass feathers, and pens. The essential elements of itinerant glassworkers’ demonstrations remained the same for close to 300 years, but these showmen (and women) were constantly looking for new ways to outperform their competition. George Woodroffe, one of three brothers who formed a series of successful traveling troupes, is said to have initially conceived the idea of a steam engine made from glass during a trip he took with his father across Europe. The engine’s completion around 1848 GASNEWS
“When will wonders cease, we may justly enquire, / When we see a Glass Engine, complete and entire, /... Incredulity starts, in most utter surprise, / We can hardly believe the plain sight of our eyes, /... The steam from the boilers sends life to the heart, / And life it goes bounding throughout every part. / Then, hail to the progress of science and skill, / From whose storehouse such wonders are forthcoming still.” 1 Woodroffe is credited for building several steam engines, including the Fairy Queen and the Crystal Gem. They soon spawned many imitators, among them the Saratoga, the Corliss, the Queen of Beauty, and General Garfield. Every troupe seemed to have their own, and all proclaimed that their engine was the most superior and spectacular of the bunch. Throughout the 19th century and into the first decades of the 20th century, itinerant glassworkers and their steam engines traveled from town to town, fascinating audiences along the way. However, like many traveling acts, their livelihoods were impacted by the spread of mass entertainment and faster, cheaper travel options. Audiences who once congregated in town halls and private homes to watch glassworkers form molten glass into every conceivable form now spent their money on cars, radios, movies,
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and televisions. Those glassworkers that kept performing often attached themselves to circuses, World’s Fairs, or started their own, stationary tourist attractions. Today, Bandhu Dunham helps keep the spirit of these glassworkers and their steam engines alive. His glass engines, marble machines, and automata sculptures embody the magic and whimsy of those early mechanical models. They spin, twist, seesaw, and whirl in mesmerizing fashion, captivating viewers much like the original Fairy Queen and Crystal Gem. Dunham also teaches others how to make their own kinetic machines in workshops throughout the United States and internationally. He acknowledges the history and tradition behind his modern interpretations in several volumes of his Contemporary Lampworking guides, which are among the most-used technique books in the Rakow Library’s collection. Dunham is presenting a lec-mo at this year’s GAS conference in Norfolk, titled “Kinetic Glass as Performative Object.” He plans to talk about “interactivity as a kind of audience participation performance” in his kinetic pieces as well as those of other artists. In addition, Dunham will explore how moving sculptures simulate the artist’s experience of working with hot glass.
If you would like to see Dunham’s kinetic work in person, one of his engines, The Crystal Gem, will be on display in the Rakow Library’s upcoming exhibition, Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library (April 8, 2017 - February 17, 2019). Surrounding the engine will be some of the itinerant glassworker advertisements and photographs that inspired Dunham’s kinetic creations. To learn more about itinerant glassworkers, please visit http://libguides.cmog.org/itinerant. Curious and Curiouser explores our unique collection, and how artists, scientists, and writers have used it to inform and inspire their work. From a patent for preserving the dead in glass to coded batch books, this two-year exhibition will showcase many of the Rakow Library’s unusual items. Learn more about the exhibition at https://www.cmog.org/ collection/exhibitions/curious-andcuriouser-surprising-finds-rakow-library. Rebecca Hopman is the Outreach Librarian at The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass 1. Somers, William R. The glass steam engine. [Bridgeport, CT ]: Pomeroy & Morse, steam printers, [between 1855 and 1870].
The earliest known image of a steam engine. “Woodroffe's glass steam engine,” Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1858, CMGL 161820. Courtesy of The Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York.
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THE INTERLAYER: PERSPECTIVES OF GRAAL GLASS:
SYMPOSIUM WITH MASTER CLASSES BILD-WERK FRAUENAU OCTOBER 2016 by Shane Fero
Student Emi Hirose views her Graal at the bench. Photo: Michal Poustka
The “Interlayer ”~“In-Between” is the process of applying decoration to a glass blank with painted or screen printed enamels, engraving, sandblasting, flameworking images and figurative sculptures, pâte de verre, etching, and cutting before being cased with clear glass. These are many of the techniques applicable to the Graal process. Graal has been used in various ways throughout glass history, most notably by the master glassblower Knut Bergqvist (1873-1953) and artist-designer Simon Gate (18831945) of Orrefors Glassworks in Sweden in 1916. Since then, many artists have devised variations of this interlayer technique. Some notable glass artists that come to mind are John Brekke, Ulrica Hydman-Vallien, Duncan McClellan, Mark Peiser, Scott Chaseling, Lucio Bubacco, Michael Joplin, and Emilio Santini.1 My friend and colleague, Robert A. Micklesen, began using sandblasting techniques with borosilicate blanks. His influence resulted in many flameworkers appropriating these techniques for the functional art industry today. Graal is a
Hotshop Technician Marcus Marshmann pressing in flameworked figures for student Brigitte Neusser’s piece. Photo: Michal Poustka
widely used technique common for portrayal narrative and decorative imagery in glass. Bild-Werk Frauenau is an enchanting summer school located in Frauenau, Germany. Established by European Studio Glass pioneer Erwin Eisch 30 years ago, it is based on the concept of American schools such as Penland School of Crafts and Pilchuck Glass School. Students and instructors from all over the world participate in intensive workshops in various media. What makes it appealing, beyond the caliber of teachers, is the relative cost of enrollment and its location. Bild-Werk is in the Bavarian Forest glass zone. This rich, historic area is home to glass factories, artists, and the Glasfachschule Zwiesel (Glass Technical School). The charming village and its surrounding forest, located near the Czech border, make it an idyllic setting. Since the 1980s, Bild-Werk Frauenau has also organized and hosted international symposia. Last fall, Bild-Werk hosted a symposium comprised of a colloquium and six Master Classes providing perspectives and practical workshops designed to reinvigorate GASNEWS
