The artists on exhibit at the Maurine Littleton Gallery bring to life an otherwise cold and transparent medium in their glass art, which flaunts dimensions and depth of color unmatched by other art media. Contemporary glass art by local artists, including the “Macchia” collection by the internationally renowned Dale Chihuly, has been displayed at the gallery since its opening in 1984, each work reflecting new interpretations and uses of a range of traditional craft media.
Michael Janis, a D.C. native and a director at the Washington Glass School, experiments with dimension in his fused-glass art. He carefully crafts images on sheets of glass by funneling fine glass powder onto the sheets, which he then uses various tools to move and shape. The sheets are fused together in a kiln to create one panel of glass, but the layering adds an unexpected depth and sense of perspective to the images. A former architect, Janis explores buildings from different perspectives in his art, which has won him recognition and acclaim in recent years. The Florida Glass Art Alliance named him Outstanding Emerging Artist in 2009, and Janis recently received a Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.
Fables and fairytales are represented in the work of Allegra Marquart, who uses the images in her art to explore broader themes associated with the subject matter. Her process involves a different layering approach, in which she spreads a granulated glass material called “frit” over a smooth panel of glass. Placed in a kiln, the loose material melts and fuses with the panel to create a textured surface in which she carves images in relief. The result is like that of a print or stamp and uses dimension and color to create contrast. Marquart formerly taught printmaking at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and now enjoys retirement from her home in Baltimore.
An important element of glass art lies in the interaction between light and color in the work, an aspect embraced by Therman Statom in his constructed glasswork. Statom experiments with dimension, shape, color and light in his glass sculptures to tell a story or explore a school of thought. His ladders and miniature houses are on exhibit at the Maurine Littleton Gallery, but he is internationally recognized for his full installations such as those on exhibit at the Los Angeles International Airport, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués/Contemporain in Lausanne, Switzerland. Statum studied at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design and has been recognized by critics as one of the most influential and significant American experimental glass artists.
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Harvey Littleton’s involvement in founding the Studio Glass Movement. Maurine is in the process of compiling his father’s biography with the intention of publishing it in honor of the anniversary. The Corning Museum of Glass in New York and the Chazen Museum of Art in Wisconsin will feature exhibitions showcasing the glasswork of Harvey Littleton in the next year.