Former editor of Glass Art magazine Shawn Waggoner interviews internationally respected artists and experts in hot, warm and cold glass.
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Paul Stankard: Celebrating Six Decades at the Torch
This year, flameworking pioneer Paul Stankard will celebrate his 80th birthday. To commemorate more than six decades at the torch, the artist joined Talking Out Your Glass podcast for a return visit featuring a discussion about his contributions to glass and art, including his new book, Inspiration from the Art of Paul J. Stankard: A Window into My Studio and Soul.
Jack Wax, artist and head of the glass department at The Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, wrote the following about Stankard’s latest and fourth book:
“Paul Joseph Stankard is the living master of the art of the botanical paperweight. There ought not to be any argument as to where he stands in the history of this endeavor, an undertaking that dates back to the mid-19th century and the famed Venetian glassmaker Pietro Bigaglia. He has, as a noted autodidact, aimed at elevating the production of these objects to stratospheric heights. His patient and long-term focus on capturing the subtle beauty of blossoms before they fade, and of bouquets that never wilt, has brought to the world marvels of observation, obsession, fixation, and, importantly, of invention. There is a tendency for people to gaze in wonder and become infatuated when encountering “impossible objects” for the first time. This has been his purview.
That said, becoming a master in the world of 21st-century decorative art production might not ensure that your corollary endeavors—writing poetry and laying out the inexorably tied-up nature of beauty’s role in the success of an artwork—needs to be shared with posterity. Stankard’s voice is sincere and heartfelt. His choice of words is deeply weighed, his phrasing and pacing seriously considered. He is, after all, attempting to distill, out of the quickly dispersing mists of creativity, an essence, a tincture that will contain some drops of truth. That can, at times, become a dangerous area to interpret and translate for a broad swath of the population. Being great at one thing in no way guarantees that one is good at another…
If you pick this book up, you will assuredly spend time considering the beauty of Paul Stankard’s botanical images in glass. He is a genuinely passionate, sincerely earnest maker who cares deeply for the natural world and has devoted a lifetime to the true intricacies of what is visible—and what is not—for those who persevere and cultivate what may be revealed in the application of an extraordinarily sustained and amplified focus.”
Considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, Stankard’s work is represented in more than 75 museums around the world. Over his 40-year artistic journey, he has received two honorary doctorate degrees, an honorary associate’s degree, and many awards within the glass community, most recently the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian’s The James Renwick Alliance and the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the UrbanGlass Award—Innovation in a Glassworking Technique.
In 1961, Stankard enrolled in Salem County Vocational Technical Institute’s Scientific Glassblowing program (now Salem Community College). During his subsequent 10-year scientific glassblowing career, fabricating complex instruments was his focus. As head of the glass department at Rohn & Haas in Philadelphia, the artist began experimenting with floral paperweights as a hobby. The work was eventually noticed by art dealer Reese Palley at a craft expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in 1972, Stankard abandoned industry for art.
Stankard’s role as educator includes establishing the flameworking studio at Penland School of Craft, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and serving as a founding board member and President of The Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, New Jersey. The artist taught students in the US at Penland; the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Pilchuck
Between Seeing and Knowing: Collaborative Work by Anna Boothe and Nancy Cohen
Comprised of hundreds of objects fabricated using multiple glass processes, Between Seeing and Knowing is a large-scale, site-specific installation by artists Anna Boothe and Nancy Cohen. The installation is on view now through February 5, 2023 at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin. Created as part of a collaborative residency that took place at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in 2012, the artwork has been previously exhibited at Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Philadelphia’s International Airport.
At its core, Between Seeing and Knowing is the result of both artists’ long-standing interest in and in-depth study of Tibetan Buddhist thangka paintings and the integration of their otherwise very separate studio practices. Thangkas are ordered cosmological paintings, often scrolls, created for the purpose of meditation and composed of numerous visual elements. This installation reinterprets the symbolism in the paintings to create new work that reflects the organizational structure and palette of the paintings, as well as the sense of expansiveness and lack of hard resolution characteristic of Buddhist ideology.
Boothe and Cohen state: “Overall, through this collaboration, its subject matter, and our chosen methodology, we seek to understand, both visually and viscerally, another cultural perspective or expression unlike our own, through our dissection and re-assemblage of elements unique to that culture. Just as collaboration brings forth the opportunity for a deep exchange of ideas and the development of sympathetic approaches to doing what one does, pragmatically and metaphorically, this is our attempt at bridging gaps between cultural approaches to explain the unexplainable.”
With degrees in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design and glass from Tyler School of Art/Temple University, Boothe has worked with glass since 1980. Included in the permanent collections of CMoG, Racine Art Museum and Tacoma Museum of Art, her cast glass work has been exhibited widely, including recently at the Albuquerque Art Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and the Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace in Venice, as well as at several villas in Italy’s Veneto Region.
