I got involved in craft at an early age with metalsmithing, making jewelry and small objects from wood, stone and other organic materials. When I first had the chance to play around with glass, I was instantly drawn to the material with delight and intrigue.
Initially, the glass objects I made revolved around researching and practicing technique. I was completely satisfied to produce an object with intriguing pattern and color, or pleasing formal qualities. The common complaint was “its pretty” or “I like the colors”. Over time I became more amenable to Harvey Litteton’s refrain: “Technique is cheap”
Then one day, i stumbled upon a dented soda can and decide to replicate it. The finished can spoke to me instantly. It was cool, It was curious. It didn’t fit in, it had no place. It was an outsider. Everyone I showed it to had a curious face. I started to hear things like “It’s just a can?” or “Why would you make something you can just pick up in the street?” I dove in deep, mimicking every piece of trash I could find. Coffee cups, energy drinks, cigarette packs, beer bottles, you name it.
As I made more and more trash, I was finding it unnecessary to follow the strict lines and shapes dictated to me by the actual trash. I became unconcerned with creating an exact replica. The inconsistencies in form or scale just didn't matter.
Each piece of trash was individual, each one strayed in a direction I didn't quite understand. An inexact object made by inexact hands and an inexact brain.I’ve witnessed people interact with the trash over the years, I’ve started to see that it exists on its own terms and claims its own ground. It speaks its own voice. People can’t quite place how they feel about it and can’t seem to square it or put in context. “Why make such ugly objects? Who does this guy think he is just putting trash on a pedestal? Thats not art. I don’t get it” or “wait, what the fuck? Thats so cool. OMG” Many who see the trash want it to be simpler than Its turning out to be for me. They want it to be perfect in its shaping and look exactly like a soda can or beer bottle despite it inaccuracies. Many viewers give the trash too much credit and let it look perfect to them. People don’t seem to want to allow for a nuance that might make the trash difficult to categorize. They want this trash to fit neatly in.
I’m also finding out that this mimicry of trash demands deeper reaction and thought from the viewer. and from myself. Making the trash has led me into an interrogation of the life cycle of plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper. I’ve investigated laws and practices revolving around resource extraction, manufacturing processes, advertising, government regulations, and lobbying. I’ve been forced to look more honestly at the impacts these objects of convenience have on environment, nutrition, consumption, and human behavior.
This trash glass series has really changed how I see glass and the reasons why I make objects. It’s been a revelation to stumble upon a body of work to pursue that doesn’t just leverage the beauty of the material. I know now that I no longer needed glamour, shine, pattern, or tradition when working with glass. In fact, I can dispense with those conventions at no peril to the finished work.