Out of the Vault: Soundtracks with RYAN! Feddersen

Making art from glass is time-consuming. It is an undertaking that can unfold over hours, but more often takes place over days, weeks, or even months. A great music playlist can be essential to keeping focused and staying creative. These playlists were the starting point for our exhibition Out of the Vault: Soundtracks. MOG curator Katie Buckingham sat down with RYAN! Feddersen to learn more about her work in the exhibition and creative process.

KB: Let’s start by talking about Disconnected Bison Stack. It was made at the Museum as part of your 2019 Visiting Artist residency.

RF: During the residency, I was making a series of works inspired by Columbia Plateau burden baskets. These baskets are traditionally used for food gathering, but I have been thinking about the metaphorical burdens we carry.  Disconnected Bison Stack talks about two different burdens – the first references the mass slaughter of the bison, an extremely destructive part of colonialism that continues to have ramifications today. The second set of icons relates to a previous project called Disconnected Towers. That project was inspired by the gentrification I witnessed in my neighborhood in West Seattle, where single family houses were torn down to build much more expensive, inaccessible units. Disconnected Bison Stack combines icons and symbols from both projects onto a burden basket.

KB:  I’d love to hear more about the music that you put on your playlist. Do you listen to it while you work?

RF: I listen to a lot of different things while I work, and I wanted to share some artists that I look up to. Buffy Sainte-Marie and John Trudell are icons of contemporary Native music.  Black Belt Eagle Scout and Ya Tseen are from a younger generation. I selected songs that I think are beautiful, musical pieces, but also have important social commentary. The playlist mirrors the importance of social messaging in my own work. I also really wanted to include local artists. I like listening to music, and a lot of my friends are in bands, so it was important to me to represent some local scene as well.

KB: Another aspect of being creative is where you work. I’d love to hear about your studio space.

RF: I like where I work because it feels like a time warp. My studio has low windows and, because the lighting is always the same, I have no idea how long I’ve been working on something. It is really nice to just be consumed by my process and lose track of time without distractions. I also like the ability to work in different places. I might work in my studio, but I often draw in a chair by the window (if my cats let me) or at my kitchen table. Sometimes I like to work in bars, too. Having different spaces can shift your point of view.

KB: That’s really cool. When you’re working on a new series, where do you go for inspiration?

RF: I try to bring in a lot of different references. It is like a funnel – you need to fill yourself up with a lot of ideas, and then what comes out the other side, the processing that happens, is the work that you do as an artist. My work often starts with Plateau storytelling and aesthetics, and combines with contemporary ideas. It is very important to think about the messaging within a piece, and include metaphor, symbolism, and action to reinforce its content.

KB: Do you do anything to help push through a creative block?

RF: Sometimes an idea strikes like a lightning bolt. Other times it takes a process. I noticed myself doing the same things over and over again in my sketchbook, so I made myself a brainstorming template. It has a series of lists that help me think through different lenses. For example, there is a list for content – what am I trying to communicate? And another section for thinking about material opportunities – am I working in glass? Vinyl? Acrylic? And a third list for thinking about how to integrate action and inter-activity. Then I take ideas from each list and start connecting them together.

KB: What are you working on now?

RF: Recently, I’ve been working on Coyote Now projects, which are contemporary adaptations of Coyote’s role as the trickster. I had a residency at Institute of American Indian Arts where I started working on an idea called Coyote and the Monsters Yet to Slay. One of Coyote’s jobs, when two-legged people were going to come and inhabit the world, was to slay monsters that were going to be a threat. I have been thinking about how we have all these societal monsters that still need slaying, like the economy, and about ways that Coyote could symbolically do that work for us.

Check out Ryan! Feddersen’s playlist on Spotify, and visit us at Museum of Glass to see more of our collection featured in Out of the Vault: Soundtracks.

About The Artist:
RYAN! Feddersen specializes in creating compelling site-specific installations and public artworks which invite people to consider their relationships to the environment, technology, society, and culture. She is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation from the Okanogan and Arrow Lakes bands. Her interactive murals, site-specific installations, and immersive public artworks activate spaces throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Feddersen’s work is featured in Out of the Vault: Soundtracks, currently on display at Museum of Glass and open through June 18, 2023.

Learn more and view Feddersen’s work at: http://ryanfeddersen.com/

Image credits:

  1. Photo courtesy of the artist.
  2. RYAN! Feddersen (Confederated Tribes of Colville, born 1984). Disconnected Bison Stack, Made at the Museum in 2019. Blown glass; 14 3/16 × 10 3/4 in. (36.1 × 27.3 cm). Collection of Museum of Glass, gift of the artist. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Out of the Vault: Soundtracks with D.H. McNabb

Making art from glass is time-consuming. It is an undertaking that can unfold over hours, but more often takes place over days, weeks, or even months. A great music playlist can be essential to keeping focused and staying creative. These playlists were the starting point for our exhibition Out of the Vault: Soundtracks. MOG curator Katie Buckingham sat down with D.H. McNabb to learn more about his work in the exhibition and creative process.

KB: I’d love to hear more about Horizon Study Attempt #27. Is it inspired by a specific sunrise or sunset?

DHM: They’re general – the one in Out of the Vault was inspired by the trip to Tacoma for my residency in 2018. Imagine you’re driving West – that oblong shape of the bubble is the morning sunrise in your rearview mirror. Some of my earliest sunset memories are watching the sun over where I grew up in Tampa Bay.