various techniques of Graal processes. This was dovetailed by a project with a network of European Engravers, which travelled to various venues throughout Europe including exhibitions and demonstrations from 2015 and 2016. In July 2016, while teaching in BildWerk, I was able to see the exhibition at the Eisch Gallery and the Glass Museum in Frauenau. In the exhibit at the Eisch Gallery, German engraver Wilhelm Vernim presented a lecture on the project and the processes involved. There were examples in the exhibition of Graal pieces that were painted and engraved and this all made for a good foretaste to the Graal Symposium and Workshops at Bild-Werk Frauenau. The vision of Bild-Werk’s Board of Directors was to bring a focus and perspective on the Graal process, beginning with its history, then fostering experimentation with other glass techniques in innovative ways. The event commenced with a day of lectures at the Glass Museum delivered by Dr. Gunnel Holmér (The Swedish Glass Museum, Växjö, Sweden), Charles Hajdamach
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GLASHAUS The International Magazine of Studio Glass
Engraving Instructor Christian Schmidt carving at the lathe. Photo: Michal Poustka
Student Emma Mackintosh’s flameworked Graal. Photo: Photo: Ward
(formerly Broadley House Glass Museum, Stourbridge, England), Dr. Jitka Lněničková speaking on behalf of Dr. Milan Hlaveš (Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, Czech Republic), Yann Grienenberger (Centre International de l'Art des Verriers, Meisenthal, France), Susanne Jøker Johnsen (Bornholm Art Museum, Denmark), and Dr. Katharina Eisch-Angus (Bild-Werk Frauenau e.V., Glaskörper Kulturverein e.V.). The lectures were followed by a lively panel discussion that dealt with the Eastern-Bavarian glass crisis, the closing or moving of glass factories, and a dialogue of perspectives on Bavarian glass industries and glass artists. Included in the panel were Michael Adam (district administrator, Network Glass), Dr. Gunnel Holmér (art historian, Sweden), Hans Reiner Meindl (glass manufacturer, Lamberts), Max von Schnurbein (glass manufacturer, Theresienthal); Hans Wudy (director of the Zwiesel Glass College, Network Glass), and moderated by Heidi Wolf (Bavarian Broadcasting). I was impressed with the organization and the professionalism of
the symposium, complete with translators in a booth. Offered to attendees were headphones with different frequencies to complement the various languages being translated simultaneously, which was an effective and welcome touch. The Master Classes were freehand overlay engraving with Christian Schmidt, Germany; enamel painting with Vic Banforth, England; silk screening on glass with Sue Woolhouse, England; sculptural cutting and Ariel (an air trap technique) with Franz Xaver Höller, Germany; hot printing with Anne Petters, Germany, and flameworked imagery taught by yours truly. All classes were directed toward various approaches to Graal. The workshops were set up for students to learn specific Graal techniques. Student work was completed in the hotshop with the expertise of studio glass masters Torsten Rötzsch, Marcus Marschmann, Jan Vyskocil, and Hans Auerbech, under the direction of Heinz Fischer, with assistance in the cold shop from Niko Klaus. These craftsmen would complete the Graal pieces picked up from the preheating kilns and
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German/ English, 4 issues p.a. 49 Euros Dr. Wolfgang Schmölders Glashaus-Verlag, Stadtgarten 4 D-47798 Krefeld (Germany) Email: glashaus-verlag @ t-online.de Web: http://studioglas.jimdo.com
subsequently blown to the desired form. The resulting distortions, combined with the aesthetic of the thick glass overlay, are one of the distinctive features of Graal. Techniques of creating inner layers by engraving, lathe-cutting glass sculpturally, enamel painting, silk screening, hot printing, and flameworking made for an intriguingly focused and intensive experience. The interaction between the students, instructors, hotshop team, and staff resulted in a very experimental and rewarding session. When I was asked to participate as an instructor by Mark Angus, I was unsure of exactly how I wanted to proceed. Using flameworked imagery on hot glass has been a technique I have used forever. In the case of our class, we were not provided with glass blanks blown at the furnace as they would probably be too unwieldy and thick for our purposes. Starting from a flameworked blank was something I had wanted to pursue so I asked that tubing be pulled from the furnace by the hotshop team beforehand to maintain compatibility with all glasses that we would be using. In this way, we could decorate the tubes with powders, drawings, shards, and painting with glass enamels fired on directly in the flame.
The final shaping is essential for a suitable Graal cup to be picked up. Although it was slightly difficult due to the variance of wall thickness, it could be adjusted by twisting the wall until it was relatively uniform, and everything worked quite well. Other students used sculptural techniques to make webbed sculptures and flattened figures to be picked up on a pastorale. Both of these approaches turned out to be successful in creating a flameworked Graal. The historical developments of the Graal technique provided artists and designers a means to utilize the narrative and decorative possibilities in the interlayer of glass. These were the foundation for research, experimentation, and innovations discussed and explored at the “Perspectives of Graal Glass” Symposium. This experience will last to influence the focus and interpretation of Graal techniques in the glass art community.
GAS RESOURCE LINKS To access the Glass Art Society’s up-to-date resources, just click on the links below.
Shane Fero is a studio artist at Penland School of Crafts and Past President of the Glass Art Society (2006-2010). He has participated in exhibitions, symposiums, teaching, and lecturing worldwide. 1. Apologies, there are so many more artists to mention here that use these techniques in its various incarnations.
CLASSES EXHIBITIONS AND WORKSHOPS CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS
CALLS TO ARTISTS
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