This Is Becoming a Pattern
October 6 – December 22, 2023
Pattern techniques have been used for thousands of years, adorning some of the earliest known glass objects. Through technical and creative innovations, patterns in glass have continued to evolve with each new generation of maker. This is Becoming a Pattern is a collection of works by six innovative artists from around the world, who push pattern in new directions. Each uses a combination of color, tone, composition, and texture in a contemporary exploration of a traditional theme. Curated by Jason Forck. Photography by Nathan J Shaulis/Porter Loves.
From the Curator
A pattern is a repeated decorative design.
Patterns can be found everywhere.
The six artists included in Pittsburgh Glass Center’s newest exhibition use glass to create simple and complex patterns using shape, line, and color.
Step into the gallery and look closely. You’ll see how the individual elements relate and work together to create the pattern and overall flow and rhythm of the work. The muted tones used by these artists will draw you in to explore the pattern more deeply.
About the Artists
Nancy Callan grew up near Boston, MA, working as a pizza-maker, band roadie and graphic designer before attending the Massachusetts College of Art (BFA 1996). A chance peek into the hot glass studio changed the trajectory of her life; she was entranced by the fluid, glowing material and the demanding choreography of working at the furnace. In 1996 she relocated to Seattle, WA to join maestro Lino Tagliapietra’s glassblowing team, rising to a key position as his assistant and traveling internationally to teach and demonstrate the craft. Through this nineteen-year apprenticeship, Callan mastered the traditional Venetian glassblowing techniques that are the foundation of her innovative work with line, pattern and color. She continues to blaze a trail as an LGBTQ woman, helping to inspire, teach and mentor the next generation of diverse artists in glass.
Callan began exhibiting her work in the 2000s; her first solo exhibition featured vessels and sculptures made during a residency at the Creative Glass Center of America at Wheaton Village in NJ. Residencies, workshops and collaborations continue to feed her practice and create space for experimentation. An avid fan of vintage pop culture and contemporary fashion, Callan’s work brings a modern sensibility to the material and processes of hot glass working.
Nancy Callan is represented by galleries throughout North America. Her artwork is held in numerous collections including the Museum of Glass (WA), Microsoft Collection, Chrysler Museum (VA), The Mint Museum (NC), Peabody-Essex Museum (MA), Barry Museum (VA), Corning Museum of Glass (NY) and the Shanghai Museum of Glass (China).
“As an artist, I am an avid collector of visual information. The natural world is full of wonders, and I don’t have to travel far to observe its beautiful hues and patterns—they are right outside of my door. The veins of a leaf, a delicate spider web, the texture of ice or the subtle colors of the dawn sky are captivating to me. By observing these phenomena, I feel a connection to the elemental processes and animating forces of all life. When I see something that intrigues me, I begin to take it apart in my mind, considering how I might translate it into glass. Parts and details can become whole avenues of exploration unto themselves, moving the finished work far beyond the source. Art is how I explore the world and satisfy my sense of curiosity.
“My work is rooted in the Venetian glass-working traditions in which I was trained; I use processes such as cane, incalmo and murrine that are familiar to any student of historical glass, but I present them in innovative and unexpected ways. For me, they are a vocabulary from which I can build something new. I often create works in series, which allows me to develop and refine sculptural forms such as the “Droplets” with variation in color and pattern. This practice is extended in the wall panels, where I find I can explore drawing and composition most directly. The freedom to move between two and three dimensions in my current work is really exciting.”
Mel Douglas has worked as an independent studio artist since graduating from the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University in 2000. In 2020 Douglas was awarded a PhD for her practice-lead research investigating how studio glass can be understood through the aesthetics of drawing. In addition to winning the 2020 and 2014 Tom Malone Prize, a prestigious award through which a work is acquired each year into the collection of the National Gallery of Western Australia, Douglas has received several major awards including the Ranamok Glass Prize in 2002, the International Young Glass Award in 2007 from Ebeltolft.
In 2019 her work was the inaugural acquisition for the NGA’s Robert and Eugenie Bell Decorative Arts and Design Fund. Douglas’ work is held in the private collections and public institutions internationally, including the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; the Ebeltoft Museum of Glass, Denmark, and National Gallery of Australia, Australia.
Mel Douglas was Pittsburgh Glass Center’s Art on Fire Honorary Artist in 2023.
“This body of work, is a series of linear, surface and space investigations, using repeated forms and regular arrangements. All works consider the materiality of glass in relation to the characteristics of drawing, exploring the surface of glass objects, the interior, exterior and the space in between. Using directional lines on both two- and three-dimensional forms, I have established distinct planes which animate flat fields and subvert surfaces. Using pattern, logic, systems, progressions, Euclidian geometry and mathematics, flat surfaces are folded into modulated spaces.”
“Throughout her career Douglas has pursued work that has been praised as ‘quiet, but strangely energetic and animated’ and as evidence of ‘her commitment to creative experimentation and evolution with the always challenging medium of glass.’”
—Robert Cook, AGWA’s Curator of 20th Century Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Joanna Manousis is a British / American artist working in glass and mixed media. Her work has been recognized with nominations for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and a Bombay Sapphire Award Nomination for ‘Excellence in Glass’ as well as receiving the Margaret M. Mead Award and the Hans Godo Frabel Award. Joanna has participated in internationally recognized residency programs including the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; and Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France. Her work has been exhibited at Design Miami and Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland; FOG Art + Design, San Francisco; the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Ebeltoft, Denmark; and the British Glass Biennale, Stourbridge, England.
