An art glass perspective from our US writer John Watson…
For most people, glass is a functional material used for windows, glassware, and little ornaments around the house. It is not a material that people consider to be a major part of the art world, unless of course you include stained glass windows in that mix. Stained glass is certainly one of the earliest forms of creative work with the most fragile of materials, but it is certainly not the only artistic use for it.
There are many well-known artists out there today, using techniques and processes that are constantly pushing the limits of what can be created with glass. Here is just a small selection of some of the hugely talented creative glass artists working today.
Dale Chihuly – If you are interested in seeing glass art done on a larger scale, look no further than the sculptures created by Chihuly. While some artists settle on vases and smaller pieces, Chihuly creates large blown glass sculptures, many of which are on display at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, as well as in hospitals, hotels, and churches.
Jack Storms – There are few glass artists today whose creative glass pieces as unique as those that Storms makes. Creating a single piece can take as long as 24 weeks, as the process he uses is incredibly detailed, and involves turning a piece of lead crystal into a finely-honed series of reflective mirrors. This piece serves as the centre of each piece, which is wrapped in optical glass to create a kaleidoscopic, colourful display.
Rick Satava – It is the ability to create something totally unique that tends to get an artist noticed, and while Satava has created many memorable pieces of glass art in the last 35 years, it is one series that probably put him on the map. That would be the encased glass jellyfish pieces that look even more delicate than the actual creatures themselves. Each creation is one of a kind, and a stunning look that needs to be seen to be believed.
Ginny Ruffner – Another glass artist whose creative glass pieces are a lot larger in scale than you might expect. The work that Ruffner creates has been featured in collections all over the world, and here story makes the scale of her work all the more incredible. She suffered injuries in a car accident that led doctors to believe that she would never walk or talk again. While she does still suffer from issues caused by the crash, she does not let them affect the amazing quality of her work.
Tom Fruin – You usually need to go to a museum or a gallery to see the pieces created by the artists included in this list. This is not the case with Fruin, though, as all you need to do is look up when you are walking the streets in New York, as that is where you will find one of his most iconic pieces. The “Watertower” is a large-scale art installation that sits on a rooftop at 20 Jay Street in NYC. The structure looks for all the world like a water tower, but it has been pieced together using thousands of pieces of repurposed plexiglass.
Cathryn Shilling – While many of the artists in this list have been known to the glass art community for decades, Shilling is an artist who is still relatively new to the scene. Her impact is easy to understand, though, once you get a look at the pieces she creates. She uses a weaving technique that creates glass pieces that look more like patterned fabric than anything else. The pieces are both intricate and delicate, and are sure to be unlike anything you have ever seen made with glass before.
These are just a few of the great glass artists that are delivering truly unique pieces today, and who are pushing the envelope in the medium. We hope this inspires you to search out some of the other glass artists that are out there delivering breathtaking work.