Artist Interview: Reflecting on Pearl Dick’s First Visiting Artist Residency

Pearl Dick. Us, 2017. Blown, sculpted glass; 12 1/2 x 16 x 6 inches. Photo by Randy Korwin, courtesy of the National Liberty Museum.

Pearl Dick’s Visiting Artist Residency was initially scheduled for 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. With this being her first residency at Museum of Glass, which began on July 14, 2021, both parties were anxious to join forces. During Dick’s week-long residency, she worked on pieces from her Sculpted Heads series. Her previous work from this series is currently on display in Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, available to view through summer 2021. Luckily before Dick had left the Pacific Northwest to head back home to Chicago, we had some time to reflect on her first residency at Museum of Glass.

Pearl Dick working with the Team in the MOG Hot Shop.

How about a few fun questions to start? Did you do any exploring while here in Tacoma, WA? If so, what was your favorite spot?

Pearl Dick: I was really excited to visit Hilltop Artists while I was in town. I have been aware of and working with folks from that program for a while now, so was great to get to see it all in person!

What is the first thing you have planned to do when traveling back to Chicago, IL?

Pearl Dick: We had a community bike ride the day after I got back to Chicago, visiting historical sites on the South side of Chicago as part of an initiative we are involved with acknowledging and commemorating the Chicago Race Riots of 1919. Over 400 people showed up for the ride. Firebird presented prototypes of the memorial glass markers we are creating to be installed in city sidewalks where people were killed during this atrocity.

Can you tell us more about the organizations you work with back in Chicago? Specifically, Project FIRE and Firebird Community Arts?

Pearl Dick: I am the Artistic Director of Firebird Community Arts, a non-profit organization based on the West side of Chicago. We work to connect people through the healing aspects of art-making and community-building. We are a woman-led, all-inclusive studio providing access to glassblowing and ceramics. Project FIRE is our flagship program. F.I.R.E. stands for Fearless Initiative for Recovery and Empowerment. This program is designed to promote healing through glass and ceramics for young people in Chicago who have been injured by gun violence.

Now let’s talk about your residency! This was your first Visiting Artist Residency here at Museum of Glass. What did you enjoy most about working in the MOG Hot Shop, and how did the atmosphere shape your work?

Pearl Dick: Oh man! I can’t say enough about this MOG Hot Shop team!! They are truly remarkable artists, technicians, and all-around wonderful humans. I was able to make pieces that had eluded me with their expert help. The whole MOG crew, in fact, was on point. This was a pinnacle of my artistic journey so far and really refreshed my love of making my own art since so much of my energy over the last decade has been devoted to my community work. This residency was truly a gift and I feel even more inspired to bring that energy home.

Your work is currently featured within Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, and you took some time to discuss these pieces on Transparent Conversations last week. Could you tell us about the art you created during this residency and how it relates to other pieces within this body of work?

Pearl Dick: It was an honor to be included in this show and amazing to get to see it beautifully displayed at MOG–and to get to create my work in the residency with Sarah Gilbert in the hot shop, who was also a part of this exhibition was extra special for me. All of the work we made during this residency spoke to the themes of connection and relationship, which is what my work in Transparency was about. We added some elements of color and connection and scale that elevated this message.

Lastly, can you let everyone know where they can see your art or plan to see the work you completed during this Visiting Artist Residency?

Pearl Dick: One of my favorite pieces created during this residency will stay with you all at the museum, which is also a huge honor to have my work created with your team become a part of the permanent collection. One of the pieces has a technical anomaly so I get to keep that one, which I am not sad about. I have yet to see the other finished pieces so I will wait to get them back to Chicago and decide where they go from there, but I imagine I will probably live with them for a minute and replay the awesome experience I had creating these before I send them out into the world.

Pearl Dick’s work ready to be worked in the Cold Shop after her Visiting Artist Residency.

