The Geologist in the Museum | Bullseye Glass Co. | Bullseye Glass Co

The Geologist in the Museum

And the surgeon, and the research scientist, and the claims adjuster, and the architect, and the graphic designer, and the physical therapist…to name just a few of the many current and former professions of a remarkable band of artists who this spring will be featured in a group museum exhibition titled Act 2: The Next Track at the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, Washington.

Robert Leatherbarrow "Mount Harris", 2010 Kilnformed glass 13.5" x 12" x 7"

The exhibition is the brainchild of group leaders Steve Klein and Richard Parrish who assembled and shepherded a pair of unique artist residencies held in the Fall of 2009 and 2010 at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington and then went on to convince the nearby museum to show works created by the artists in the wake of their Pilchuck time.

And while the works that comprise the show make it clear what a productive wake it’s been for all of them, for me an unexpected thrill has been in reading the individual stories and impetus behind their journeys; being allowed a peek into the former and current non-glass lives that add so richly to the art they make with this material and these methods.

Bob (photo by Dr Steve)

Leatherbarrow on what brought him to glass:

Initially I was drawn to the color and translucency. However as I became involved with kilnforming, I began to realize that glass and rocks are basically the same material. Glass just has a simpler composition.

(I imagine the tectonic plates of these Leatherbarrow identities – sculptor and exploration geologist – pushing against each other and the “art-quake” that results.)

Throughout my geological education and career I analysed how minerals and rock strata behaved in response to temperature, pressure and time. The fundamentals of understanding how glass behaves in response to temperature and time were therefore well established. My research areas in geology focused on chemical reactions in rocks. This has also had direct bearing on how I understand and work with kiln‐formed glass powders.

Bob’s story is just one of twenty to be found amidst the glass works coming to MoNA this Spring. The show runs March 12 to June 12, 2011 – it’s on my calendar, I hope you’ll put it on yours.

Stay tuned here for more about the Act 2 artists and their upcoming exhibition at MoNA.

And for more on Bob, click here:

10 Responses to The Geologist in the Museum

  1. I did my first geology-inspired glass in a class I took from Steve and Jane Bruce a number of years ago. Every couple of months I pull out the pieces and mull over them. I think now’s the time to stop mulling and start doing some glass.

  2. Lani says:

    “Just Mull It” hmmmm…have you called Wieden+Kennedy with this idea?

  3. It was Bob’s work (specifically this work: that first peaked my interest in fused glass. The week I spent with him – and the rest of the incredible gang at the first residency – still ranks as one of the best weeks of my life.

  4. Okay – should have been “piqued” not “peaked” – still not enough coffee…

  5. You’re funny, Lani. I remember all the “Just Do It” buttons that the folks at Arthur Anderson wore (I was consulting with them). The unsaid FULL line was “Just Do It…we’ll fix it later.” Which, I suppose, is why I’m still here and they aren’t.

    Of course, “Just Mull It” might mean I’m hanging out with a bunch of spiced wine folks.

    Or perhaps I’m going to that little island off of Scotland that is, if I remember a map in my collection, right near “Muck”.

    But we digress…

  6. Kim Brill says:

    I have a theory that really smart people are attracted to kilnformed glass because of the technical challenges and because so much of what we do is really hard science. We get to feed the soul and solve problems at the same time. It’s like getting a two-fer!

  7. Lani says:

    Kim, I have a theory that your theory is right.

  8. @kim: Absolutely. As a trained geological engineer (though out of the biz for a LONG time) glass appeals to me because it combines the geekieness of materials with art. If you understand they physics and chemistry behind glass, it makes working with it a whole lot more predictable. You can concentrate more on the art.

  9. Kim Brill says:

    One of the many things I love about kilnformed glass is that you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. There’s something for everyone.

  10. This will be an exciting exhibition! I look forward to reading more about it!

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