I am so fortunate that, as an artist, I am afforded the luxury of quiet every single day and the peace I receive from being in my studio is immeasurable. But what I have found even more remarkable is the effect that my work, created in tranquility, has on others. That the pieces I craft with love, care and time do indeed shine serenity, light and joy back into the world.
My work is largely influenced by the natural world and I have come to view my studio time akin to cultivating a garden. A daily routine that is both an outlet for creative discovery and a space where I find balance. There is an organic rhythm to my process. Like an inhale and an exhale – inhaling my surroundings and exhaling life into new pieces. With each new piece another door for exploration opens. And I have found that each work uniquely informs the next; as much as anything external or pre-meditative.
A larger piece can take several weeks to complete and the seemingly simple act of hand cutting and applying stencils - one at a time – has lead to great discovery. Watching the growth of new patterns and the interplay of positive and negative space is a creative journey in itself. My love of color is always present and glass – magical and radiant; made by way of breath’s imprint – retains importance as metaphor in my work.
Experiments in glassblowing while a printmaking major at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) ignited my signature style of intricate patterns on vibrantly colored hand blown glass. Upon graduation I quickly found my way into the glass studio. My curiosity took me to the Pilchuck Glass School (WA); Penland School of Crafts (NC); Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass (NY); the Rosin Studio, on Murano, Venice’s historic “glass island” in Italy. In 1998 I found studio space in Cambridge, MA where I continue to thrive.
For over a decade I worked with traditional vessels and I was captivated by the interplay that light, color, pattern and texture have with these closed forms. In 2011 (and 2016) I was honored to be the recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant.
This, coupled with a residency at the Tacoma Museum of Glass (2011), enabled me to embark on a new journey - breaking away from the vessel. The act of cutting open the vessels has presented me with a vast expanse of new possibilities and challenges, both technical and aesthetic. It has been a fascinating to witness just how different an “open” form reacts to light; this is an exciting new journey and potent metaphor for this stage in my life. Based on African currency bracelets this new format seemingly serves a dual purpose – for me a new way to see color and texture and light; and for the viewer, a fresh perspective. Perhaps due to the nature of the forms - which are reminiscent of artifacts and more easily identifiable with the pace of a museum – are seemingly more deserving of close observation – where as a vessel, which we identify as utilitarian, might more easily be overlooked.
The work you see here has been exquisitely blown by Pablo Soto. My work would not be possible, without his heartfelt effort and unmatched eye for form and proportion.
PABLO SOTO working in his Penland, North Carolina studio.
I am also grateful to designer and friend DEE ELMS who brought This Old House to the studio in 2012 and we created a custom light for their Cambridge project. My work appears in Season 34, Episode 14 - Cambridge 2012: Secondary Spaces.