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Aquarium Vase
TitleAquarium Vase
Artwork DescriptionColorfully decorated on the surface, this deep blue vase also has a ribbon top edge. Five colorful spiral strands decorate part of the surface of the vase, while additional spiral and flower shapes in pastel colors extend the decorative scheme.
Artist StatementGlass unlike any other medium possesses the remarkable qualities of transparency and flexibility. This allows not only the formation of a full bodied sculpture but also the ability to create depth within the walls of the glass vessel. My imagery is directed towards creating a sense of perspective. While hot, glass can be bent, twisted and folded into complex convoluted capsules. These capsules are self contained elements full of detail and animation. I then use these elements to build a baroque surface, alive with activity, complete with the illusion of foreground and distant background. On a different level my work carries a message about boundaries. The boundaries between order and chaos. When we see structure, the edge of it's order is imposing a limit to the extent of the chaotic world in which it exists. Imposed limits induce competition and competition determines the rise and fall of empires, the survival of entire species. Metaphorically, an island represents order and the sea chaos. The shoreline defines the limit of the waters edge and the sea in turn shapes the island contour. It is this competition between what is straight and flat with that which is contorted and wrinkled which forms the glass vessels into their sinuous, coastal tracings. This struggle is echoed at every level in our environment and is the heart of the engine driving evolution. The surface of my glass depicts colorful abstractions of flora and fauna. Minerals and vapors dance in the realm between dimensions. The designs, though basically flat, two-dimensional objects, reach out towards the third dimension to suggest forms with volume. Intermingled layers of clear, tinted and opaque glasses combine with dichroic and polychromatic filigree to create a chaotic fabric. Through juxtaposition and happenstance the viewer will see new order emerging. Hidden structure can suddenly appear. I work with reflective and transparent areas. This allows some things to be seen while hiding others, evoking a sense of adventure and discovery. Most of all I want people to wonder "What's on the other side?" Illusive, defiant of straight line logic, glass lends itself well to my ideas. Intuition is the key to working this material. Hot glass is so sensitive that sometimes even a subtle breath sends it reeling. Yet the finished vessel is capable of withstanding thousands of years of admiration. Captured like a snapshot, the real life motions of fire and water are mirrored in glass. The source of my inspiration comes from the ability of glass to carry that feeling of movement. (Nowak, 1995)
LC SubjectGlass art
Glass artists
Glass craft
Glass blowing and working
Glass painting and staining
Glass sculpture
AAT Subjectdichromatic glass
glass (material)
blown glass
CreatorNowak, James E.
About the ArtistBorn in Wisconsin on Pearl Harbor Day, 1956, I am the youngest of three children. At the age of six, my family settled on Mercer Island in Washington state. My childhood was the picture book ideal raised in a quiet island community cradeled by rugged northwest mountain ranges. I began working with oils and pastels at age six and progressed to ceramics in high school. While studying mechanical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, I also taught ceramics at a local community center. In 1981 I graduated with a BSME and I began working Civil Service for the United States Navy as an assistant nuclear engineer aboard submarines. Nightly, armed with a security badge and radiation monitor, I searched the bilges of reactor compartments for obscure valves. Often, I conducted tests on reactor components and recorded measurements from various dials and meters. Following a brisk shakedown with a Geiger counter, I would sail across Puget Sound from Bremerton to Seattle to pursue my alternative life. Working nights as a nuclear engineer, my days were available to pursue glass. Studying at the Pratt School of Fine Arts in Seattle and later at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood Washington provided a foundation to establish a studio of my own. Isolated in the Southern Oregon coast wilderness for over a decade I developed my own unique style, heavily influenced by the raw grandeur of the maritime Pacific Northwest. The current studio location provides a grandeur of a different sort, the robust diversity and activity of historic Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. Here in my home town resides a core of glass workers to rival any in the world. This proximity to the abundant knowledge and skilled artisans provides the necessary fuel to propel my work to seek new heights. I learned to blow glass using the team approach. Because of this I had the good fortune of working with several very talented Northwest artist like Dale Chihuly, Flora Benjamin Moore, Richard Royal, Dante Marioni, William Morris, Karen Willenbrink, Stephan Dale Edwards, Joey Kirkpatric and Mark Eckstrand, These individuals have greatly enriched my understanding of glass. One of the most influential to myself, Dale Chihuly, provided me with the tremendous opportunity of working on one of his winter glass blowing teams held then at Pilchuck. A coordinated glass team is poetry in motion. Like a well choreographed dance each person has their part. Mine is to lead the group and with their assistance, execute the piece. Every piece and all the design on it is personally hand formed by myself. With my signature comes my vision and takes with it a little part of me. (Nowak, 1995)
Artist URL
Regional Arts CouncilThe Oregon Arts Commission has ten Regional Arts Councils that provide delivery of art services and information. The Council for this location is: Mid-Valley Arts. You may view their website at:
Award Date(s)1995
Materials/Techniqueblown glass incorporating dichronic glass
Source Formatslide
Artwork SiteSalem Oregon. Department of Transportation. Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division
Site Address1905 Lana Avenue, N. E., Salem Oregon
CountyMarion County, Oregon
Image Viewfront
Image Processing HistoryMaster tiff image captured at 4000 pixels across the long edge using SilverFast AI 6.0 software. Digital images in tiff format are archived and saved. Adobe Photoshop CS2 used to reorient and crop image, set and neutralize shadow and highlight points, adjust levels, contrast and sharpen as needed. Second production tiff saved. Color profile converted from Adobe RGB (1998) to sRGB IEC61966-2.1, resolution revised to 125 pixels, resize longer dimension to 875 pixels; save display jpeg at quality level 6.
RightsCopyright is retained by the artist or author. All rights reserved.
ContributorsUniversity of Oregon Libraries; Oregon Arts Commission
PublisherUniversity of Oregon Libraries
Digital Collection TitleUniversity of Oregon. Libraries. Oregon Public Percent for Art Digital Collection.
Contributing InstitutionContributing Institution
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