Josh Simpson has spent 50 years creating some of the most intricate and vibrant works in the world of contemporary glass. He has developed his own distinctive style inspired equally by outer space and the natural world and is recognized for his innovative Megaplanet series, as well as his signature blue New Mexico Glass, Corona Glass, and much more.
To celebrate and honor his legacy, we have gathered quotes from several people who Josh has worked with and inspired throughout his impressive career.
Karol Wight, president and executive director, The Corning Museum of Glass:
“When I arrived in Corning in 2011 to work at the Museum, one of the first pieces that caught my eye in the galleries was Josh Simpson’s Megaplanet. Even though the work is rather cheekily displayed next to an array of paperweights, I recognized it for the piece of virtuoso sculpting it is, rather than assessing it as a 500 lb. paperweight. And when I learned that Josh was married to astronaut Cady Coleman, a deeper meaning behind the design of the sculpture was made clear. I’m a science fiction fan, and by looking examining the miniature universe created within ‘Megaplanet’, as well as in many other globes made by Josh, my interest in space and the universe was sparked in a new way.
“As I got to know Josh, I began to appreciate how much he has given of himself to the world of glass art, through teaching, through his generous spirit, and as an ambassador. I have had the pleasure to travel with Josh on some of our Ennion trips, and he never fails to engage meaningfully with the artists we meet on those journeys.
“He looks to the past for inspiration and Josh has shared with me how meaningful it is to him to have the papers of past glass artists and designers in the Rakow Research Library. He has delved into those archives to understand their creative process, and their trials and tribulations, experiences not unlike his own. His love of the material and its potential remains undiminished.”
Meghan Bunnell, buyer, The Shops at The Corning Museum of Glass:
“Josh Simpson’s legacy is etched in the history of glass. As a creative force, he finds beauty and magic in everything he does.”
Amy Schwartz, director, The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass:
“I love to watch people when they first see Josh’s planets! They are always fascinated with the world within the planet. His work makes people think about possibilities. For 50 years, Josh has been delighting people with his work and has contributed to the studio glass movement. Josh had an early mobile studio, bringing glassblowing to audiences across the USA, and even taught at The Studio. He has long been an active part of the glass community, serving on the board of the Glass Art Society, and helping to launch the Craft Emergency Relief Fund. Josh has experimented with glass formulas and has created so much beautiful work. After 50 years, he remains a vibrant and creative artist.”
Jesse Rasid, Hot Glass Programs senior technician, The Corning Museum of Glass:
“Josh Simpson changed the course of my life! As a high school kid, I was getting ready to start applying to colleges for early childhood education programs. Then, I began apprenticing for Josh in my junior year of high school and discovered glass. The rest you can say is history. That was 30 years ago this July. I’m really excited to have Josh out here in Corning again this year. It’s corny, but I’m eager to work with him on some pieces for our anniversary summer… his 50th year and my 30th.”
Josh was at The Corning Museum of Glass this past weekend to celebrate this monumental milestone. Guests had the opportunity to watch Josh blow glass in the Museum’s Amphitheater Hot Shop and then meet with him during a book signing event. His new book, Josh Simpson: 50 Years of Visionary Glass, now available for purchase, is filled with informative narration by Josh and more than 550 beautiful photos. This visual experience reveals the evolution of his evocative glass art over the past 50 years.
The book is also filled with many more quotes from artists whose paths have crossed with Josh.
We’ve picked out a selection here:
“Josh is one of those people who, if you put twelve people in a room and tell them to do something, he will be the head of the committee, every time.”
Matt Foley, Josh’s partner at Burnt Mountain Glass, Vermont, 1972-73
“In effect, the Planets act much like Persian miniatures, whose small format and richly painted microenvironments were designed to encourage contemplation in an intimate, relaxed manner. The beauty of those objects simultaneously calms and excites the eye, providing a momentary flight from the mundane that refreshes the mind.”
Tina Oldknow, former curator, The Corning Museum of Glass
“I have known Josh as an employer, fellow glass artist, and friend for nearly forty years. During those early years, Josh was making Planets just for fun. I have never met anyone who could bring so much energy and excitement to a subject. If you didn’t believe a Simpson Planet was inhabited, it would not be long before you were convinced, because Josh is so engaged in the story that he actually believes it himself. It was a beautiful thing to watch. When he transitioned from making mainly goblets to also selling Planets, the business exploded. His personality and Planets were a perfect marriage.”
Ed Branson, Josh’s hotshop assistant, 1982-87; glass artist, Ashfield, Massachusetts
“The year I spent working in Josh’s glass studio, from 1982 to ’83, was entirely positive, and that’s all credit to Josh himself. Just being there, watching and learning and working on the team–that was great. But what I really appreciated was Josh’s energy and crazy attitude about everything. We had fun every day. Josh also gave generously of his time, to all of us, despite being under constant pressure. What remains with me most about that year were the people I met and the incredible sense of camaraderie and equality that I experienced at Josh’s studio. Now a highly respected figure in the American glass world, Josh was a great mentor to me and many other artists. But more important, he is a lifelong friend.”
Daniel Clayman, hotshop assistant, 1982-83; glass artist, East Providence, Rhode Island
With a million ideas left to explore, Josh Simpson is already looking at what’s next and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
Check our YouTube channel soon for a recording of Josh’s livestreamed demonstration from August 28.