28 March 2012

Fulbright Scholars Janis & Tate Final Report

Final Report by Michael Janis and Tim Tate regarding their Fulbright Specialist Program at the University Of Sunderland and the National Glass Center.

The bonds that were forged years ago when The City of Washington & Washington Glass School hosted the UK artists from Cohesion Glass Network art Artomatic’s Glass 3 event in Georgetown have been strengthened. Our connection with Washington, DC’s UK Sister City, Sunderland, the National Glass Center and the University of Sunderland; will continue throughout our careers. While our mission as Fulbright Scholars was to impart information, we leave having learned many lessons.

Our time in England began with presentations of our artwork and discussions of on new directions the glass world was embracing, such as Glass Secessionism, where artists are looking to move from the aesthetic of pure technique, materials and process and are advancing glass as a medium of sculptural expression in the narrative realm. The participants in the audiences came from the student body of the University as well as working artists from Sunderland, Newcastle, even as far away as Edinburgh, Scotland. The audience stayed long after the talk, and topics from the discussion continued to come up during our entire Fulbright program stay (and indeed, afterwards via the internet) showing the strong relevance of the concepts.

We created workshops for both the National Glass Center and Sunderland’s Creative Cohesion studio; the city’s artist incubator (that, in fact, used the Washington Glass School as its educational and business model). The City of Sunderland invited us to speak with students at a local secondary school during our stay, where we talked about careers in art. We also worked with the Leaders of the University’s Glass and Ceramics program and outlined methods we could extend the cooperative agreement that exists between Sunderland and Washington, DC.

The British tertiary arts education system is different from the US university model. Their MA program blends an MFA and BFA into a very concentrated program. The amount of expertise, materials and techniques they make available to students seems staggering. Sunderland’s may be the finest glass program in the world. With the National Glass Center, the physical space alone dwarfs any facility in the US (or even if one combined the arts centers of Pilchuck, Penland, Corning into one place). The University of Sunderland also offer a doctorate in glass, which is similar to an MFA, though the focus is research, as this is one of the primary methods for the University to receive funds. At the end of a student’s time at Sunderland University, they have a much broader base of knowledge regarding glass and its parameters. In many ways the educational system in the UK is ahead of the US, especially in how they treat glass sculpturally.

Our talks with the students included observations on the differences between the art practices of the two countries. The gallery/collector focus on technique driven vessels that drove the US Studio Glass Movement for over 40 years did not occur to the same extent in England. Instead of being gallery driven, the UK arts education sector seems to be more exhibition and grant driven. University and museum -sponsored art shows are more common as the way an artist would establish themselves. With this as their foundation, artists do not find it as necessary to focus on a single form. They are able operate with the freedom of each installation being potentially a different medium, voice, direction (though many times I would have liked to see the directions pushed much further.) In the US, with the galleries / collector based system, there exists the perception that an artist’s work be recognized for a particular form and for the work be within a series format.

The courses we held at the University included a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, and the workshops allowed and encouraged students working in different modules to interact. We found the students of the University to be some of the most engaged and accomplished students we have ever worked with. They wanted to absorb as much information as possible. Their energy was refreshing, and we added another workshop and added one talk more into the schedule.

Our final discussion was on Artist Covenant’s and how artists can create a network using social media as a way to support each other as a group. This informal talk was packed, standing room only. The artists were voracious in seeking advice on how to get their work seen and recognized. We hope we have helped energize them and perhaps rally them to work together towards their common good. The interest and respect we received from the students was over-whelming. Many of the artists have connected to us online.

We would like to thank all those who made this academic interaction possible: The Fulbright Commission, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), The University of Sunderland and the National Glass Center, The City of Sunderland and Creative Cohesion. Each in their own way has made our visit into a life changing experience.

Our mission is to now to reflect and contemplate on not only what we have achieved, but to think of ways on how best to extend our hand and continue our symbiotic and synergistic relationship so that it will not only survive but thrive.

Lets all bridge the Atlantic for many more decades.

Tim Tate & Michael Janis , Co-Directors, Washington Glass School

27 March 2012

Dinner with the Board of University of Sunderland and More Workshops!

