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  • Thaddeus Wolfe

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Thaddeus Wolfe American Glass Artist: b. 1979. Having worked for a decade as a blower and cold-working assistant for Zimmerman and McElheny, respectively, Wolfe was baptized in the material’s opposing fires of raw craft and conceptual innovation. “I’m more of a maker than a conceptual thinker,” says Wolfe, who grew up the son of a commercial architect in Toledo, Ohio — one of the hotbeds of the 1960s studio movement. He began his glass education by wandering through the Toledo Museum of Art’s vast glass collection (in the days before the Tokyo-based architecture firm Sanaa gave it its own translucent pavilion, in 2006), then studied the medium at the Cleveland Institute of Art. “I don’t really consider myself an artist or a designer,” Wolfe says. If anything, he hopes to model his career after that of ceramic innovators Ken Price or Peter Voulkos, “a master of his craft who really took it far.” Technical proficiency aside, there is plenty of intellectual rigor that goes into his chunky forms, which evoke everything from Cubist ceramics to Chinese scholars’ rocks. Wolfe claims more immediate inspirations, too, from natural geological formations and mushrooms to his industrial Brooklyn environs. Many works begin in molds created from found Styrofoam containers or beer coolers he has carved with repeating geometric patterns that sometimes reveal avalanching accumulations of the packing material’s beads. Once the silica-plaster mold is set — he rarely ever reuses the molds because they crumble — he’ll blow a white, black, clear, or colored cup form into it, striping the hues or adding pigments, sometimes neon, that evoke both digital flashes and Abstract Expressionist swipes. “Now that I’ve got this new studio, I’d like to do more experiments,” says Wolfe. He’s looking into working with solid cast panels and making organic sculptural works in bronze and light fixtures using neon. “I love using glass as a material. It’s very addictive,” he says. “I want to challenge what it can do.”

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