Form and Shape: Pablo Soto at 2300°

At December’s 2300°: Salsa, guest artist Pablo Soto created vibrant blue glass vessels in front of a lively crowd. I caught up with him after the show to see what he’s been working on lately.

What did you work on this evening?

This evening we worked on a piece from a silhouette series that I started making a number of years ago. The series developed from pure line drawings, very elongated, accentuated forms. Then we moved on to a newer line of work that involved a little scarification and a substantial amount of crystal – an enlarged martini shape.  And we ended up with a little bit of time at the end so we made a Roman footed bowl.

And you’re here visiting from Penland?

I’m from Penland, and I grew up in Texas. My parents were potters and ultimately they exposed me to glassblowing. I attended Alfred University and became acquainted with The Corning Museum of Glass through that capacity. I love it here. The Museum is so incredible and the Rakow Library. I have lots of good friends that blow glass here today so I’m really honored to be back.

Pablo Soto at 2300: Salsa at The Corning Museum of Glass Innovation Stage, December 2012

Pablo Soto at The Corning Museum of Glass

Tell me more about your background in glass.

I first saw glassblowing when I was about 5 years old watching Lino Tagliapietra at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. It was that experience that solidified my love for it. My grandmother was from Deer Isle, Maine so I would return every summer and watch him blow glass until I was about 13. That really shaped a lot of my path in life.

Pablo Soto at 2300°.

I know you’ve worked with a lot of big names in glass.

Yes, I have been very lucky. I was an intern at Benjamin Moore’s Studio in Seattle, and every week it was someone fresh. Dante Marioni, Richard Royal, Preston Singletary, Dale Chihuly, Dan Dailey… just a wonderful rotation of artists from week to week. That experience of visually being a part of so many different processes has really carried me through my career. I’m really lucky that way.

You said that your parents worked in ceramics – did that influence your work?

Yes, growing up as a potter’s kid. I was enveloped with all of this information, the idea of form and shape and the processes are so related. But once I got engaged with glassblowing I really enjoyed the physicality of it: the movement, and the obvious qualities, the translucency, fluidity. But that relationship between ceramics and glass – I still see them as partners.

The vessel made by Pablo Soto at 2300°: Salsa, December 2012.

Tell me about your style.

I’m not what you would call a lover of fluid glass that is kind of out of control. I tend to be a little bit anal with my shapes, very focused on center. It’s kind of a mid-century modern aesthetic. But, I’m starting to welcome more texture and patterning in my work as of late, so that’s a new direction for me.

So what’s next?

I’ve been focusing a lot on the refractive qualities of glass – drawing, scarifying the surface and projecting images with the glass itself, so it’s a very different direction. I also want to experiment a lot more with print making on glass surfaces, so, we’ll see, we’ll see.

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