KB: The paint on the wall is really eye-catching. What inspired that addition?

DHM: I’ve been to a number of collectors’ homes, and they can be so crowded. You’ve got a Lino [Tagliapietra], piled on top of a Nancy [Callan], piled on top of anything. For me, the paint defines the boundary of the space so you can’t creep close to it.

KB: Let’s talk about your playlist. What do you listen to while you work?

DHM: I generally don’t listen to playlists while I work, I listen to albums. The thing with playlists is that you have to sit there and construct them. In the Hot Shop, I don’t want to be distracted. I just need some tempo in the background. Usually, we start with something kind of old school, like Miles Davis. Then something more upbeat, like DJ Shadow, followed by a long concert, like Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, or Led Zeppelin. Then we finish with something chill, like Bob Marley.

KB: Other than music, what is most essential to your creative process?

DHM: Having a great rapport with who you are working with. For years, I’ve worked with Janusz Poźniak and David Walters. They pretty much taught me how to blow glass, and then the next thing you know you’re assisting them, and then you turn around and they’re assisting you. It’s a great way to learn and to have aesthetic, have conversations with each other. Even though our works are different, you can see the visual ways we riff off each other.

KB: Where do you look for inspiration?

DHM: Well, I just look at a sunset [laughs]. But seriously, pretty much everything I liked when I was ten still holds true to me…nature, astronomy – everything from flora and fauna to the aurora borealis and stars. The only difference is that, through my undergraduate and graduate education, I can better articulate my ideas.

KB: How do you push through a creative block?

DHM: I have always fought against the worry that I won’t be able to come up with an idea. I came up with this term graduate school called “f*ckused” – where you’re so focused on something that you’re f*cked, you can’t get a new angle on it. So, I try not to get too f*ckused.

KB: So, what are you making now?

DHM: I’m continuing to think about sunrises and sunsets and have been imagining new shapes with faded colors. The latest iteration are these smart-aleck participation trophies. You know, like: “Thanks for participating sun!” Or “good job sun, that was a great sunset.” You know, “keep up the good f*cking work,” that sort of thing. I’ve been calling them Horizon Points or Sunset Trophies. Because the sun deserves an attaboy/attagirl too.

Check out D.H. McNabb’s playlist on Spotify, and visit us at Museum of Glass to see more of our collection featured in Out of the Vault: Soundtracks.

About The Artist:
D.H. McNabb’s work utilizes traditional Venetian glassblowing techniques to create mixed media pieces and installations that use glass in new and innovative ways. His artwork showcases a clever look at the world around us, inspired by everything from barware and cocktail glasses, to physical emails and potato chip bags.

McNabb’s work is featured in Out of the Vault: Soundtracks, currently on display at Museum of Glass and open through June 18, 2023.

Learn more and view McNabb’s work at: http://dhmcnabb.com/

Image credits:

  1. Photo by Tadzio © Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
  2. D.H. McNabb (American, born 1980). Horizon Study Attempt #27, Made at the Museum in 2018. Blown glass, paint and plywood; 28 × 36 × 9 in. (71.1 × 91.4 × 22.9 cm). Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of the artist. Photo courtesy of Museum of Glass.
  3. Sketches of early examples of Horizon Study. Courtesy of the artist.
  4. Viewing the sunrise through the lens of an airplane window, an early reference image for the Horizon Study series. Courtesy of the artist.

MOG @ 20 Celebration and Blown Away Watch Party and Cast Q&A

This Saturday, July 30, MOG is celebrating its 20th birthday with an all-day MOG @ 20 celebration! From 10am-5pm, stop by the Museum for a variety of family-friendly activities, performances, and demonstrations. Then, from 5pm-6pm, join us in the Hot Shop Amphitheater for a watch party of the newest season of Netflix’s hit series Blown Away, followed by a live Q&A with local artists and Season 2 cast members Minhi England and Trenton Quiocho.

The celebration will take place both inside the building and outdoors, and Museum admission will be free to everyone all day long. Artisan vendors will host a market on the Museum’s outdoor Plaza. The Hot Shop Team will give live glassblowing demonstrations, as they work alongside Visiting Artist Tanner Weiss. Musical performances by the Kareem Kandi World Orchestra, the Tacoma Banjo Club, and the Pierce College Jazz Combo will take place throughout the day in the Grand Hall. The Museum of Glass Store is hosting Marble Mania, featuring flameworking demonstrations by Blake Julich, a marble painting activity, a marble run, and more. Incalmo will host a burger bar and sell special “Chocolate Marble” truffles as a birthday treat, for those who are peckish from all the partying.

To cap off the celebrations, Blown Away cast members Minhi England and Trenton Quiocho, both Pacific Northwest locals, will join visitors and MOG staff in the Hot Shop Amphitheater for a watch party of Blown Away: Season 3, Episode 1. After the episode, visitors are invited to join in conversation with the artists in a live Q&A session, moderated by MOG curator Katie Buckingham. Just like the rest of the day, this event is free to attend. Seating will be first come, first served (and could fill up quickly), so visitors are encouraged to arrive early. Snacks will be available for purchase and Incalmo will host a cash bar to accompany the watch party.

Thank you to our sponsors Port of Tacoma and ArtsWA for their support of this event.

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:

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.

jellies-and-glass jellies-and-glass-1

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.”