John Shoemaker, a Philadelphia resident and 2012 graduate of Tyler School of Art, came to The Studio this summer upon a recommendation from one of his professors to take Benjamin Cobb’s class, From the Sketchbook to the Blowpipe. He received a Celebrity Cruises Glassmaking Scholarship to take this course, which focused on staying true to a drawing, troubleshooting the problems that arise while working hot glass and improving on the forms through repetition in order to create the piece the students wanted to achieve.
John is working on a sinker form to use in his “Balance” series, a collection of work made with glass and wood that features two “disparate objects that are unified in their form but are different in scale.” Attracted to early industrial aesthetics, he will often coat his pieces in metal oxides to create a look closer to metal than glass.
“I’m definitely influenced by where I live,” John says of Philadelphia, where he is surrounded by “relics of industrial history” such old warehouse buildings, driftwood, and pulleys. He is particularly inspired by block and tackle systems, simple machines that have revolutionized how we relate to and manipulate nature through the use of mechanical advantage. In a post-industrial society, he finds inspiration in these machines, “marks of a good craftsman” that have withstood the test of time despite inevitable deterioration. “They have an influence on how I think about time,” he says.
John was excited to continue to develop his series after spending a lot of time assisting other artists. The Celebrity scholarship to study at The Studio gave him not only financial assistance, but also the opportunity to focus intensively on improving upon his drawings and ideas. During the week-long course, students worked in small groups, allowing for individualized feedback from the instructor. Students caught glimpses of other classes going on during the session, and made connections with instructors and other students. The Studio also offers other benefits during class sessions – John was able to meet with the GlassMarket buyer, go through the Museum with Bill Gudenrath, and go on a guided tour of the glass sculptures in the Corning Incorporated headquarters building – a rare sight as this building is not open to the public. “Overall,” says John, “it’s very inspiring; it makes me want to come back to Corning and work hard on my body of work.”