‘Blaze and Burn’

Glass art exhibition to feature
work by BSU, Anderson students

Ball State professor Cole
to lecture at Hanover College

By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(September 2012) – Brent Cole was an undergraduate art student in Cleveland when he first became drawn to the power of glass. He explains that he “enjoyed the material and especially the camaraderie that is necessary when working with hot glass.”

Brent Cole

Brent Cole

Today, Cole, 43, serves as the director of Ball State University’s Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass and is busy helping to introduce students to ways of using glass in their own work.
Cole came to Ball State three years ago when the Glick Center for Glass was being developed. Ball State is now able to offer the only graduate glass program in Indiana. Cole explains that while at most schools the glass program is an outgrowth of ceramics and equipment is housed in spaces that have been adapted to glass, the Glick Center’s state of the art building is particularly important because it was built specifically as an academic glass arts facility.
Cole finds that teaching allows him to keep a fresh approach to his own work. Having spent years using glass in his own art, he explains that it is “easy to get self-imposed limitations.” By working with artists coming to glass for the first time, it encourages him to “look at the medium with new eyes.”
Now by taking part in demonstrations and exhibitions during the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art on Sept. 29-30, Cole will have the opportunity to share his enthusiasm and knowledge with a new audience.
“Blaze and Burn,” an exhibition of glass art by 25 students and faculty of Anderson and Ball State universities, opened Sept. 5 and runs through Oct. 5 at the Hanover College’s Grenier Art Gallery. A guest lecture by Cole is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, with a reception beginning at 5 p.m. Several artists with work in the show will be on hand to discuss their art.
The exhibition is presented by the Grenier Art Gallery and the Madison Chautauqua as part of their celebration of the 50th Anniversary of American Studio Glass, which will also include demonstrations of hot glass work throughout the weekend at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St.
In 1962 ceramicist Harvey Littleton presented two groundbreaking workshops on glass blowing at the Toledo (Ohio) Museum. These seminars sought to encourage studio artists to explore the potential of glass. Glass research scientist Dominick Labino worked with Littleton to develop a small, affordable furnace where glass could be melted and worked took production out of large dedicated factories and into into small private studios where artists could experiment. While glass had been used to create functional products such as bowls and windows for centuries, this new furnace helped move glass from an industrial product to an artistic medium.
Cole believes that the passing of time has led practitioners to view themselves as “artists who use glass” rather than “glass artists.” His own work tends to be mixed media installations that incorporate blown, cast or fused glass according to the needs of the particular piece. Many pieces on display as part of “Blaze and Burn” highlight this flexibility on the part of the artists as they use glass in conjunction with media, particularly “found objects” such as logs, suitcases and spoons.
Hanover College’s Leticia Bajuyo describes the gathering as “a very special show” and says she is pleased to be bringing together the work of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students for the first show focusing on glass art during her 11 years as the director of the college’s art gallery. She is eager to show her own art students the types of work that is being done in glass as the medium continues to expand in importance throughout Indiana.
Cole said he is excited about the opportunity to demonstrate at the Chautauqua – not only to introduce the public to glass working but also to introduce his students to working in a new environment outside of their familiar studio.
The mobile unit will be a new furnace for the students to explore and will also give them the chance to talk with observers and answer their questions about the process.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize how difficult the material is to manipulate,” Cole says.
Bajuyo jokes that the hot glass demonstration during the Chautauqua is sure to appeal to “pyromaniacs” due to the fiery furnace involved. But she reflects more seriously on the almost instinctive allure that fire tends to hold.
“As humans, we’re drawn to it,” she says and notes that most people have enjoyed time around cheerful campfires or calming candles. Bajuyo believes that viewers will respond to the paradox of using fire as part of the artistic process saying, “Something that can be so destructive can be a creative tool when used in this manner, when controlled.”

• For more information, visit: http://art.hanover.edu/ or www.bsu.edu/art/glass.


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