Savy Janssen’s story
Imagine a world without glass. Not only would our homes be pretty darn dark, we wouldn’t have glasses, mirrors, telescopes, windshields, or fiber optics. Technological advances in surgery, lighting, telephones and the Internet would not exist. For these reasons and many more, 2022 has been declared the International Year of Glass.
“We owe the glass the ability to see, scientifically and logically, who and where we are,” says Richard Mills, professor of art at the University of Hawaii. “Glass is everywhere now, so much so that we take it for granted. ”
In honor of this priceless invention, The Courtyard’s Viewpoints Gallery in Makawao hosts “The Art of Glass”. The exhibit features pieces by more than 40 artists from across Hawai’i, including plates, vases, mosaics, and sculptures.
“Our motivation is to celebrate glass as an art and to honor what it has done to
humanity, ”explains Joëlle C. Perz, exhibition director at Points de vue.
While it is not entirely clear where and when artificial glass originated, it is believed to have been discovered by the Mesopotamians around 3,500 BC as a byproduct of metalworking. The Romans introduced the blowpipe into the mix, increasing the efficiency of production and therefore the availability and affordability of glass.
Historically, glass was used to create works of art such as decorative windows, beaded jewelry, and elaborate vases. But in America, its uses were largely pedestrian: display cases, bottles, glasses, etc. Then, in 1962, artist and professor Harvey Littleton hosted a glassblowing seminar at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio that helped popularize it. Many of his students have gone on to become renowned glass artists, including Dale Chihuly, whose whimsical glass flowers leap from the ceiling of the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Bill Worcester discovered glassblowing while studying oceanography at O’ahu in the 1970s, and he and his wife, Sally, opened a studio in Oregon. “Back then we were melting Miller [beer] bottles in the oven, ”he jokes. The couple moved to Maui and introduced glassblowing to the island.
“The Worcesters were part of the very first Viewpoints gallery exhibit in 1990,” says Perz, adding that The Courtyard owner Larry Phillips loved Sally’s work so much that he built a studio for the Worcesters, Hot Island Glass, which is always open for business across from Viewpoints.
Decades later, the Worcesters still revere both the medium and the process. “A room is built like a watercolor, layer after layer,” says Bill. “As an art form, glassblowing provides great instant gratification. ”
“It’s a medium of contradictions – how can something be visible and invisible at the same time? Miller adds. “It’s dangerous, hot and sharp, but also soft and soothing. This is what makes it attractive.
“The Art of Glass” takes place from January 22 to February 19.