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Rob Stern: The Complexity of Simplicity - A Glassblower’s Journey

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Release Date: 09/01/2023

Jonathan Capps’ Global Practice of Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Social Engagement, and Cultural Exchange show art Jonathan Capps’ Global Practice of Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Social Engagement, and Cultural Exchange

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

The inspiration for Jonathan Capp’s art comes from the experiences that shape his life. Whether hiking the Appalachian Trail, coaching Little League Baseball, becoming an archaeological illustrator halfway around the world, or competing on Blown Away, he channels those experiences into ideas and fully embraces life as a part of his art. Capps states: “I welcome new ideas and innovations in the studio, bringing fun, energy, and an inspiring enthusiasm into the hot shop.” Raised in Knoxville, TN, Capps spent much of his youth outdoors, camping, hiking, and playing baseball. After...

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David Graeber: Preserving Nature for Eternity in a Paperweight show art David Graeber: Preserving Nature for Eternity in a Paperweight

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Early in his career, Paul Stankard used to trade paperweights for gasoline and car servicing with John Graeber. In 1989, through his uncle John, David Graeber wound up casually visiting Stankard’s studio and weeks later was invited to come and work with him. Young Graeber started learning about glass in the deep end of the pool. Thirty-five  years later, he continues to work with Stankard about a day a week.  Having mastered numerous glassmaking techniques and having developed his own working style and visual aesthetic, in 2009 Graeber started his own art glass...

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Morgan Peterson: Winner of Blown Away 4 show art Morgan Peterson: Winner of Blown Away 4

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Said Blown Away Season 4 winner, Morgan Peterson, “I’m not just the creepy weirdo lurking in the background anymore. I’m right up front.” As champion of Netflix’s 2024 glassblowing competition series, the Seattle-based artist received a whopping cash prize of $100,000, a paid residency in Venice, Italy, with glass legend Adriano Berengo, and a residency at the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass. Growing up in Boston, MA, Peterson’s watched horror films and Unsolved Mysteries with her Godmother, introducing her to the unnerving  and creepy style so associated with her...

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Clifford Rainey: A Life's Travelogue in Cast Glass show art Clifford Rainey: A Life's Travelogue in Cast Glass

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Principally a sculptor who employs cast glass and drawing as primary methodologies, Clifford Rainey creates work that is interdisciplinary, incorporating a wide spectrum of materials and processes. A passionate traveler, his work is full of references to the things he has seen and experienced. Celtic mythologies, classical Greek architecture, the blue of the Turkish Aegean, globalization and the iconic American Coca-Cola bottle, the red of the African earth, and the human figure combine with cultural diversity to provide sculptural imagery charged with emotion.  A British artist...

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The State of Stained Glass show art The State of Stained Glass

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Enjoy this stained glass panel discussion with top industry professionals and educators Judith Schaechter, Stephen Hartley, Megan McElfresh, and Amy Valuck. Topics addressed include: what is needed in stained glass education; how the massive number of Instagrammers making suncatchers and trinkets affect stained glass; how to promote stained glass in a gallery setting; and how to stay relevant as stained glass artists. The panelists: By single-handedly revolutionizing the craft of stained glass through her unique aesthetic and inventive approach to materials, Judith...

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Kazuki Takizawa Uses Glass Art to Address Mental Health Issues show art Kazuki Takizawa Uses Glass Art to Address Mental Health Issues

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Kazuki Takizawa’s 2015 installation entitled Breaking the Silence represents the artist’s interpretation of a person’s breaking point and the juxtaposition of balancing inner struggles with oppressive external forces. The installation incorporated performance aspects and sound, where slanted vessels filled with water until submitting to the liquid’s weight, falling over onto a table. Takizawa’s work provided a new perspective for interacting with glass, going beyond form and technique to provoke a deeper level of engagement. Impressed by how humble and open Takizawa was...

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Jessica Loughlin’s Kiln Formed Glass: An Homage to the Observation of Light show art Jessica Loughlin’s Kiln Formed Glass: An Homage to the Observation of Light

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Jessica Loughlin’s work is characterized by a strict reductive sensibility and restricted use of color. Fusing kiln formed sheets of opaque and translucent glass together in flat panels or in thin, geometric compositions and vessels, she alludes to shadow, reflection and refraction. Loughlin’s work is influenced by the flat landscapes and salt lakes of South Australia, and the recurring motif of the mirage appears in much of her work. Each piece makes its own poetic statement.  “My work investigates space, seeing distance and understanding how wide-open spaces, particularly of the...

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The Glass Galaxies of Josh Simpson show art The Glass Galaxies of Josh Simpson

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Apollo 8, which launched on December 21, 1968, was the first mission to take humans to the moon and back. While the crew did not land on the moon’s surface, the flight was an important prelude to a lunar landing, testing the flight trajectory and operations getting there and back. Capt. James A Lovell, Apollo 8 astronaut, shared his memories of that historic mission: “Then, looking up I saw it, the Earth, a blue and white ball, just above the lunar horizon, 240,000 miles away…I put my thumb up to the window and completely hid the Earth. Just think, over five billion people,...

