All About Glass

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Meet the Artist: Michael Glancy

All About Glass

Crystal Obscura, Michael Glancy, Rehoboth, MA, 1996–1998. Gift of Dan Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser. 2012.4.168.In 2013, the Museum received a group of five works in glass and metal by the American artist Michael Glancy as a gift from Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, Museum patrons and friends of the artist. One of Glancy’s 1998 sculptures, Crystal Obscura [^^2012.4.168^^], is made with colorless glass with a slight aqua tint and electroformed copper. The vessel sits atop a seemingly glacial landscape with copper-plated grooves that move across the surface. The object is worked in Glancy’s “Pompeii” cut, a technique that references a 1st-century Roman faceted beaker made in Pompeii, which was featured in the Museum’s 1987 Glass of the Caesars exhibition. “I have studied [this beaker]. To me, this is a perfect object. The scale and proportion are perfect. So, I have this framed [in my studio] as an example of a perfect object,” said Glancy in a 2011 interview with Tina Oldknow, in the book Michael Glancy: Infinite Obsessions, 1996–2011 (Barry Friedman Ltd, 2011).

Detail of Resilient Corrosion in Lavender, Michael Glancy, Rehoboth, MA, 1989. Gift of the Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family. 2006.4.30.All of Glancy’s works begin as sketches. Lines, circles, spirals, and grids are drawn on paper. His works are one part geometrics, one part nature, and one part science fiction. Imitating mountain ridges, sand dunes, glacial flows, and constellations, his sculptural vessels, which are posed on landscape-like planes, are futuristic abstractions of natural forms.

Born in Detroit, Glancy studied business as an undergraduate before discovering glass at Peter Vanderlaan’s studio during a trip to Santa Fe in 1970. Glass was not offered as a degree at The University of Denver where he was a student at the time, and so he completed his degree and headed to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to learn how to craft the material from Dale Chihuly. There, he completed a second bachelor of fine arts degree, and later, a master of fine arts degree in 1980.

While initially attracted to the smoke and fire of hot glassblowing, Glancy gravitated toward working with glass in its cold state—cutting, sandblasting, grinding, and engraving. In 1980, he made his first electroformed work, Crown Jewel, and that process—creating a thin layer of metal on glass by attaching electrodes and placing the object in a chemical bath—became his signature technique. Whereas hot glassworking is an immediate process, cold working and electroforming allowed him the time to gain different perspectives on the shapes and styles of glass. For Glancy, the pairing of glass and metal is a vibrant combination.

Crystal Concentrations, Michael Glancy, Rehoboth, MA, 1985. Gift of the Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family. 2006.4.28.Glancy sees his works as living objects. When a piece is first created, it is raw. His objects not only represent nature, but they are natural objects that change as the applied metals oxidize over time.

Currently working as an adjunct faculty member in the metals department at RISD, Glancy maintains a studio in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. There he continues to create his cut, sandblasted, and electroformed living objects, typically comprised of a blown vessel placed perpendicular to a confined landscape, that strive to perfect nature.

Published on July 24, 2013