During the Hot Glass Roadshow’s five-day visit at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, we had three very different visiting artists come and work with us on our stage. The first was Richard Jolley, a renowned Tennessean glass sculptor whose technique and body of work is a true embodiment of the American Studio Glass Movement.
The ease and familiarity that Richard displayed while quickly sculpting this difficult molten material into figurative form was humbling to me and it reminded me that without him and other glass pioneers I wouldn’t be working with this material today. He helped pave the glass way for me and a multitude of other aspiring glass artists. It’s not a bad day of glassblowing at all when you get to work with one of your glass heroes.
Another in our visiting artist series was architect and furniture designer Johanna Grawunder. It was a sheer delight to work with her since the combination of her design aesthetic and excitement to see what could be translated into hot glass was a essentially a glassblower’s dream.
The focus of her design was the contrast between nature and man; organic and streamlined, and how that dichotomy could be uniquely showcased using hot glass.
The highlight for me was her enthusiasm and our lead gaffer, Eric Meek, having to challenge himself by making a vessel really off center to stay true to Johanna’s design. As he was intentionally distorting his perfect bubble we were both laughing because we knew it went against his fine-tuned glassmaking grain, so to speak.
I was reminded of my first glassblowing instructor’s early mandate that you have to learn to make a perfect cylinder before you can make something organic and get away with it. Well, Eric managed just fine as expected and the result was stunning glass.
Gyun Hur, a local Korean 2D and performance artist was our last designer and she brought a whole new conceptual portrayal to our endeavors. Her motivation was to display the sensuousness, strength, and fragility inherent to glass by comparing it to the Korean Gisaeng or courtesans, similar to Japanese Geishas. She depicted an elegant and simple long neck bottle shape with a beautiful color fade. The top piece was an ornate hair creation that Eric crafted into a cork for the bottle.
The second vessel was another bottle that showcased a Korean wedding blanket design that Gyun has spent a lot of time recreating in her own work. Her and her family spent 3 months chopping silk flowers to fabricate a huge installation depicting her mother’s wedding blanket design using techniques similar to Buddhist sand mandalas.
All in all we had a wonderful time in Atlanta at the High Museum of Art. In our downtime we explored the city and delighted in some out of this world culinary adventures. To top off our visit we journeyed to the Georgia Aquarium, so I was able to assuage my pangs of longing for ocean travels. It was nice to get my land glassblowing legs back under me for a time, especially since I was fortunate to work with a great team on the stage and at the High Museum.
Until the next glass adventure,