Jack Schmidt

Artist Statement

"Sometimes when asked what I do, what is my occupation, I tell people I am a “maker of things”. Not being specific creates a little mystery with a stranger. But initially it seems a bit less pretentious than other labels I give myself. That being said I also call myself a sculptor, a glassblower, or simply an artist. Whatever my title and whatever one decides to call the objects I make, I have always made things with my hands. Hand made evokes a sense of quality and uniqueness. And although this is not always the case the phrase retains a notion of integrity, which I like.

Early in my career I discovered glass. I found it to be a particularly unique and fascinating material. That fascination has never wavered. No other material responds to light like glass. Light gives glass a living component. It can scream with color, dance as a frozen liquid or be stoic and quiet. I believe I add strength and power to these characteristics by contrasting them with stainless steel and the earthy qualities of weathering mild or corten steel. The raw cut edges of the stacked sheet glass pieces I make are very intense in their reaction to both natural and artificial light. The cast forms with ground and polished edges are much quieter. The process for making these pieces is quit intense as well. Long hours of cutting and fitting individual pieces of plate glass for the stacked pieces. Making clay positives and then molds for casting glass forms and the subsequent grinding and polishing of those forms. The mocking up and fabricating of all the metal components. And then there are the blown elements which I call “stones”. This process I enjoy the most. All the color is applied to the outer most surface of the hot glass. Occasionally I draw on the hot form with a fine thread of glass to create what might look like a crack or inclusion. The form is then sandblasted and etched to give it more of a stone like quality. All the work is done in my studio and to complete a piece might take as long as eight weeks from the macquet to finished work.

Inspiration has come to me from a variety of sources over the years. One, which has lingered is the landscape. Long quiet vistas interrupted by objects jutting skyward, a yin and yang of sorts especially when the objects are man made. Figurative explorations occurred after being witness (via radio) to NASA’s first “critical event” with a space shuttle. Recent interest have taken me on a bit of a sidetrack back to simple bottle forms, relaxed and made to feel soft and fleshy, displayed on fabricated steel tables. But as often as not my pieces are exercises in composition, manipulating these materials and objects to create an interesting and stimulating experience. An object which has a feeling of oneness, self-contained and is complete in its’ existence. Sometimes I fall short but always I learn. My intent is always to please myself first then to see how others react and what they might bring to the experience of my work."

What inspires my work?

For the most part, I am inspired by the work I make, the materials I am drawn to and their specific characteristics. Glass of course is a primary focus. The other materials are meant to enhance, embellish and complete the concept.

The ideas come off the end of my pencil into a sketchbook. Once I have a visual the goal is to resolve the idea. Resolution is a transformative event and presents itself in the final product.

Influences are broad and varied. The poems of Billy Collins, paintings of Cezanne and Wm Turner, primitive Cycladic sculpture, ancient cairns, David Smith, Giacometti, the music I listen to as well as the work of my contemporaries and mentors all the way back to high school. I am energized by my environment, broad laandscapes interrupted by a small cluster of trees or buildings, crystal clean water running over smoothed stones and the smell and sounds of nature. Conversely I enjoy rummaging thru industrial scrap yards looking at the mangled remnants of industry and other human edeavors.

My work is an experience for me and then for others. The piece and concept moves on to be embellished and expanded by what others bring to that experience. It completes itself over and over again.

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