Tell us about yourself.
Hi! My name is Mariah Armstrong (Conner), an artist and educator based in San Diego, California. My background was in painting, drawing, and ceramic sculpture, but after completing my BA (College of Idaho, 2007) I finally had the opportunity to take a hot shop class at Palomar College, and fell into the glass vortex! In 2018 I finished my MFA at Cal State, San Bernardino, and have since been helping to assemble a 2500 sq. ft. glass and ceramic mosaic of California sea life for the Walter Munk Foundation For The Oceans.
What draws you to the material you work with?
Glass is my favorite material because it interacts with light in such a dynamic way, and its optical properties can both complicate and clarify what we see through it. I enjoy combining multiple mediums and various glass processes, including creating transparent blown forms and filling them with found plastic marine debris for Tipping Point Project, a series of installations about plastic pollution/climate change. I also love hot sculpting/garage assembly, because of the challenges and comradery that emerge while creating a complex object in the hotshop!
What themes do you pursue in your work, and why have you chosen the processes that you use in your work?
My work explores how humans relate to reality (nature, time, objects) and alludes to precariousness, fragility, the ephemerality of life, and the constant potential for distortion and misperception. I’m influenced by biological forms, geology, archeology and anthropology, plastic objects I find washed ashore, and imaginings of what might eventually become the artifacts of our time.
What is your dream project?
I’m always trying to square my desire to protect our planet with using such an energy intensive material, so I’d say my dream is to help develop more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods for working with glass, both within my own practice and to share with the community.
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
It’s no secret that I love animals, but most don’t know that I had wild rescue pets: a fawn, a chipmunk, and a hummingbird! Also, I’ve kissed a whale.
Why are you a member of GAS?
I really appreciate how GAS helps to connect the coolest (or maybe I should say hottest) people- the international glass community. I haven’t missed a conference for the past 5 years because I learn so much every time, and reconnecting with friends from all over, seeing or assisting with demos, and maybe even catching a glass fashion show, is all too good to pass up!