Meet glass artist Matthew Szösz, who was featured in the exhibition "40 under 40: Craft Futures" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
MATTHEW SZÖSZ: I'm Matthew Szösz. I'm a glass artist. I reside in Oakland, California, and I've recently had the honor of becoming part of the Renwick Gallery permanent collection.
I came to glass by accident. I was originally trained as a furniture designer. Because of that, I never learned a lot of the traditional and immediate skill sets that people who are familiar with glass, glassblowing in particular. Because of that, I've always made my own ways of working with glass.
The Renwick purchased a piece that's from one of my better-known series. It's inflated sheet glass. They blow up like an inflatable raft, or a balloon, out of flat sheets. It’s a little bit different dynamic, and it allows the glass to actually dictate what the final shape will be. I kind of have an idea, but then the physics of the heat and the pressure actually lend the end shape to the piece. For me, that's very exciting to have the piece unfold for me as well as for everybody else.
I don't know that I've had an overarching goal in mind. It's more of a process of learning, exploring, and experimenting to find out what I'm doing and what it means and what the next thing is.
I think the thing that was really impressive about the Renwick for me and really made me excited to be here was their willingness to take risks on younger artists right now, which can be a very rare thing in such an established institution. Particularly the show that they have up right now, I think, is incredibly important in the development of the next generation of American craft artists.
I think right now is actually a very interesting time in glass. I think it's a period of transition. There are kind of natural cycles to everything. I think glass is finishing up with one cycle that has kind of made it familiar and popular in America. Right now, we're just starting to grow into a cycle where it will become a bit more complicated medium, one that relates to the larger world of contemporary art and other ideas about making a bit more than it has in a very recent past.
In anticipation of the exhibition 40 under 40: Craft Futures, on view at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum from July 20, 2012 -- February 3, 2013, the museum asked the 40 artists featured to share personal videos of themselves with our audience. Here's what Matthew Szösz submitted—enjoy!
Matthew Szösz Social Media Video, 2012 Digital video, color, sound, 1:00 Courtesy of the artist
MATTHEW SZÖSZ: My work is a constant process of trial and error. I look for interesting behaviors in material to develop new shaping processes to exploit these behaviors in order to create my pieces.
As I work I allow the material to guide my choices. This investigative method allows me to produce unexpected forms that spring from the physics of the material itself. This partnership between myself and the material dictates the look of the finished work.
Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW)
40 under 40: Craft Futures features forty artists born since 1972, the year the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s contemporary craft and decorative arts program was established at its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery.