Working with glassblowers is an interesting process for me because there are technical drawings that communicate the eventual use of the vessel (what size, where is the opening, what are the relationships of the opening to volume in general, aesthetic ideals, etc.), and then there is, for me, a gestural kind of communication—a type of mime: I draw the shape with my entire body through gesture while standing with the glassblower. I work with glassblowers who have a natural affinity for organic forms and enjoy the adventure of knocking something off kilter a bit. I also like to work with glassblowers who are game to try new things.
In the case of the glass aspect of the “egg,” which is the part that will hold the living landscape for my installation in MoMA’s lobby—Paula Hayes, Nocturne of the Limax maximus—my partner Teo Camporeale and I flew out to Seattle, WA, and went to the James Mongrain Studio in Mukilteo, right on beautiful Puget Sound.
Jim is amazing. No one can blow glass on such a large scale and with such expertise as he can. Watching a session with Jim is, for me, both scary as hell and exhilarating fun. Scary, because he is controlling a blasting hot orb of molten magma while delicately choreographing a team of highly skilled technicians—one wrong move and there is serious trouble. Exhilarating, because of the wonder of the craft itself. In the hands of a master, getting what I want is, well…a triumph for all! I clap and jump up and down at the Mongrain studio.
I am attracted to translucent and transparent materials because I love the ephemeral aspect of holding or touching something I can see through, straight to the inner workings of the mysteries of soil, root systems, reactions within organic systems as a whole, or even the mind-boggling refractive qualities of light itself. The ancient craft of glass manufacturing, in relationship to the highly technical craft of molding acrylic, is a type of time travel for me in terms of craft and concept. Each material exhibits the wonders of what we do with our inventiveness and our desire to peer into other ways of seeing the light—all of which is transformed into a landscape to care for.