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Wesley Fleming: Flameworking the Realism of the Microcosmos show art Wesley Fleming: Flameworking the Realism of the Microcosmos

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Wesley Fleming brings the fantastic realism of the microcosmos to life in glass. An ambassador for smaller denizens of the earth, his passion for nature sparks awe and curiosity in others. Growing up in the countryside, his favorite pastime was exploring beneath logs and rocks in the woods or reading science fiction and comic books. Hence the natural world and his own imagination became his muse. Says Fleming: “I hope to rekindle awe and curiosity for nature with my fantastic realism. I’ve focused more than two decades honing my flameworking skills and trying to capture the essence of...

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Robin and Julia Rogers: A Collaboration Resulting in Provocative Glass Sculpture show art Robin and Julia Rogers: A Collaboration Resulting in Provocative Glass Sculpture

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

Physically and metaphorically Robin and Julia Rogers put their minds, hearts and hands together to create sculptural works in glass – their chosen material because of its inherent qualities of luminosity, viscosity, and seductive flow. Their inspiration is drawn from the natural world, personal experience, family life, music, psychology, and science. Robin and Julia state: “Complex and mystifying, the human mind drives us, but the subtle inner workings remain, to certain extent, unknown. Delving into the psyche, our work explores the human mind to reveal a metaphorical interior of...

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From his studio in Dania Beach, Florida, Rob Stern creates his signature Windstar sculptures, dedicated to his father, a consummate stargazer fascinated by cosmic phenomena. Stern was also inspired by his surname, which means star in German. The artist often names his stars to reveal their celestial spheres. Copernica is derived from Copernicus, visible in the evening sky over Miami Beach. Polaris, known as the North Star, is the brightest in the constellation of Ursa Minor. Antares is the 15th brightest star in the night sky and is part of the constellation Scorpius. Other Windstar titles conjure colors and experiences, such as Red Dawn, which takes its name from a glowing red center or Modra, the Czech word for blue. Stern’s Windstars are a testament to his deep understanding of glass and belief that the material takes him where it wants to go during the making process.

Another iconic body of work, Stern’s Stilettos, was inspired by his wife’s vast collection of designer shoes that includes Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Alexander McQueen. However, these glass slippers are even more extreme with wild bejeweled designs that could make even Lady Gaga swoon. 

Stern states: “My creative endeavors and sculptures are mere stepping stones towards my search for understanding life. Harmonic instances between what I sense and do are the signals that guide me through my processes and prompt daily decisions. My works act as a communicative device which seeks to connect my thoughts and my actions to the collective human consciousness. A path seeking insight and enlightenment carries me forwards and always seems to bring me back to the glass.”

His mother an art teacher and father a filmmaker, Stern attended Northside High School for Performing Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was part of an elite group that performed internationally. He later pursued visual arts, receiving a BFA from San Francisco State University (1989) and an MFA from the University of Miami (2003). Other glass training includes a five-year apprenticeship with John Lewis Glass, Oakland, California, where he trained to be a metal fabricator and expert glass caster/cold-worker. Stern went on to assist Czech master Petr Novotny and worked in the Czech glass factories as a designer/maker for two years. The artist also assisted or collaborated with many masters such as Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Martin Blank, Richard Royal, Richard Jolley, Dante Marioni, Therman Statom, Stanislav Libensky, Rene Roubicek, and Vladimir Klien, among many others.

Lecturing at the University of Miami for 10 years, Stern also acted as interim professor at University of Texas Arlington in 2009. He has frequented the premier glass institutions, most notably Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, for a 30-year consecutive run where he has taught, been a gaffer, TA, AA, and worked with the most notable international artists. Dedicated to education, the artist has also taught at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; the Penland School of Craft, North Carolina; The Glass Furnace, Istanbul, Turkey; Bildwerk Frauenau, Germany; and Ways of Glass, Czech Republic. Stern designed and created many centerpiece collections for various institutions including Pilchuck in 2011, and he received the Amazon award for his Pilchuck auction piece in 2021. This year he has a prominent piece in Pilchuck’s October Auction.

Currently involved in long-term residencies at YZ Center for the Arts, China, and Bezaiten Arts Center in Lake Worth, Florida, Stern will serve as the future director of glass at The Dania Art Park, now in development. Meanwhile he and his team design and create original sculpture, architectural commissions, and unique lighting that has been commissioned, exhibited, and collected internationally. Recently, the artist participated in Habatat Gallery’s Glass 51 exhibition, and several of his works were acquired by Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Eighty of his pieces have become part of the permanent collection of the Weiner Museum of Decorative Arts (WMODA), Dania Beach, Florida.

Says Stern: “My aesthetic resides at the crossroads where humans and nature intersect. Between organic and angular, a space connects the temporary man-made to the pre-existing and eternal cosmos. Here, we begin to measure our perspective and contemplate the perception of our place in the world as it is one that is always changing with the evolution of space, light, and time. I venture to capture moments with materials that speak to a fleeting sensibility of the permanence or importance of this balancing act. Color and form dictate emotion, and humanity is transcended as we reflect in the inherent rhythm and fractal patterning in this natural world. My constant observation of details persuades my attention to nuances in an attempt to mimic the complexity of its simplicity.” 

Stern’s work will be exhibited at Kittrell Riffkind in Dallas, Texas, in April 2024.