April 8 - July 23, 2017 | Fort Gallery

While the production of glass objects in Appalachia dates as far back as the 1700s, it was only within the past few decades that artists began exploring and defining the creative potential of glass as a sculptural medium. American ceramicist and educator Harvey K. Littleton was teaching at the University of Wisconsin when he began experimenting with glass in the 1950s. Many artists at the time were looking for ways to explore and create glass outside of factories and industry. After collaborating with glass research scientist Dominick Labino, a small furnace was created that allowed artists to work with glass independently in their studios. Littleton eventually began teaching glass to some of today's most well-known artists, including Dale Chihuly and Marvin Lipofsky, who pushed the recognition of glass as an art form in the United States through the experimentation of sculptural forms. Artists sought guidance and expertise outside of the United States, allowing studio glass to grow into an international movement where artists and designers could share ideas and create glass works in small, independent studios.

Glass working arrived in western North Carolina in 1965 at Penland School of Crafts with a studio built by Bill H. Boysen, one of Littleton's students. Many glass artists practicing at Penland in the 60s and 70s—including Mark Peiser, Penland's first residential glass artist—have grown to become some of the most influential artists of the American Studio Glass Movement. When Littleton retired and moved to Spruce Pine in 1977, many young glass artists followed. Since then, western North Carolina has become a hub for the Studio Glass Movement. Contemporary glass artists come to learn and share glass working techniques—including glassblowing, hot sculpting, and cold working—to create beautifully crafted works of art.

There are well over 60 studio glass artists working around the region, many of whom are recognized as some of the most influential contemporary glass artists of our time. Fire & Form: North Carolina Glass features over 30 glass artists currently living and working here in North Carolina, exploring a wide variety of techniques and approaches to studio glass today.

Exhibiting artists include Kathryn Adams, Dean Allison, Valerie & Rick Beck, Gary Beecham, Eddie Bernard, Alex Bernstein, Katherine & William Bernstein, Jennifer & Thor Bueno, Ken Carder, Cristina Cordova & Pablo Soto, Tina Councell, Courtney Dodd, Ben Elliott, Shane Fero, Greg Fidler, Nick Fruin, John Geci, Joe Grant, Michael Hayes, Mike Krupiarz, Jon Kuhn, Rob Levin, Amber Marshall, John Nygren, Mark Peiser, Corey Pemberton, Kenny Pieper, IlaSahai Prouty, Richard Ritter, Kate Vogel & John Littleton, Hayden Wilson, and Thoryn Ziemba.

Fire & Form: North Carolina Glass is sponsored by Monkee's of Blowing Rock


Photo Credit: Detail of Measured in Time, (Altered and Ebonized Red Oak with Stacked Pulled Glass Threads) 18" x 7" x 18"h by Mike Krupiarz