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Artist of the Month
December 2018

Artist of the Month

Nancy Callan

Nancy Callan’s artistic voice as a glass sculptor reflects her high-level training and talents. Since attending the Massachusetts College of Art (BFA 1996), Callan has received numerous awards and residencies. She has taught advanced glassblowing, and has lectured and demonstrated her techniques worldwide. Callan was a key member of Lino Tagliapietra’s glassblowing team for 19 years. Nancy is represented by Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis, MO.

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Nancy Callan

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

“Modelli Infiniti”

After 20 years working in glass, I am amazed at how much there is to explore in the material and the process.  The quest for the perfect form matched with the ideal surface, color, and pattern inspires my sculptural work and drives my practice.  Most exciting are the new possibilities that open up through experimentation. Venetian techniques form the foundation of my vocabulary, but I am free to use them in a modern context.  This approach allows me to feel grounded in the traditions of the material but also to depart and explore the possibilities, which are indeed infinite. 

I began developing flat glass works in 2016 as a way to freely explore and document ideas for patterns and imagery. My idea was that the panels would become a sort of sketchbook – which turned out to be a much more complex proposition. After a few months of experimentation, I saw that the process of making flat panels via cylinders (which is how all window glass was made in the early industrial age) required new thinking and skills. The process itself brings element of transformation and surprise to the end product, and it can be manipulated to distort and position elements. Moving from a three-dimensional bubble to a cylinder to a flat panel is a truly unusual way to make a drawing. The design is created inside out, formed into a cylinder, and finally slumped open to reveal itself. 

By moving onto a flat plane, I accentuate the reading of these works as drawings, yet they retain their dual nature as glass objects that possess a thickness and a material presence. The lines can be embedded, contained, or layered in the glass or raised on the surface. Distortion at the edges and moments in which the patter gathers towards the pipe hint at the process, but for the most part there is a mystery to how these lines were “drawn”. The mysterious technical and alchemical aspects of glass-working contribute as well to content of the work.

“Modelli Infiniti” translates to “infinite patterns”. As an artist I am an avid collector of visual information. Imagery from the natural world is an endless source of inspiration. I also look to fashion, textiles and design for sources that spark my imagination. The Venetian glass-working techniques of cane and murrini offer a vocabulary for translating these sources as well as for pure invention and drawing. I choose this title as an homage to the rich traditions of Italian glassblowing.

About Nancy Callan

Nancy Callan’s artistic voice as a glass sculptor reflects her high-level training and talents. Callan attended the Massachusetts College of Art (BFA 1996) and lives in Seattle, WA, where she is part of the vibrant Northwest glass community.

Callan has received numerous awards including the Creative Glass Center of America Fellowship and residencies at the Museum of Glass (Tacoma, WA), The Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH), the Pittsburgh Glass Center (Pittsburgh, PA), and the Chrysler Museum (Norfolk, VA), and STARworks (Star, NC). She has taught advanced glassblowing at the Pilchuck School of Glass, Haystack Mountain School, and Penland School of Craft, and has lectured and demonstrated her techniques in Finland, Denmark, Japan, Australia and Germany. In 2011, she presented a talk at TedXEast, introducing glassblowing and her accomplishments to a wider audience. She was a key member of maestro Lino Tagliapietra’s glassblowing team for nineteen years, retiring in 2015.

Nancy Callan’s artwork can be found in the permanent collections of the Shanghai Museum of Art, Shanghai, China, The Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA, the Museum of Glass, Corning, NY, the Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI, and the Museum of Northwest Art, La Connor, WA, as well as in numerous private collections.

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Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri, for providing the materials for 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.