Torched: Glass Pipes
April 20, 2023 - October 1, 2023Harris - Burger Gallery
Featuring glass pipes from some of the most renowned contemporary artists, this exhibition will explore the creative possibilities of functional glass. In the early 1980s, flameworking artist Bob Snodgrass began making small color-changing glass pipes to sell at Grateful Dead concerts. The market quickly grew and a small underground glass community emerged. When the movement began, cannabis was illegal across the United States so artists needed to protect their identities from authorities who might otherwise shut down their studios or pursue legal action. While they needed to keep their artwork covert, they sought new and interesting flameworking techniques, advanced technical aspects of borosilicate glass, and explored the creative possibilities of subject matter and design.
Over the next four decades laws began to change, artists continued to create, and the market for these elaborate objects increased. What was once a taboo artform has made its way to the mainstream artworld and pipes are now being acquired by museums, sold at auctions, and collected by many. Everyday thousands of artists gather their glass rods and light their torches to make pipemaking one of the fastest growing areas of glass production. Although functionality has always been important, artists are experimenting with color, pattern, and form, taking the pipe from a utilitarian object to fine art.
Flameworking Demonstration & Discussion with Bishop Randall
September 16 & 17
SAT 11A – 2:30p | SUN 1 – 4p | HOT SHOP
Bishop Randall will demonstrate his unique flameworking techniques in the FIA’s Hot Shop while creating new original artworks.
SAT 3:30p | FIA Theater | DISCUSSION
Bishop Randall, one of the artists included in Torched: Glass Pipes, has been working in glass for 22 years and is deeply connected to history and place. Randall, who is also a poet and storyteller, will talk with artist and philanthropist Drew Kups about his career, inspiration, and the story of pipes from human’s early relationship with fire to the experiences and stories of contemporary pipemakers.
Bishop Randall currently lives in Yuba watershed along the San Juan Ridge, California, where he has immersed himself in the history and cultural inheritance of his environment. In addition to working in glass and being a student of Zen, Randall tells stories through poetry. His upcoming book of poems called Animal Droppings has been described as, “a resurgence of collective thought that the place itself has been waiting to be retold. The ending of a time, forgotten tools, medicine, songs of healing, the vision of what might come next, through the lens of everyday life.”
Drew Kups has been working in glass since 1997. He is the co-founder of the glass collective Urban Pheasant and the co-founder of The Michigan Glass Project. Since 2012, The Michigan Glass Project has hosted an annual festival highlighting pipe artists to raise funds for Art Road Detroit, a nonprofit that brings art classes back to schools. To date, the organization has raised over $500,000 and has assisted in reinstating art curricula for more than 2,200 children throughout Detroit.