I use hot glass to make prints and drawings. Since 2001 I have been creating my own process, which is a combination of glassblowing and printing or drawing with glass. First, I sculpt hot glass into shapes and lines. Then, while the glass is still scorching hot from the glory hole, I press the glass forms into wet sheets of high quality rag paper. Instantly, the glass begins to burn and smoke the paper. In this dramatic process, the glass becomes cracked, scarred and destroyed. All that remains is its mark on the paper.
The soul of glass is its heat.
These prints function as maps of that heat.
They reveal a secret aspect of the glass normally known only to the maker.
The casual viewer may not instantly spot that these prints are made from glass, but no other material would be able to create these high-temperature, organic burns. They have a richness, translucency and liquidity that is an echo of the original glass form. The resulting burnt impressions have a high level of detail as the burns pass through layers of paper and also create embossed areas. They range in color from areas of rich, dense blacks to smoky sepias and watery yellows. The burns are full of light- they have a mysterious photographic quality; in some areas they look as if they are backlit.
A recent body of work is based in ruins that I studied recently in Italy. By using piles and stacks of traditional Roman glass forms, I once again connect these prints to their glass craft origins. The amphora-style forms I am using reference unearthed antiquities. That feeling of ancient, dirt-covered pieces speaks not only to the ideas of preciousness of the original object, but also extends the meaning of the print when it is completed: the final prints are brown, crusty, and damaged, like an excavated shard. These burn prints are poignant, because they exist simultaneously as aesthetic objects in their own right, and yet also speak of the object that was lost. The amphora and plate forms become symbols for the human that is not longer there. These prints remind me of other residue from events in the past- the blast shadows created by the thermic rays from the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, trick "spirit photography" from the early 1900’s, and the mysterious prints on the Shroud of Turin. More recent and for me, more resonant, I remember all the singed pieces of paper from the World Trade Center attack that drifted over my area of Brooklyn, where I was living for the past 15 years- little fragments acting as constant reminders of great loss.
Now that I am living in Amsterdam, and I find the work is taking a different path, both in the imagery and in my own way of thinking about the process. The images are more about growth and networks- a lot of the pieces are more like trees and branches and undersea animal shapes. I feel when I am working that the process is a meditation on finding the beauty in the ruins, it’s a game of recognizing the opportunity in the chance operations of the burning paper; or it’s about making something good where something was lost. The pieces maintain their memorial quality still, but also feel like a moment to see the silver lining in a potentially disastrous situation- they are about regrowth, recovery, and recognition that something lost might also be something gained.