I began working with glass in 1989 shortly after graduating with a master’s degree in architecture. I worked as an assistant for an experienced glass artist, and also took evening classes at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. In the first 10 years of my work, I pursued glass arts as an avocation while I was building my career in architecture. My work during this period was sculptural and experimental. While I devoted much time to learning the craft, practicing the basic functional vessels, and learning various aspects of technique, I committed a portion of each work session at the furnace to discovery of the plastic qualities of hot glass. In this way I was able to make progress in both skill and personal expression.
At some point around the year 2000, my professional responsibilities in architecture had become all consuming of my time, and I took a break from glass making. While I was getting the opportunity to design and build many buildings, I made glass only occasionally while conducting my duties as an associate principal in a growing practice. The economic crash of 2008 dramatically reduced work and opportunity in architecture. I decided to take a break from corporate practice. I soon returned to the passions of glass making, and have since been working as a studio artist, instructor, and demonstrator at Third Degree Glass Factory.
Presently my work in glass arts is focused on both design and discovery. Therefore I am concerned with building mastery in the craft through the development and production of innovative glassware, all the while searching for the forms, colors and compositions that clearly express my particular obsessions. These include a love of platonic geometry, space and patterns; a paradoxical affinity with the fluid and chaotic form of hot glass; and entranced interest in vivid, saturated colors. I delight in making things that are useful and beautiful, but also love making sculptural and imaginative objects that are open to impressions and interpretation.
Well, what is it?
This is my all time favorite question. I am often asked this by people who are looking at the sculpture that I make. It is really a great question and I feel that it indicates a high level of engagement between the viewer and the Work. If someone asks that question, I suppose that on some level the piece they are examining has fired their imagination, possibly in an unexpected way, evoking a memory or association that prods the viewer towards validation.
I must confess that I am the least interested in answering this question. I usually answer with the question, “What do YOU think it is?’ I get the most surprising answers, and rarely does a viewer suggest the very inspiration that I am working from. That’s okay. It is enough for me that someone has been able to see an object I have made and forge a connection with it on their own. If an object presents some quality that is true, it has the power to touch what is common within the human imagination. This is, for me, the most motivating force in making expressive sculptural work.
When I am thinking about what it is I may want to make with glass, it not as if I’m looking for something real to reproduce using glass. The material is so amazing that it certainly can be used to make very detailed representational objects. My focus lies somewhere in the vast territory between “copy” and “inspiration”. All I want to do is convey the essential qualities of what I see and experience in the world. Whatever inspires me I study and take into my own imagination. When I work, I work to express these things with an intuitive response through the glass. While I of course labor with technique, experiment, failure, and evolution I try to avoid getting fixated on specific details of what is seen, and work to reveal something of what the glass can do and what my hands are capable of. I hope that those who examine my work will have a lively and imaginative experience viewing and interacting with the objects I have presented.