About The Artist:
Artist and educator, Pearl Dick specializes in glass and art making as a means for expression and healing. Drawing from her life and observations, Dick’s work speaks to our human connection. From the relationships that span a lifetime to the casual interactions that last only an instant, no connection is insignificant. Her work, whether in glass or paint, is meant to spark a memory, feeling, or emotion within the viewer that is deeply personal—in those moments, her work becomes universal. 

Dick’s work is featured in Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, currently on display at Museum of Glass, and open through September 6, 2021.

Learn more and view Dick’s work at:
pearldick.com/studio

GLASS BREAK: Sarah Gilbert

Pride month may be over, but for the month of July, Glass Break will be highlighting LGBTQ+ artists ALL MONTH LONG. If you don’t know what Glass Break is, here’s a little background. Glass Break is a new video series exploring topics related to all things glass. This series includes interviews with the MOG Hot Shop Team discussing their experience working with the featured Visiting Artists, past clips of live glassblowing, and much more.

This week MOG’s own Sarah Gilbert will be featured with some throwback footage from her most recent residency in the Hot Shop.

Tune in Friday, July 10 at 1pm and enjoy a Glass Break with MOG!

View the live stream at: museumofglass.org/the-hot-shop

About the artist: Sarah Gilbert received her BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2005. Utilizing glass to communicate a narrative, Gilbert catalogs and documents the stories of daily life. Her work has been shown around the world and she was recently a Hauberg Fellow at Pilchuck Glass School. Gilbert was also chosen as part of Young Glass, the competitively juried international exhibition featuring the work of emerging artists working in glass, held once a decade at Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark.

Learn more about Gilbert and follow her work at:

Lessons Learned Through Hot Shop Heroes

By Chad Widmer, Hot Shop Heroes student

In the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire glassmaking classes, I’ve observed that there are a lot of life lessons in glassblowing. For example, always keep the glass turning and don’t let it get off center. If you keep turning when you are off center, you will get horribly out of shape! Let go of things that don’t go right—just make another one. Sometimes you just have to work with what you get. You can shape things when they are ready, but if they are not, you might break something if you force it. And, make gravity your friend—sound advice for any profession.

I suppose, what we veterans are doing in the Hot Shop Heroes program is art therapy. For me, it is making a difference. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to anything. The civilian world is just different than the military world. I’ve been out for a while and it’s good to be around people who speak the same language again. I am genuinely happy to see everyone at the start of each Hot Shop Heroes session, and I am deeply disappointed if I miss one. We are working on teams again. We look out for each other by shielding with paddles, opening the furnace doors, and watching each other’s sculptures progress. Nothing beats seeing the genuine joy in someone’s eyes when they blow cap a bubble for the first time.

In my day job, I am a marine biologist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (I used the GI Bill and Army College fund to pay for college). I designed and curated the jellyfish exhibition, which exemplifies jellyfish as living art. The exhibit is filled with jellyfish, paintings, sculpture, and music. Glass is of course a natural fit. I’ve been adding pieces we have made in class inside of my jellyfish displays.

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As I progress, I hope to add some amazing substrates for deep-sea creatures to live on—stay tuned. The thing I love most about working with glass is that with enough practice you can make anything you want. I love that freedom.

People sometimes say, “Thank you for your service.” I don’t know how to respond to that… but I can now sincerely say to the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Heroes program, “Thank you for making it worth it.”

Behind the Gray Walls: Installing Into the Deep

By Katie Buckingham, Assistant Curator

Most of my job is a lot like every other office job. My desk is in a cubicle, and I usually spend my days attending meetings and hopping between Word, Excel, and Microsoft Office. But, one of my favorite parts of my job is when I get to escape my desk and step behind our gray temporary walls to install the art in our exhibitions.

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Working on one of our newest exhibitions, Into the Deep, is one of my favorite projects so far – partially because the work in the exhibition presented some interesting challenges, and partially (ok, mostly) because it is a show I’ve been working on curating for almost two years. It was an amazing experience to finally meet artwork I had only seen in photos and to stand in 3D space that I had only been visualizing on paper.

