The glass sculpture by William Morris is usually the first thought I have when asked about which contemporary glass artists do I like.
This is the type of question I could easily create a large list of artists and glass work. I could populate that list with glass blowers showcasing their technical skills and talent. I could include glass artists with a wonderful sense of aesthetic. I could “comb” through photos of amazing glass sculpture.
I could even create categories based on functional and non-functional works in glass…
But William Morris ‘s work and approach working with glass puts him at the top of any glass art lists. This is not meant to be a historical biography about William Morris. This is about my own thoughts on how his work has influenced my own approach with glass sculpture.
Early in my career, seeing the work of William Morris was an eye opening experience.
Studio glass blowing has many traditional methods, steps, and procedures having been developed over time. These traditional methods, steps, and procedures are part of the “canvas” when creating something with hot molten glass.
Morris sometimes employed methods and techniques not considered “traditional”. He figured out non-traditional techniques in working glass ranging from color application to achieving the final form.
I remember thinking to myself – I didn’t know you could do that with glass.
He gave me a sense that anything the imagination could come up with… it could be done with glass. This mind set played a greater role in more recent years for me.
As my experience, skill level, and understanding with glass blowing increased… so did my confidence. Having greater confidence allowed me to rethink my approach with design and concept.
No longer was I relying on the process of glass blowing to heavily dictate the direction and outcome of a sculpture. The design or concept dictated what needed to be done while creating a glass sculpture. Overcoming technical difficulties became a focus in order to achieve my goal.
This is the major influence William Morris and his work has had on me… The approach that anything is possible.
By Bernard Katz
Above Photo Credit links:
“Raft” by William Morris – The Smithsonian
“Situla” by William Morris – wmorris.com
Photo by Julian Lievano used with permission – http://flic.kr/p/9ZHtQ7