Robert Dane

Music of Africa

My most recent series of sculptures are inspired by the folkloric tradition of Afro-Cuban percussion and dance. These pieces honor and celebrate the folkloric tradition of African music and how it has influenced and melded with the music and cultures of the Western Hemisphere over the last three centuries. The Music of Africa is integral to the music of all our cultures. Jazz, Blues, Rhumba, Salsa, Reggae, Bosa Nova, Country Music, and many others have a strong component of the percussion and songs that were brought here by the African people. The music that came from Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas is based not on the individual, but on the group efforts of the community. Everyone in the group plays a part in creating the music. I find a strong correlation between this community ritual and the teamwork of the Italian glassblowing tradition. These pieces are about the community created by this music and the positive vibrations we feel as we listen and participate. I hope by recognizing this tradition we can come together and move forward in love.



My "Orishas" honor and celebrate the music and culture of Africa that has been embraced and integrated into our contemporary culture. From Jazz to Blues to Country to Hip-Hop, the rhythms of Africa are embedded in the music, often without realizing their provenance. Orishas can be deities in the spirit world or humans who upon their death are recognized as deities because of their extraordinary feats. The masks are used in various rituals, that include music, song, costumes, and dance. These rituals are often celebrations of rites of passage, or worship of ancestors. These sculptures are interpretations of traditional masks, often atop depictions of percussion instruments, shekeres (beaded gourds), ashiko, djembe, and conga drums. My "Orishas" is an expression of this community, of its music, masks, drums, dancers, rituals, and identity.

The masks are blown and sculpted from inside the bubble, using colored powders and bit work. They are created with a variety of decorative techniques including murrini, overlays, lathe carving, and sandblasting.  


Robert Dane started blowing glass at Massachusetts College of Art in 1973. He has studied with Lino Tagliapietra, Pino Signoretto, Dan Dailey, Dante Marioni, and William Morris. He has exhibited his sculpture and glassware widely in galleries around the country. His work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, and the Renwick Collection of the Smithsonian Institution. From 1996 to 2016 he and his wife Jayne owned the Dane Gallery on Nantucket, where they showed Robert’s work along with the work of some of the top artists in glass and ceramics.

Robert Dane’s current work is created in his studio in the northern Berkshires of western Massachusetts. His work is influenced by the Italian tradition of glassblowing, but has a distinctly American flavor. Vibrant colors and the spontaneous improvisation of these unique designs distinguish his work in a two thousand year tradition of glassblowing.



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