October 15, 2012
By Brad Copping
Marc Petrovic is proving himself to be one of the hottest sculptors of glass on the scene today. He has been pioneering the integration of the flame-working torch in the hot shop since completing his BFA at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1991, giving workshops across the continent and around the globe. He has refined his skills over the past 21 years to a very high degree, creating a vast array of provokingly detailed glass objects, which have found their place in his narrative based sculpture. His September 7th to October 6th, 2012 exhibition titled ‘Avians’ at Heller Gallery in New York City is the most recent example of the work he has been striving for, but also finds him grappling with abstraction for the first time.
Earlier this year Marc and I sat down and had a long conversation over Skype about the technical side of making the Avians and also about why he is making them. That edited conversation is presented here in a Youtube, with working photographs taken by Kelly Tonks and images of the final pieces by Marc Petrovic.
Marc also sent his artist statement regarding the Avian series, which I include for the more text minded of our readers.
My Avian series has been germinating for sometime. I made my first effort at a murrini roll-up bird for a demonstration at the 2009 Glass Art Society conference in Corning NY. During the summer of 2010, I completed two more while teaching at the Penland School of Crafts. It was not until January of 2011 that I began working on the Avians in earnest.
The blown and sculpted birds are physically formed much like we are metaphorically built; one piece or experience at a time. Brick by brick our experiences are assembled and our identity is formed. In envisioning the pattern necessary for the tablets to be rolled up and sculpted into a dimensional bird, I picture the final form of the Avian, and then mentally deconstruct and flatten the three dimensional image into a two dimensional pattern. This allows me to create flat two dimensional tablets with the coloration placed exactly where needed in order to hot sculpt the glass pattern into one of my three dimensional Avians. Conversely, in my mind, the abstracted tablets are fully realized birds… birds deconstructed.
I begin the process by choosing colored sheet glass and making patterns by stacking up sections of sheet glass. Much like the sketch lines in the beginning of a drawing, every line formed by a layer of sheet glass will be present and visible in the final piece. The stacks of colored sheet glass are fused, heated, and then pulled into lengths of 12 feet or more. After they cool, they are chopped into small slices called murrini. Compositions are made by placing the murrini one at a time with their interior design visible. Even the slightest change in the orientation of a murrini can make a dramatic difference in the final piece. These assemblages are then fused together into a single tablet. These tablets are the 2 dimensional deconstruction of the 3 dimensional forms. The flat tablets contain all of the color information for the final bird, with the exception of the beak and eyes.
To help celebrate the opening of his recent exhibition, Heller Gallery and Brooklyn Glass organized a studio demonstration in support of Urban Glass, where Marc made one of his Bullseye glass birds. That demonstration is linked here and is well worth watching after hearing him explain the process. For more images of Marc’s work visit his website or check him out on Facebook.