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Artist of the Month
March 2021

Artist of the Month

Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg

Monica Guggisberg and Philip Baldwin have worked as a team for over 40 years. Theirs is a journey of continual evolution rooted in blown glass, Italian cutting techniques, and their own innovations in cold working. They use glass to tell stories about civilization, the quirks of human character, and humanity's journeys while remaining dedicated to beauty in form, shape, and color. They are represented by Bender Gallery, Asheville North Carolina.

Click on each photo to the right for a full picture.

Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

“Guggisberg and Baldwin have laid a new avenue. By joining Italian coldworking to the Swedish overlay, they have embarked upon an innovative sequence of experimentation and research not only on surfaces, but also on color and the interplay of color and texture through surface treatment. These explorations have increasingly drawn them to probe the expressive fields of textural elements. Initially soft and tactile, with the new strong angles, facets and deep cuts, the surface itself takes on a kind of fourth dimension, something sculptural that moves beyond the limits set by height, width, and volume.” - A quote from Louise Berndt, writing in Battuto 2002: Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg.

We see our involvement in glass essentially as the way we live our lives. The work done, the statements achieved in the result, the daily process of fulfilling what we do, all weave together in a way of life. It has always felt to us that that is what an artist is. It is about the "is" not the "does." Once upon a time we made tabletop glassware: clean simple designs made in repetition intended as good design, suited for functional use. We were incredibly proud of that and still are. Individual "unique" objects rather quickly joined the tabletop, and bit by bit we moved into a more singular and slightly abstract direction. This was a slow process, involving the constant mastery of new techniques, hot and cold, and the expansion of our vision to emphasize the meaning behind both the making and the result. The process trumps the result, but we are only ever left with the result! And slowly but surely, we have come to realize that our engagement with our métier is a beautiful conversation, an evolving story in which the subject matter roams ever more freely. We do not arrive at a destination – unless the destination is understood as the journey. It is a bit like kayaking down a new river: You just don't know what's waiting around the bend. And thus, you are in a thrilling encounter, as you round the bend and discover what awaits. These intense repeating moments of "now" are what we live for, while we remain steadfast in our love of material and honoring it through manual manipulation, over and over again, message building upon message, insight upon insight. Or so we dare to hope.

Most recently, in the last three or four years, our work has taken us into an exploration of the existential dilemmas facing our global civilization, while remaining determined to express these challenges with beauty and an open mind, reverential of the natural world, and our great good fortune. We have been blessed with fascinating opportunities to express these ideas, at Canterbury Cathedral in 2018 for the 100th centenary of the end of the First World War Under an Equal Sky, and now, over the past ten months (until May 30th) at the Ebeltoft Glasmuseum in Denmark, Walking in the Void.

About Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg

Monica and Philip met in Sweden 42 years ago where each of them had gone to learn the craft of blowing glass. She from Bern, in Switzerland, he from New York. Philip had a background in experiential education, Outward Bound, and nearly 10 years of running his own program based in Boston. Monica, after completing a formal apprenticeship in lampworking and opening her own studio, decided what she really wanted was blown glass at the end of a blowpipe.

In Sweden the pair had some lucky breaks: finding each other on the one hand and getting to be the first assistants for the newly opened studio of Orrefors master Wilke Adolfsson and Kosta artist/designer Ann Wolff. That opportunity put them on a fast track to learning the best of the basics. After little over two years they moved to Switzerland and set up their own hotshop in a small idyllic village north of Lausanne. Although flying in no small part by the seat of their pants, they quickly established a rigorous line of tabletop free-blown glassware and began to experiment with one-off unique pieces.

Following what was already a pattern of nomadic tendencies, they left their Swiss idyll after 20 years and moved to Paris, into a new and equally beautiful setting, this time urban, in an old railway viaduct that had been turned into a city park (and was incidentally the inspiration for New York's Highline). Here followed 15 years of urban life and practice with a growing repertoire of sculptural innovations. The sphere series began here, the three-layered color overlays and deep batutto cutting was greatly expanded, and most important of all, the boat series. The first frame pieces also started in Paris, drawing directly from the core ideas and forms of the boats. Their nomadism became increasingly entwined with their art, an autobiographical touch, even as it was also increasingly connected to the larger story of humanity.

The move to Wales six years ago was yet another act of folly hard to explain, even to themselves, but clearly a return to rural environs was at the root. This latest chapter in their journey has brought them their most challenging projects, starting with a major show at Edinburgh’s Gallery TEN using St. Mary's Cathedral as the venue, which led to the invitation to celebrate the 100th centenary at Canterbury with a series of installations, a singular honor, and a most daunting challenge. Canterbury became a portal to a deeper expression, now demonstrated through Walking in the Void, an exhibition that takes the artists to new places of discovery.

Their work is found in over 40 museums and public installations, collections worldwide, 10 books, and several awards, including the prestigious Grand Prix des Arts Appliqués in Switzerland, and the Venice Glass Prize.

To learn more please contact Bender Gallery at or 828.505.8341. To view a virtual tour of their current exhibition at Bender Gallery, click here.

Click here for the artists' CV.

Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Bender Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, for providing the Artist of the Month.

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Our Mission

The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to further the development and appreciation of art made from glass.

The Alliance informs collectors, critics and curators by encouraging and supporting museum exhibitions, university glass departments and specialized teaching programs, regional collector groups, visits to private collections, and public seminars.