Boothe taught in Tyler’s glass program for 16 years, helped develop and chaired Salem Community College’s glass art program and has exhibited and/or lectured internationally in Australia, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, as well as at numerous US universities and glass-focused schools. She served on the Board and as President of the Glass Art Society from 1998-2006 and is a former Director of Glass at Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum.
With an MFA in Sculpture from Columbia University and a BFA in Ceramics from Rochester Institute of Technology, Cohen has been working with glass (among other materials) since 1990. Her work examines resiliency in relation to the environment and the human body. Cohen’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States and is represented in collections such as The Montclair Museum, The Weatherspoon Art Gallery, and The Zimmerli Museum. She has completed large-scale, site-specific projects for The Staten Island Botanical Garden, The Noyes Museum of Art, The Katonah Museum, Howard University, and others.
Recent solo exhibitions include Walking a Line at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Chelsea, New York, and Nancy Cohen: Atlas of Impermanence at the Visual Arts Center in Summit, New Jersey. Group exhibitions include All We Can Save: Climate Conversations at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Pennsylvania, and ReVision and Respond at The Newark Museum. Cohen is a 2022 recipient of a Mid-Atlantic Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She currently teaches drawing and sculpture at Queens College.
In a review of Boothe and Cohen’s collaborative project, El
Daniel R. Collins: Documenting Glass History via Film
Daniel Collins has spent more than 20 years directing award-winning documentary films that examine the untold stories of innovative artists, unsung activists, and underground subcultures. He has strong roots in the glass art community, producing work that focuses on both the American Studio Glass movement and the often-misunderstood borosilicate pipe movement. He began his filmmaking career at the Delaware-based nonprofit media initiative Hearts and Minds Film in 2001, founded Dan Collins Media in 2014, and launched Fire Team Films, which focuses exclusively on glass-related content, in 2022.
In October, Collins’ latest film Slinger debuted on Amazon and Vimeo on Demand. Aaron Golbert, aka Marble Slinger, embodies the artistic evolution and cultural revolution of the American glass pipe movement. He began making pipes in the 1990s, learning well-kept craft secrets from a few generous mentors, at a time when making “drug paraphernalia” could still land you in jail. Now, 25 years later, he is revered for his unique and ever-changing pipe aesthetics, his bold forays into the world of pop-art (especially his “Assault Girl” designs; Warhol-inspired mashups of the Morton Salt Logo), and perhaps above all for his documentary film, Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes (2012). This groundbreaking film premiered at the legendary SXSW Film Festival and enjoyed a two-year run as a top-ranked documentary on Netflix, giving audiences around the world the first detailed look into the underground glass pipe subculture.
Says Slinger: “I’ve always seen glass pipe making as an extension of legalization activism, a protest, saying we believe that cannabis is beautiful!”
Slinger studied film at Ithaca College in upstate New York, but when he first glimpsed the mysterious glass pipes that began popping up on Grateful Dead and Phish tour in the mid-90s he was hooked. Devoted to outlaw cannabis culture, and hungry for an alternative to mainstream life, Slinger headed to Seattle to learn the art of pipe making. He has since become an artistic icon in a scene which has turned into a billion-dollar industry. This film tells the story of his life’s journey in a deep, personal way, while following him through a frigid Philadelphia winter as he prepares for a rare solo exhibition in sunny California. Directed by long-time friend and award- winning filmmaker Collins, the film offers a unique glimpse into Slinger’s world, inviting audiences to intimately experience the many challenges an artist faces in the pursuit of passion.
“You don’t need to go to film school, you need to live a life worthy of making a film about:” states Slinger.
Collins is best known in the glass-pipe community for being the editor of Marble Slinger’s opus Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes(2012). He has since gone on to direct three more feature-length glass documentaries: Project 33 (2017): chronicling the work of Oregon Artist Marcel Braun; Art That Gives Back (2023): the story of the Michigan Glass Project, which will release at their event in September 2023; and most recently Slinger (2022): a portrait of the artist who originally introduced Collins to the world of glass art.
Currently in production on two exciting new documentary films about glass, Collins journeyed to the outskirts of Havana to document the nascent studio glass movement in Cuba, and hopes to complete his film, ¡FUEGO! soon.
Find the trailer here: https://youtu.be/UlKsyWLOqkY
Beginning in January 2023, Collins turned his lens on American glass master Paul Stankard, to produce an intimate artist portrait with the help of Stankard’s long-time colleague, David Graeber.
