Art Changes Those Who Experience It

Being a glassblower I have been continually challenged by the tension between ‘craft’ and ‘art’.  The implication is, quite often, that if you make objects which are merely decorative, difficult to create, individual, and / or useful, you are not an ‘Artist’.

Hand blown glass art goblet making
Preparing the foot of a goblet for ‘bonking’ and opening. Photo by Peter Lin Carillo
Optically Twisted and textured pink vase
This vase is ‘gold ruby’ and very pretty. The flagship item in my first international sale. Photo, Bouquet and Setting by Charlotte Marie Wood

When I schlepped through Philosophy of Art many years ago I acquired many theories of aesthetics. Many years later I believe a very simple premise given my experience: Art changes me when I experience it, and great art (for me) changes me permanently. This is true in a host of different forms.

Escher's Ascending / Descending
Escher’s Ascending / Descending

In two dimensions, I’m drawn to extremes, and have vivid memories of my encounters with them. From the softer life Monet dabbed out to the melting clocks of Dali to Escher’s cyclical impossibilities, I enjoy minds expressed in color and line. But the works that have most deeply affected me were both by Picasso.

Guernica, Picasso
Guernica, Picasso

Guernica, a town I only know as Spanish, and the setting for this painting. For many, many years I could not shake the image of a horse with a bomb in its throat. And at the other extreme, a simple two line nude. Both works have informed how I view the world for decades after I first saw images or the pieces themselves. One at the ornate nature of violence in all its excess and waste, the other at the simplicity and the expressiveness of four lines in which beauty can be contained. The implication of a mental image or cementing of an idea, shared or new.  This is what art ‘means’ to me.  And no, my work doesn’t belong with theirs.  Yet; maybe someday I will believe it does.  I hope someday I believe it does.

Femme, Pablo Picasso
Femme, Pablo Picasso

And thus we come to Glass.  The first time I saw Chihuly’s work. I don’t remember the color, even, but I think it was blue. A giant tree of light.  Now, many years later, I still try to recreate the childish sense of wonder I felt seeing it. While I feel Chihuly’s art is more visceral than intellectual, now that I am older, the reality is that he took a form bound to the ideas of a fantastically difficult Craft, and made it such a unique experience for so many he changed many, many people permanently. A tough feat, in a jaded world.  But that is my standard for great art.  We have plenty of great art, as Americans; it’s art that has changed us, pushed our boundaries, moved our lives.  But I do not believe the purpose to which it has moved them is generally not individuality, strength, enhancement of the depth and color of our experiences.

Chihuly and Glass
Something nature has not produced on its own, that also looks like it. I’m not sure whether this image is copyrighted, but I’ll remove it if anyone complains.  That’s Chihuly.

2 Replies to “Art Changes Those Who Experience It”

  1. Hey, I’m very interested in getting into glass art and learning to create my own pieces. If you need a helper or have any suggestions on how to get into it on a professional track, i would greatly appreciate any feedback. Killer work btw huge fan

    1. Becoming a professional glass artist is…. A tough process. I suggest you look into flameworking. The reality is that there’s a wide gap between the number of people who want to make glass professionally and the number of people who want to buy glass at a price high enough to support those people. All of the successful off hand glass artists I know have spent a very, very long time becoming excellent at their craft and learning to sell.

      In contrast, flameworkers do pretty well for themselves, many of them make pipes and such, but…. It’s a better living. There’s a movie called Degenerate Art out there…. Anyways.

      I certainly don’t make any money on this. Yet. Maybe someday.

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