One of my curatorial goals was to give visitors a sense of the diverse number of ways you can use glass to make art. To fulfill this goal I looked for artwork that was as different as possible from the hand-sculpted vase or bowl many you probably have at home. This goal had a fun side-effect for me – several of the pieces in the exhibition presented our Curatorial team with some unique installation challenges.

Blue Dome, by Seattle-based artist Kait Rhoads, is a giant (almost 9-foot tall) dome covered with individual blue glass scales. Visitors are encouraged to stand inside the dome and look up to feel like they are standing underwater.

Kait Rhoads (American, born 1995). Blue Dome, 1995. Single-strength plate glass, cut, drilled and fired with glass enamels; Courtesy of the artist.
Kait Rhoads (American, born 1995). Blue Dome, 1995. Single-strength plate glass, cut, drilled and fired with glass enamels; Courtesy of the artist.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to attach each of the scales individually. The dome structure is made from a sturdy, steel frame. Kait Rhoads created a system where sheets of scales (attached individually to chicken wire) could be hung in sections across the metal frame.

Artist Kait Rhoads (in center of dome) works with MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro to connect a section of glass scales to the steel frame. On the left of the frame, you can see small tags that are used to mark the connection points for the sections of scales.
Artist Kait Rhoads (in center of dome) works with MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro to connect a section of glass scales to the steel frame. On the left of the frame, you can see small tags that are used to mark the connection points for the sections of scales.

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Art installation is definitely a team effort. Here, Rebecca Engelhardt (MOG’s Exhibition/Collections Manager) and Kait Rhoads hold a section of scales on the outside of the dome, while art handler Elizabeth Mauro secures the section to the frame with wire.

It took a team of 4 people almost 6 hours to install Blue Dome.
It took a team of four people almost six hours to install Blue Dome.

Two Seas, by Shayna Leib is another piece which took a whole team to hang on the wall. Leib is an avid scuba diver, and each of the frames in this piece represent species of coral, sea grass, or anemone seen through the lens of her underwater camera. Each of the frames is teeming with life, made from fragile, individually-sculpted pieces of glass.

Shayna Leib (Americna, born 1975). Two Seas, 2012. Glass, silver leaf and resin; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Eric Tadsen.
Shayna Leib (Americna, born 1975). Two Seas, 2012. Glass, silver leaf and resin; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Eric Tadsen.

Each of the picture frames arrived carefully packed in individual boxes, which were shipped together in a large, padded wooden crate. We unpacked and cleaned each piece of glass, using Q-Tips, glass cleaner, and canned air to dust the crevices between each glass tentacle.

A large table is set up in the galleries so each piece can be cleaned and prepared to hang on the wall.
A large table is set up in the galleries so each piece can be cleaned and prepared to hang on the wall.

Parts of Two Seas were so detailed that we had to use Q-Tips to make sure all of the surfaces were sparkly and clean. Leib uses tweezers to set each piece of glass individually into resin, and in doing so creates the effect of the individually drifting tentacles of anemones.
Parts of Two Seas were so detailed that we had to use Q-Tips to make sure all of the surfaces were sparkly and clean. Leib uses tweezers to set each piece of glass individually into resin, and in doing so creates the effect of the individually drifting tentacles of anemones.

Often, artists will provide a template along with the artwork, so that we can hang a piece on the wall to their specifications. This is especially important for a piece like Two Seas, where the frames have to hang in a grid, but close enough together so that some of the glass tentacles from adjacent frames have the appearance of overlapping with each other.

MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro marks the template for on the wall. By hanging the template on the wall using a level, she is able to push a nail through the paper template, leaving a mark on the wall where each mount needs to be attached.
MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro marks the template for on the wall. By hanging the template on the wall using a level, she is able to push a nail through the paper template, leaving a mark on the wall where each mount needs to be attached.

