Sunday, January 23, 2011

What is Glass Secessionism?

I wanted to share the idea of Glass Secessionism, a movement in glass built on, but growing away from the traditions of the  Studio Art Glass movement that began in the 1950/60's.
The following is a post on the Glass Secessionist facebook page written by Glass Secessionist Artist, and founder of the Washington Glass School, Tim Tate on what glass secessionism is:

Tim Tate

a few questions I was recently asked about Glass Secessionism

1. What drew you to the term "glass secessionism"? You've written about the source, but did you consider any other names for the group?

I've struggled with a term for 21st century glass on numerous occasions, beginning with the 2005 show I curated called "Compelled By Content". There just didn't seem to be a phrase beside narrative driven mixed media sculpture....hardly a concise wording. I have seen the new phrase "Post-Glass" , (referencing the Post-Black show a few years ago ) I liked that phrase as well. The decision was made while looking up some information on Stieglitz and realizing the he was trying to take photography the same place many of the 21st century glass sculptors were trying to take glass. Glass Secessionism seems to define it best.

2. Do you think there has been a place for mixed media in the glass art world before now?

Of course there have always been notable exceptions. (Therman Statom's entire career for example). The first 30 years of the Studio Art Glass movement seemed to be primarily focused on technique and materiality. That may have been out of necessity to learn the limits of the materiality, it may have been collector driven.....its hard to say. Both those things have changed greatly.

3. What drove you to start raising the points you raise in your Facebook group and looking for other artists who feel the same way?

Three things :

A). I noticed at the last SOFA Chicago that the distressed economy had also brought back more conservative buying practices......going back to established names. It takes a healthy economy to have collectors support new directions.

B). At the same time I noted the popularity of the biggest names in blown glass were all beginning to call their pieces sculpture.....never vessels. I was worried that the progress that many 21st century glass sculptors might begin to erode.

C) Finally, I had attending 5 "Collector Talks" over the last year....where collectors would give a powerpoint presentation on the highlights of their collections. These were all the blue chip glass collectors who have been so pivotal in furthering the advancement of glass as a fine art form. Without exception, their collections (at least for the purposes of their PowerPoint presentation) stopped in the mid 1990's. It was as if they were unconsciously saying that nothing of note had been made in this century. I believe a new type of collector is which may be temporarily invisible to current glass galleries.

4. Where do you see "post glass" or "glass secessionism" going in the future?

I daresay that very few current glass MFA students are focusing primarily on technique or medium. Why become Dante-Lite? More and more you will see this narrative for of glass sculpture emerge. Few newer glass artists even want to show at glass galleries, as they fear being surrounded by types of glass that rely on materiality. That type of glass is easily understood by a collector. The new type is much more challenging to grasp the concepts, and at a large art fair gallery staff may shy away from it as it takes a bit of time to explain and comprehend.

The only piece missing towards this new direction is a gallery that specializes in it. The next great glass gallery will do just that. Look at the ranks of the folks in the Facebook page "Glass Secessionism". There is no dearth of incredible artwork and sculpture to choose from. The museum curators are ready for this change as well. Once the galleries and collectors begin to rise up.....the next 30 years will be dominated by these 21st century glass secessionist sculptors.

Another post on Glass Secessionism over at the Washington Glass School Blog