Shelburne Falls, MA
Glass has held my attention for well over 40 years now, which is pretty amazing because for better or worse, I have interests that scatter me in a hundred directions. I am moved by the beauty of the night sky and other astronomical phenomena. Physics, cosmology, and the workings of the universe fascinate me, as do high temperature chemistry, powered flight and all things mechanical. I can become mesmerized by color, form, contrast, iridescence, tessellating patterns and complexity. Contradiction, paradox and magic lead me to experiment and often push me far outside my comfort zone.
Every night, the last thing I do before going to bed is walk from the house to my studio to check on the furnaces. Sometimes seeing an aurora borealis, watching a thunderstorm develop down the valley, or just looking at the sky on a perfect summer night, compels me to translate some of the wonder of the universe into my glass. This process doesn't happen in any planned way, but gradually and unpredictably. I never try to replicate what I see around me. In fact I often don't even recognize the source of inspiration until someone points it out to me later.
Glass consists of sand and metallic oxides combined with extraordinary, blinding heat. The result is a material that flows like honey. When it's hot, glass is alive. It moves gracefully and inexorably in response to gravity and centripetal force. It possesses an inner light and transcendent radiant heat that make it simultaneously one of the most rewarding and one of the most frustrating materials for an artist to work with. I try to coax and shape...the glass just wants to drip on the floor! Most of my work reflects a compromise between the molten material and me; each finished piece is a solidified moment when we both agree.
- Josh Simpson