Each of the framed glass pieces is attached to the wall using a french cleat. A french cleat is made from two pieces of wood, cut at a corresponding angle. One half of the cleat is attached to the wall, and the other to the top of the piece of artwork (see diagram below). The wood is cut at a steep angle, which act like two puzzle pieces, locking together to secure the artwork to the wall.

The diagonal cut in a French cleat creates two puzzle pieces which lock together to secure the artwork on the wall.
The diagonal cut in a french cleat creates two puzzle pieces which lock together to secure the artwork on the wall.

Elizabeth attaches the French cleat for piece #3 to the wall, and double-checks that it is level. The small pieces of blue tape are points marked from the template where the other French cleats will be attached.
Elizabeth attaches the french cleat for piece #3 to the wall, and double-checks that it is level. The small pieces of blue tape are points marked from the template where the other French cleats will be attached.

After all of the french cleats are attached to the wall, we can hang each of the frames. Here, Elizabeth is wearing gloves to keep the glass clean.
After all of the french cleats are attached to the wall, we can hang each of the frames. Here, Elizabeth is wearing gloves to keep the glass clean.

Halfway finished! Two Seas is made of 13 framed glass compositions, which are each hung individually to the wall. Each frame is assigned a unique number, so we know which frame goes where, as well as which french cleat to use.
Halfway finished! Two Seas is made of 13 framed glass compositions, which are each hung individually to the wall. Each frame is assigned a unique number, so we know which frame goes where, as well as which french cleat to use.

Now complete, Two Seas is featured on the title wall of Into the Deep.
Now complete, Two Seas is featured on the title wall of Into the Deep.

These two pieces are just the tip of the iceberg (or should I say reef). I hope you can come down to Museum of Glass and dive on into the rest of the exhibition. Into the Deep is open through September 2017. Check out our calendar at http://museumofglass.org/event-calendar to learn more about events and activities related to the exhibition.

Katie Buckingham is the Assistant Curator at Museum of Glass. She is an alumnus of Whitman College (BA) and University of Washington (MA). In her life outside of the Museum she is outside as much as possible, wearing skis as often as she does hiking boots.   

Five Minutes with Simone Fezer

Every year, Museum of Glass invites artists to apply for a Visiting Artist Residency in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop. These residencies allow artists to explore new techniques or continue a current series with the assistance of the Museum’s Hot Shop Team.

Approximately four applicants receive residencies every year, and this year Simone Fezer from Stuttgart, Germany, is one of MOG’s Application Visiting Artists.

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Photo courtesy of Simone Fezer.

MOG caught up with Fezer before her residency this week.

I applied for a Visiting Artist Residency at Museum of Glass because…

I love traveling and working with people all over the world because that’s how you really get to enter the places you’re going to. Plus, of course, it’s a great opportunity! To be given the chance to work with a larger and skilled team is a luxury, and allows me to develop my work without the economic pressure of having to succeed at all costs.

The thing I enjoy most about working in glass is…

The different levels. I love making glass, love the physical process and the challenge, love being in the moment, dancing…Then I love the many facets of glass, its different aspects: reflecting, altering, breaking and transmitting light, its fragility and translucency, its fluidity and rigidity, its many implications as a vessel, a lense, a window, a container…

Simone Fezer. Dryad, 2013. Free-sculpted and blown glass, assembled hot. 25 x 20 x 30 cm. Photo by Jeroen Kuiper. Courtesy of the artist.
Simone Fezer. Dryad, 2013. Free-sculpted and blown glass, assembled hot. 25 x 20 x 30 cm. Photo by Jeroen Kuiper. Courtesy of the artist.

When I am not working, I am…

Outside.

If I wasn’t working with glass, I would work with…

Iron and steel, textiles and wood. As I actually am.

During my residency, I plan to…

Explore and have fun, try out things, push the boundaries…

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Simone Fezer working in the Hot Shop from October 5 through 9, or watch her residency online.