The exhibition “Modern Alchemy: The Art of Glass” features glass artists from all over the state who are members of the Vermont Glass Guild, an organization established in 2010 by glass artist Chris Sherwin. The goal of the Vermont Glass Guild is to bring together Vermont artists working in glass for mutual support and professional enrichment.
The show , housed in the museum’s soaring galleries, features the variety of techniques used to produce works of art in glass, including the hot technique (blown glass), warm (kiln-formed), lamp (torch-worked) and cold (stained glass).
Glass artists are people who have helplessly fallen in love with their medium, and this show is a wonderful expression of that love affair.
“I fell in love with glass 26 years ago,” said Brattleboro glass artist and Guild member Randi Solin of Solinglass. Solin’s work is in the permanent collections of the White House and the American embassies in Algeria, Guatemala, Guinea, Mauritania, Paraguay, and Praia (the capital and largest city of Cape Verde).
“Glass seduced me with its liquid light, its texture and its heat,” Solin said. “Over time, I continued to remain interested due to the challenge. I always say glass takes advantage of an unfocused mind. I feel the struggle constantly engaging. I guess if I ever reach perfection I will stop — but for now the battle goes on.”
Vermont Glass Guild member and glassblower Robert Burch of Brandywine Glassworks describes his love affair with glass:
“I walked by a tiny cabin. There was this roar coming out of it. So I wandered in and there was this guy blowing a glass bowl. I had walked in just as he was spinning it out. You use centrifugal force and spin the rod really quickly and the glass opens up. At that moment the glass is really, really liquid. It’s flowing, it’s moving; it looks like a manta ray. It has incredible grace, a natural, fluid movement. It’s magical, it’s glowing, it’s hot, it’s sensual, it’s incredibly beautiful — and it stole my heart.”
Artist, sculptor, and designer Robert DuGrenier left New York City in the late 1990s to set up his studio and business in Townshend. His works range from original glass chandeliers and displays for large commercial and private spaces to small delicate pieces that create novel interactions with the natural world of plants and animals.
“The process of making glass allows me to communicate with and through the material during the creation of my work,” says DuGrenier. “My understanding of how the material moves, forms, and cools is a culmination of years experimenting with glass. Often the pieces result in a frozen moment of time that show the fluidity, clarity, and beauty of the material without really showing the hand of the maker.”
At press time, artists participating include: Lucy Bergamini, Julia Brandis, Ed Branson, Robert Burch, Genevieve C. Cole, Debora Coombs, Karen Deets, Matthew Donaldson, Robert DuGrenier, Alissa Faber, Zachary Grace, Jim Jackson, Nick Kekic, Jordana Korsen, Max Lefko-Everett, David Leppla, Melanie Leppla, Tucker Litchfield, Eric Nelson, Alyssa Oxley, Hank and Toby Schwartz, Matt Seasholtz, Chris Sherwin, Randi Solin, Joseph Tracy, Stefania Urist, Jennifer Violette, and Andrew Weill.
The Vermont Glass Guild invites the public to access its studio/gallery map to locate glass studios that are dotted all over the state.
“Many of us open our studio doors and share our expertise, and offer public tours and classes, says Sherwin, “so once this show is over we hope to connect with you and share our passion and love affair with glass.”
The Wilson Museum and Galleries at Southern Vermont Arts Center is open from May to October and houses contemporary exhibitions as well as special traveling exhibitions.