Ethan Stern

Pushing form beyond the expected anatomy of the vessel, I use glass to investigate the emotive potential of objects. I begin each piece by creating a blown, geometric form composed of multiple layers of color and pattern. While blown glass typically reflects light and is shiny and dense in appearance, a richer, more luminous effect can be achieved by cutting into the surface after the piece has cooled. I spend the majority of my time creating patterns and textures from the simple shifts in hue, density and opacity, which are a result of the process of engraving. These engraved marks, like the stroke of a paintbrush on canvas, leave evidence of my hand and are intended to create an expressive sense of motion, rhythm, weight, and depth.

Glass is not a forgiving material. It demands an involved process and requires careful planning and manipulation. Engraving has become my voice within the medium, since it is the most direct way for me to leave my mark. My process of carving is a reductive one; I can’t add any material once it’s removed. This notion of continuously revealing layers pushes me to carefully consider each step and the choices that I make. Because of this, the process plays an important role in the development of each piece.

At the most basic level, my work is an ongoing exploration of abstraction and the expressive qualities of form, color, texture and light, yet I am also very aware of how my physical surroundings influence how these qualities manifest in each piece. I live in an urban area and work in an industrial part of Seattle. I cannot help but allow the hue of the day and the contrast between the engineered and natural landscapes permeate my sense of beauty. Translating this information into my recent work has led to imagery and form inspired by design, architecture and the visual deconstruction of my surroundings.

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