Joanna is currently pursuing a practice based PhD at The National Glass Centre through The University of Sunderland. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Alfred University, New York, and a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art–Glass from The University of Wolverhampton, England. Joanna has worked, studied, and taught in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
“There is a satisfaction in repetition. Whether looking at the configuration of a flower’s petals, the cycle of the moon, or the changing seasons, patterns help us make sense of our surroundings. Symmetrical patterns are integrated in my work as an echo to cyclical rhythms in life. For me, they bring order in what can feel like a chaotic world.
“‘Chrysalis’, ‘Electri’ and ‘Indra #2’ are created using repeated modular shapes in unique arrangements that can be scaled according to their interior, giving infinite design possibilities.
“Blown and press-moulded units contain dimensional, mirrored spaces that act as a reflective canvas, continually responding to light and its domain. Utilising graphite moulding techniques, the method of making is efficient, mitigates waste and is less impacting on the body and environment.
“‘Silver Thread’ is comprised of 5 cast glass decanters, that each hold dimensional, mirrored impressions of rope. Together the individual units act as a sequential landscape, drawing connections to the secret knots that link all of nature, both physically and spiritually.”
Corey (American b. Reston, VA 1990) received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012. He has completed residencies at The Pittsburgh Glass Center (PA), Bruket (Bodø, NO), Alfred University (NY), as well as a Core Fellowship at the Penland School of Crafts (NC). He has exhibited work at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (CA), The Contemporary Museum of Art in Raleigh (NC), and has work in the permanent collections of The Museum of Art and Design (NY), The Boston Museum of Fine Art (MA), and The Chrysler Museum of Art (VA).
Pemberton currently resides in Los Angeles, California where he splits his time between the nonprofit arts organization Crafting the Future, painting, and his glass practice. He strives to bring together people of all backgrounds and identities, breaking down stereotypes and building bridges; not only through his work with Crafting The Future but with his personal artistic practice as well.
Artist and educator, Nathan Sandberg is based in Portland, Oregon. After working in the Research & Education department at Bullseye Glass company for 8 years he started Nathans LLC in 2012 and has established himself as one of the top kiln-glass educators teaching today.
From Santa Fe to Zurich and Australia to Norway, Nathan is usually somewhere on the planet presenting fresh, innovative curriculum at a wide range of studios, schools and art centers. He is widely credited as the pioneer of the modern Vitrigraph methods which he began to develop at the Bullseye Factory in 2009 and have become one of his primary methods for creating work.
In 2015 Nathans LLC moved out of the basement and into a proper studio space in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. Today, Nathan uses OnGrade Studio as his home base and can be found there relentlessly producing work for exhibitions and developing new curriculum to teach whenever he isn’t on the road. His primary material is glass although his installations commonly make use of other materials such as wood, metal and concrete. His artwork can be found in private and public collections around the world.
“At this point in history, I take a practical-analytical approach to glassmaking. The visual patterns I create are not highly calculated or pre-planned but develop and evolve during the making process as I respond to and learn from materials.
“It seems I’m always making multiples and lining them up or otherwise arranging them for presentation. These multiples could take the form of a small number of physical objects occupying space together or hundreds of pieces of Vitrigraph cane within a panel. I have seen this theme show up repeatedly during my artmaking adventure. Even when my primary material was clay, arranging multiples was my natural approach.
“There are times I wonder if the result of the work is more or less important than the experience I had getting to the end. The process begins with an idea or a goal and quickly turns into a pattern of work that I find predictable and enjoyable, not unlike a routine. Often a task repeats itself hundreds of times and multiple tasks need to line up and happen in a certain order for the work to be efficient. At some point the process almost takes away the need to make creative, art decisions and turns into a manufacturing process full of much more pragmatic ones. Occasionally I accept the help of a computer or machine, but most of the work is done with/by hands.
“A developing goal of mine is to make glass that most if not all people can relate to, understand, and hopefully even live with. Everyone needs a table and I have kiln-formed them for years but never was this need more apparent than when I recently found myself with nothing other than a bed. Even a bed needs a side table. We prepare and eat food on tables. Meetings and conversations happen around tables and without them we’d be operating on the ground. I think everyone can relate to this.
“With few exceptions, most tables are relatively bland and their only claim to fame is their size. I want the work (table or not) to be visually rich enough to invite people to spend time with and get lost in or distracted by the subtle details no matter how big it is.”
Amanda J Simmons
I studied Glass and Architecture at Central St Martins School of Art and Design in London after previous careers as a telecommunications engineer and clinical perfusionist. Based in south west Scotland, I work with powders and sheet glass, creating 3D vessel forms using gravity. I have pursued this method for the past 20 years and still find new ways to explore the properties of mass, heat, and time to create new works. I make intense colour combinations and patterns, physically drawing into the opaque glass powders, leaving spaces in the piece for the light to react.
I have exhibited at Collect in London with Contemporary Applied Arts and at SOFA Chicago with Craft Scotland, Emerge / Evolve with Bullseye Glass at Bellevue Arts Museum and Pittsburgh Glass Centre. My man gallery representation is through London Glassblowing, Vessel in SW London, and The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. Several public collections have my work including Ernsting-Stiftung Glass Museum, Germany, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK and National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland.
“Pattern is how I communicate, it’s a visual language that represents the preliminary research into my final works. This developed as I started working with glass powders as they are so adaptable – layered, drawn into, engraved, sandblasted, printed, sculpted – and yet still very delicate. Layering of patterns in my 3D forms is about giving depth to the idea and always thinking of how light will highlight the spaces that appear once the powders are fired, and the flat blank becomes a form. “
—Amanda J Simmons
- This exhibition is made possible, in part, with support from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.
- Hear from some of the artists and curator Jason Forck in this AACG virtual gallery tour.
- See photos of the exhibition and the opening reception.
- Explore more of this exhibition in our free mobile guide.