Ali VandeGrift and Brennan Kasperzak
Ali VandeGrift is a glass bead maker and scientific glassblower. She has been a full time glassblower since 2004. Her current body of artwork is focused on intricate scrollwork and linear patterns. The scale of her lampwork is very large, on and over the edge of wearable. Ali is formally educated in glass, holding a degree in Scientific Glass Technology from Salem Community College.
Brennan Kasperzak is a furnace glass artist, living and working in Seattle, Washington. Starting his career in 2002 at the Glass Axis in Columbus, he went on to receive his BFA in glass from the Ohio State University in 2007. Since then he has studied, assisted, and taught in the US, Australia, Turkey, Murano, and Sweden, and has worked with artists including Thurman Statom, Chuck Lopez, and Davide Salvadore. His current body of work focuses on mountain landscapes and developing innovative techniques for attaining mountain scenes in glass.
Ali and Brennan met at Penland School of Crafts in 2008. Ali was a student in a flame-working class, and Brennan was a teacher’s assistant for Thurman Statom’s glass class. They kept in touch after leaving Penland as both of their individual work grew: Ali honed her bead-making skills and Brennan developed his mountain series. A few years later Brennan proposed making Ali’s beads large-scale. They have been collaborating on the large-scale work since spring of 2013. This dialogue of scale and translation of technique from flamework to the hot shop have opened a world of possibilities by joining their different skill sets in the creation of new and innovative works of art.
Ali and Brennan made most of their collaborative work (to date) at Pratt in Seattle, Washington, and were able to exhibit the work at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts in Lake Placid, NY in their joint exhibition, Landscapes and Lines: A Glass Collaboration of Scale and Technique. It is an exploration of how two artists with vastly different bodies of work can come together in collaboration and create an entirely new entity inspired by both visions.
The union of two ends of the glass spectrum is what sets Ali and Brennan’s collaborative work apart. They both have skills unique to their practices in glass and bringing those together in the hot shop and learning each other’s glass language has strengthened their collaborations as they have developed their techniques and widened their body of work and exploration. Bringing the hot torch into the hot shop has opened both artists’ eyes to new possibilities that they are eager to explore even further.