Collins’ work has won many awards, premiered at prestigious festivals, and been distributed internationally. He is also a published poet, recording artist, and faculty member at the traditional-arts nonprofit organization Common Ground on the Hill (McDanie
Ann Wolff: 50 Years of Exploring Identity
With her unique sculptural works, Ann Wolff holds a distinguished place as one of the world’s leading artists working with glass. She applies her strongly personal approach to bronze, aluminum and concrete sculpture, as well as to drawing, pastel work and photography. From April through October 2022, Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, one of Sweden’s most popular art museums, presented a solo exhibition of Wolff’s work in several techniques and media from the year 2000 until the present day. VOGUE Scandinavia nominated the show as one of the 10 best fall exhibitions in Scandinavia. It was also the largest showing of her work presented in Sweden.
Wolff states: “I have seen my works in painting, stone, bronze, concrete, and glass as equal in status. Sometimes I feel that my strongest works might be in paper, charcoal and pastels.”
She continues: “I feel as a human being out of time. The notion of self and hence identity, grips me, disturbs me and motivates me. Everything comes from that. My interest in the self includes the others. It is clear that in the way that one carries out one’s work, something like a self expresses itself. And this self is guided by constantly developing insights. The insights can be very unclear but can still be the inspiration behind a work. I am testing out old questions of identity; be it inside-outside, symmetry, layers and core, number two and the double, the goat and the monkey. Moments of recognition are what my work needs, they propel me forward. Collected moments of clarity become knowledge.”
Born in Germany in 1937, Wolff studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (University of Design and Art) in Ulm, Germany, then worked as a designer in Sweden. For many years, she designed for the Kosta Boda glassworks, during which time she also pursued an independent career as a studio artist. Currently living and working on the Baltic island of Gotland, Sweden, she is the recipient of several internationally prestigious distinctions including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Glass Art Society and the PRO EUROPA Foundation’s European Culture Prize. She has been honored with numerous international awards, among them the renowned Coburger Glaspreis (1977), the Bayerischen Staatspreis (1988), the Jurypreis of the Toledo Museum of Art (2005), and the Award of Excellence of the Smithsonian Renwick Collection, Washington, DC (2008). The Swedish Royal family has acquired several of her works.
As one of the founders of the international Studio Glass movement, Wolff was at the center of attention as early as end of the 1960s. Her initiation into the American Studio Glass movement came at the invitation of Marvin Liposfsky and Dale Chihuly. Early days at Pilchuck sharing ideas and techniques revealed to her a new reality – one in which she was respected as an artist not a designer.
Wolff States: “The Studio Glass movement from the United States burst in on my work – my isolation – in the mid 1960s. I was astonished and thrilled by the freedom with which glass was handled there. An immense curiosity about the unused potential and the broad possibilities of the new material for art: glass. It has to fit into the framework of art in general, though. For me, art is the deciding factor. The path I took shows that I intensely wanted to express my life in pictures, clarify things for myself. Of course, I could have started in a quite different medium – painting, sculpture, film – but it became glass.”
In her 50-year career, Wolff repeatedly created works that made people think. With glass, she allowed the world to glance at her esthetic sentimentality, and she also created homogenous objects. Ever recurring themes predominant in her work are womanhood and habitation expressed through objects that are mostly monochrome, often in warm earthy tones. Dance-theater was a strong inspiration, and she was allowed to attend rehearsals with Pina Bausch, made views from wha
John Sharvin: From Blown Away 3 to Undefined
Exploring the separation between reality and the imaginary through the use of miniatures and glass sculpture, John Sharvin draws the viewer into a new and intimate realm, reminiscent of a shadowbox or dollhouse. These dreamlike worlds create deceptive memories and locations for the viewer to reflect on as recollection of a place or memory is often distorted through the lens of time. One wonders what is conjured and what is true.
Working in glass since late 2008, Sharvin graduated from The Ohio State University in 2012 with a BFA in glass. He stayed in Columbus for a few years working in galleries, doing public glass demonstrations and tutoring students until he took a technician apprenticeship at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) in 2014. There, he curated his first exhibition, Silica Valley, for which he developed a theme, selected the artists, titled the exhibition, and did all of the installation and lighting. The result was a show that revealed the possibilities of combining an ancient material like glass with 21st-century processes like 3D printing.
Utilizing digital fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and CNC milling in his own work, Sharvin creates unique and unexpected forms in glass that include not only surrealist landscapes and motifs, but glass animals infused with detail, realism, and a hint of cuteness. He has exhibited at several galleries including Fuller Craft Museum, Lake Erie Art Museum, and Hawk Galleries, and his work has been published in New Glass Review and Dwell Magazine.