UK based glass artist Jeffrey Sarmiento shows Michael Janis his artwork. I'm sure he has not yet noticed the panel I'm holding is missing yet.

Artist Jeffrey Sarmiento popped into the University of Sunderland's Architectural Glass studio where our Fulbright workshop classes were being held with an invitation to show how he uses the National Glass Center's waterjet to cut intricate and delicate glass elements for his artwork. Naturally, I was excited to see 1.) how the waterjet works and 2.) Jeffrey at work.

Jeffrey Sarmiento and Michael Janis

Jeffrey offered to make one of the component layers for the demo piece I was using to show how the sgraffito process can be achieved in glass, and he explained the process. We looked thru some of his images that were in the computer to save time, and selected one of his images of the nearby Tyne bridge that was part of his series "Invisible Cities".

Using a CADD program, Jeffrey cleans up the cut-off sections and outlines areas that will be positive or negative.

Jeffrey checks on the initialization of the process.

The pressurized water cuts through the glass and wood support panel.

The grit overflow tub.

The compressor unit located beyond the waterjet machinery.

The verticals of the waterjet cut Bullseye glass panel section are 3mm (less than 1/8") thick.

Jeffrey pulls apart and assembles the positive and negative.

The connector nibs are pulled off each element.

The panels section loaded and fused in the kiln.

The fired panel integrated into the demo piece.

Washington Glass Fulbright duo of Michael Janis & Tim Tate (plus Kay Janis as chaperone) soldiered on with dinner at the National Glass Centre, hosted by the University of Sunderland Board of Directors. The food at the dinner was a treat - my first Yorkshire Pudding. I was told that Yorkshire pudding and was told the story that the origins of the dish was to provide a cheap way to fill the diners - thus stretching a lesser amount of the more expensive ingredients as the Yorkshire pudding was traditionally served first. The dinner was nothing but elegant.

L-R Fulbright Scholar Tim Tate; Graeme Thompson, Dean of Faculty of Arts, Design and Media; Dr Kevin Petrie, Leader of Glass & Ceramics; (not shown in photo Shirley Atkinson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor; Peter Fidler CBE Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive and James Bustard, Director of the NGC).

The Yorkshire Pudding served.

L-R Cathy Barnes, Chair of the NGC Board; Kay Janis; Chris Jobe, Governor of the Board

For dessert, Tim Tate said he hoped it would be the traditional English (and to American sensibilities, questionably named) "spotted dick". We were served a beautiful light custard filled confection that was dubbed "spotted hemorroid" as a way to keep in the spirit of the night.

Though not "lite" in the sense of calories, it was a delectable, light dessert that was served.

It was a lovely, fun evening that was filled with discussions on how we can create opportunities in both countries that would facilitate the exchange artists, ideas and ways we can strengthen the relationships we have developed.

We had time for one more workshop, held at Sunderland's not-for-profit artist center, Creative Cohesion.
This was to be a much more casual workshop, more a conversation - about the differences in the perceived US and the UK approach towards art and education, the changes that social media had on the art world, how artists can survive in tough economic times, the advantages of creating artist covenants.

Anne Tye, the Creative Industries Development Manager at Sunderland City Council introduces Tim and Michael to a packed audience.

The talks were packed with artists from Sunderland, Newcastle - as far away as Edinburgh, Scotland.

Tim Tate tells all.

The evening talk was the last of our scheduled Fulbright Scholar events. Our short project length had us fly out of town the next morning, heading back to Washington very early.

UK Artist profiles Part 3:

Andrew Livingston

Andrew Livingston works as an artist and is also Leader of CARCuos Ceramic Arts Research Center and MA Ceramics Program Leader at the University of Sunderland, The National Glass Center, Sunderland, UK.

Andrew’s work uses a range of media which acknowledges the interface between both traditional practice and new media. His continued exploration aims to challenge and expand contemporary locations in respect of the traditional positioning of ceramics. The integration of digital media and new technologies has become central to his artwork where new media is often positioned and juxtaposed with more traditional elements.

Andrew's Parallax View series works in creating a fresh perspective on Tullie House's porcelain collection and explores preconceived notions of ceramics.

Surfeit 621 621 cast ceramic components, looped video, and drawings made from clay & graphite.

