Of course, an artist chooses visual, and material means of communication partly to avoid or short circuit, or transcend words, and I'm inclined to the view that visual art should speak for itself. But a few words may help to understand what energizes my work in glass.
So many of the products of our material culture have a short life span; millions of dollars are invested in a TV commercial lasting 20 seconds. Meanwhile mountains of trash pile up. I question what this pursuit of instant gratification adds to our lives, and inspired by the humane and spiritual themes that have nourished art over the centuries, I try to create works that will yield their pleasures over time and reward thoughtful contemplation. In my experience the greatest pleasures develop slowly and are informed by nature, by the personal search for meaning and beauty and by the treasures of sense, spirit and culture that most inspire us. A slower contemplative pace of organic process, craftsmanship and artistry require an investment of time and energy, but offers a rich appreciation of every aspect of life.
My personal design vocabulary divides along two distinct lines of development, two styles which frequently interact and merge, but also continue apace in their own directions. One mode is abstract, deriving inspiration from the playful use of geometric forms, the mesmerizing contours of nature, shapes and edges. My other approach to visual composition might be characterized as poetic visual collage. Arranging imagery from textbooks, my sketch-books, medieval church glass, art history and literature, I follow an urge to compress time and reveal the inner workings of nature and human thought. In this process I find the buoyant power of life’s interdependence and transformations at work in my spirit. Life is change and I like the idea that the viewer will often see the moving world on the other side of the glass. The work tells me to embrace the kinetic unpredictability of this quality.
Glass is an amazing substance, responsive to the direction and degree of light; it is illuminated not by reflection as in most art forms, but by transmission. Glass reveals with seductive directness the range of visual light. It also allows an amazing array of technical manipulations. In its very form stained glass acts as a kind of large scale external lens by which I try to both reveal and give added meaning to the light, color, form and motion around us.
GLASS MAGIC IS NOT ENOUGH
Composing with liquid stone
each fragment holds light
like a universe holds stars
in a cradle of transparent matter.
We are creatures of the lens
Through organic lenses we see our
mothers face, our lovers eyes, lenses to another world.
Through a doubled lens of glass Galileo looks out this morning
further and further, light guiding him back through time,
Leeuwenhoek reverses the order of the lens
peers at paramecia,
and through a digital lens I watch my words form in an electron field.
And i need this light.
This gathering of light and glass is the river and the stone where the light flows into me,
and i need the light so i shape and pound and bend and grind the magic stone and i cut it
and it cuts me
and the light bleeds through
and the fire shivers through
and the stream flows through,
but glass magic is not enough.
It is my tears that etch it and my life that heats it
and still glass magic is not enough.
It is another ordinary miracle, better than gunpowder, but not so
great as water, nor so sweet as breath.