Following two successful seasons of Blown Away, Sharvin applied to be cast in Season 3. Nine other contestants joined him at North America’s largest hot shop in Hamilton, Ontario, to create and exhibit glass work directed by briefs that included topics such as outer space, the circus, and Seven Deadly Sins. In each episode, the glassblowers had to impress the evaluators or risk being eliminated. At stake was a life-changing prize that could send their careers to new heights.
Sharvin states: “Things were not going my way, and I saw this as a great opportunity to change up my life.”
Participating in the six-week show required Sharvin and the other contestants to come up with a fully articulated design, talk about it, write about it and then make it in “the hottest studio” ever. Competing against each other for $60,000 in prizes, the contestants filmed 10 episodes in succession, getting only one day off during the six-week shoot due to the tight production schedule.
Sharvin said: “Being a contestant on Blown Away Season 3 was an incredible experience. It was hot and challenging but was a truly life-changing time for me.”
Leaving his full-time employment at PGC in mid 2022 to be a full-time artist, Sharvin now applies to public art projects and is establishing his CNC mold-making business. His current work is on view now in UNDEFINED, which runs until July 30, 2023, at PGC, along with the work of fellow Blown Away Season 3 contestants John Moran and Minhi England.
In 2021, Sharvin, England, and Moran were gathered in a backstage production set with seven other familiar faces. Each participant was invited to compete hoping to find new opportunities and to open creative pathways into new beginnings. Five weeks later, these three were the remaining finalists. Though Sharvin, England and Moran initially came together as competitors, their shared experiences on the show influenced comradery and mutual support. Since the premiere of the series, they have stayed in touch artistically through PGC’s Artist Residency program, giving them an opportunity to collaborate as artists. This collaborative exhibition contradicts the notion of competition in the glass world.
Nathan Sandberg: Pioneering Vitrigraph Kiln, Techniques, Artwork
Capitalizing on the ways glass can be arranged in and flows from a crucible, Nathan Sandberg creates reproducible decorative cane and murrine using the Vitrigraph Kiln. His work showcases these elements in a variety of artistic applications and furnishings. When not in his North Portland studio creating work or getting ready for an exhibition, Sandberg can be found presenting modern, innovative curriculum in kilnformed glass at a wide variety of studios and schools around the globe.
In 2003, Sandberg received his BFA in glass and ceramics from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. After working at private glassblowing studios and independently furthering his education in kiln-glass, he joined Bullseye Glass Co. in 2005. As a member of the company’s Research & Education team, he taught and developed courses and online educational videos as well as assisted visiting artists. Beginning at the Bullseye factory in 2009, the artist began exploring modern Vitrigraph methods that have become the primary techniques used in the creation of his work.
Sandberg creates glass panes that are full of movement and repeated patterns that gently guide the viewer’s eyes through the work. He states: “Our world is complex. And I realize that occasionally we simply need a pleasant view in order to escape some of the ugliness and take ourselves somewhere healthier, even if only for a moment.”
In 2012, Sandberg founded Nathans LLC. This educational entrepreneurship helped establish him as one of the top kiln-glass educators in the world, sending him on teaching adventures from Santa Fe to Zurich and Australia to Norway. In 2015, Nathans LLC moved out of the basement and into a proper studio space in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. Today, Sandberg uses OnGrade Studio as his home base and can be found there relentlessly producing work for exhibitions and developing new curriculum to teach on the road and online.
Using primarily glass, Sandberg’s installations commonly make use of other materials such as wood, metal and concrete. His artwork can be found in private and public collections around the world and has received critical recognition through awards, exhibitions, and art fairs, including Glazen Huis in Lommel, Belgium, 2nd Place Non-Functional, Academic Award WG@BE3: E-merge, Bullseye Connection Gallery and SOFA Chicago. Sandberg worked with Gabriela Wilson as part of an Instructor Collaborative Residency at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass in September 2019. The duo explored the traditional hot shop methods of pulling cane to compare and contrast the process with Vitrigraph methods.
Currently, Sandberg operates an 8’ x 10’ waterjet two days a week and says this equipment will revolutionize what is possible in kilnformed glass. The artist is also in the design phase of a glass shingle backsplash for a 30-foot-tall residential waterfall project. His artwork will be on view at Guardino Gallery in Portland in September 2023 and in October at the Pittsburgh Glass Center with Amanda Simmons, Nancy Callan, Mel Douglas and Corey Pemberton in an exhibition titled Pattern.
Great art podcast!
Love this show! Great conversations for anyone who loves art, glass or artists! Amazing questions that bring forth unexpected answers from the artists.
A valuable catalog of conversations
Going forward, these great conversations with glass artists will serve as a record of their work- and glass’ role in the art world at large.
If you enjoy glass art this is a nice and easy listen. The interviews are always informative and the speaker is really responsive.