Britannia. ceramic and glass vitrine.

Roger Tye

Roger Tye graduated from Manchester Poly in 1975 with a BA(Hons) in 3D Design - Glass and Metal. Roger to concentrate his work on sculptural and installation pieces that integrated glass and other media. Roger is the guiding force of the new not-for-profit artist studio – Creative Cohesion, located in Sunderland. Though Roger often works in creating beautiful traditional blown glass forms, he also works with slate and cast glass.

glass and slate

cast glass sheep, slate and steel

Up next posting: One more workshop video link and final thoughts on the Fulbright program.
Click HERE to jump to first posting about the Sunderland trip.

Click HERE to jump to the start of the postings about some of the super-cool UK artists.

25 March 2012

London Affordable Art Fair & Imagery In Glass

2012 London Affordable Art Fair held at London's Battersea Park.

The first big workshop, Bas-Relief dry plaster casting at the UK's National Glass Center had gone well (phew!) The Sunderland arts organization, Creative Cohesion, was participating in the London Affordable Art Fair and had invited Tim Tate and I to exhibit our work in the contemporary art show. Which we readily agreed. Tim, my wife Kay & I jumped on a train down to London, and joined the exhibitors at the fair that had opened a couple of days earlier.

Kay Janis watches the North Sea whizz by on the train to London.

Crowd watching is part of the fun of an art fair and at London AAF it included celebrity-sightings of Johnny Depp and Joanna Lumley (Joanna looks loverly, BTW)

Tim Tate's artwork was featured in the Creative Cohesion Booth.

L-R Dinner with the Creative Cohesion artists Kay Janis, Tim Tate, Robyn Townsend, Joanne Mitchell, Roger Tye, Anne Tye

Tim Tate tuckered out on return train trip.

Our time in London was too short, soon we were back on the train to Sunderland, and preparing for my multi-day class "Imagery in Glass" that was held in the Architectural Glass Studio of the National Glass Center.

Outlining the basics for getting detailed imagery into fused glass.

Showing the different glass powder tools and how an artist can manipulate imagery.

The master level class is tasked with creating a number of sample panels.

Students drew inspiration from the view over the river.

The first firing of glass powder imagery.

Reviewing fused glass samples with class.

Discussing options for creating effects within the layered imagery.

Jeffrey Sarmiento created a component layer for the class demo project - the artwork suggests creating bridges between the art communities.

University of Sunderland Artists Part 2:
Jeffrey Sarmiento

Jeffrey Sarmiento was recently appointed Reader in Glass at the National Glass Center at the University of Sunderland. A Filipino-American artist, he holds an MFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design. His research has led him to work widely in the US and Europe, having been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship Denmark. He was also a finalist for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the Bombay Sapphire Prize. His most recent project is a 600kg glass map, permanently housed in the new Museum of Liverpool.

Liverpool Map Jeffrey Sarmiento and Inge Panneels, 2010

Bombay Encyclopedia

Jeffery Sarmiento talks about his work "Ossify"

Ossify 2010 British Glass Biennale Award Runner up

Emotional Leak Jeffrey Sarmiento & Erin Dickson, 2011

Cate Watkinson

Cate Watkinson trained in 3-D Design, Glass with Ceramics at Sunderland Polytechnic.After leaving college Cate worked in Cambridge and the Channel Islands before returning to the North East to set up her architectural glass studio. Cate continues to run her business, Watkinson Glass Associates, while teaching at the University of Sunderland.

Over the years Cate has built on her experience, optimizing developments in new technologies, including new developments and techniques in construction. She has successfully completed a varied range of commissioned projects from glass public seating in city centers to a 22’ high sculpture for a shopping mall. From a stained glass window for Newcastle Cathedral to a laminated glass screen for the Arrivals Hall at Newcastle International Airport in the UK.

Other research activities include exploring the use of text and light through the public art commission entitled `Total Policing', a glass and stainless steel sculpture situated at the front of the new head quarters for Northumbria Police in North Tyneside.

Total Policing

Baltic Business Quarter Public art/seating made with recycled glass.


Next Up - Creative Cohesion artist development talk, dinner with the Uni Board, and more great UK artists!