Glass

Artist’s Statement

This body of work explores the power of the human figure in composition, drawing particular inspiration from the Italian tradition.  Glassblowing has provided excellent subject-matter which satisfies my creative appetite to explore physicality, intense color and contrast, and narrative possibility.   I have used my inside perspective as a student of glass to inform and construct my paintings.  My focus on glassblowing is both physical and thematic.  I crushed clear glass into “frit,” and mixed it with oil medium, which I used to glaze over the lights and skin of the figures in my paintings.  This sparkles upon viewing, further expressing my desire to represent the human body as a source of infinite intrigue and power.

 

Mírame (“look at me” in Spanish) is an exploration of design and color, incorporated into one powerful image.  I aimed for this work to both encapsulate my figural training and prepare me for handling the color and light in what would become elemental in my glassblowing paintings.  I aim for this painting to radiate with the power and complexity of the individual and present a visual duality, dichotomized in the central shadow by two different sources of light.  The white light illuminates the right side of her Mírameface, revealing details in the skin, hiding nothing nor attempting to.  The red glow on the other side of her face obscures most of the detail and so the result is a generalized impression of the form.  Two light sources, one revealing truth and one obscuring it.  Through this painting, I aim to depict this duality and how the need for both is fundamental to the human spirit.

 

When I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this January, I was captivated by the painting Midas Washing at the Shores of the Pactolus by Bartolemeo Manfredi, an early follower of Caravaggio.  The painting features a single figure which dominates the composition inManfredi's "Midas" inspired "Dimostrazione" a dramatic diagonal pose. This influenced my painting Dimostrazione, which I titled after the Da Vincian principle meaning “commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to make mistakes.”  The glassmaker embraces this concept.  He emerges from the darkness in high contrast, composed along the diagonal orientation of the blowpipe – muscles bulging in physical exertion, skin glistening with sweat that sparkles with a spectrum of colors from the glow of the furnace and the crushed glass.

 

A Venezia (“to Venice” in Italian) is a poetic composition which depicts the metaphorical narrative of artistic inspiration.  In this work, the solitary figure acts as a compositional anchor to the larger scene. The glory-hole roars out of the darkness – the source of light and heat and inspiration for the artist, who channels it into his own art.  He leans back dramatically and breathes into his creation, skin sparkling along with the glory-hole and glass, in a pose reminiscent of a Renaissance flute player. A Venezia I employ the use of diagonals to guide the eye from the glory-hole to the artist and then down along the blowpipe to the glass, mirroring the directionality of inspiration to creation.  This triangular composition is set against the deep indigo landscape in the background.   In the growing darkness, the landscape is obscured and the location is increasingly uncertain.  It is reminiscent of the Venetian lagoon, where the tradition of glassmaking was refined over centuries.  My focus on landscape and striking color is in line with the interests of the Venetian painting tradition, which further pays tribute a Venezia.

 

The more I explore the dialogue between painting and glass and mix media, my skills improve in both.  Telamoni Goblets present the other side of influence: how my study of drawing and painting the human figure has influenced my endeavors in glass.   In this series I collaborated with Telamoni goblets - collabAsher Holman; I sculpted the figures, which became the stems of the goblets he blew and assembled.  I brought glass sculpting and blowing together, inspired by the collaboration of Pino Signoretto and Lino Tagliapietra, masters in glass sculpting and blowing, respectively.  This series serves as a testament to the possibilities that can result from engagement between different forms of art. These goblets are products of the process I portray in my paintings, and displaying them together captures the two-way dialogue that has influenced my paintings and defined my art experience at Centre.

 

I compagni vetrai (“glassblowing partners” in Italian) is my most recent painting and my first multi-figural composition.  I have been building up to this, conscious of the challenges presented by portraying more than one figure in a painting.  I feel that if the narrative is too strong and too many figures are thrown into a painting, the intimacy of the figures’ interaction with one another can be lost.  My goal is for the composition to enhance the image by directing focus at the interaction between the two figures.  The artist shapes the glass with the “jacks” as his partner blows, their hands overlapping in the middle of the painting.  In this regard, I aim to create engaging images that capture the power, artistry, athleticism, drama, and sensuality of the figures, both in their interaction with one another and with the glass.  The resulting narrative is largely viewer-defined.

 

Most of these paintings portray an early stage in the process of glassmaking, when the glass is still blazing from the heat of the furnace.  The glowing orb burns and turns: a molten metaphor for the artist, who ultimately decides and directs its future – its form as yet uncertain, its potential limitless.