What is Glass Secessionism? Glass Secessionism is a movement started (on Facebook and at his school in Washington DC) by artist and educator Tim Tate. I applaud the audacity of anyone who starts an art movement, regardless of what its all about! Holy moly—after being a studio artist and a teacher, that anyone would have the energy to spare is admirable, to say the least.
The tenets of Glass Secessionism are covered in Tim’s essay and I heartily encourage you to please read the piece for yourself.Much of the gist of it is:
“My premise is that to succeed in glass in the 21st century, we have to secede from 20th Century founded Studio Glass. The Studio Glass model was firmly in place. It was time to integrate into the Fine Art World. What we needed was a bridge between these two worlds, to assist in this transition which was coming so very quickly.”
“However, we believe that great art should be driven primarily by artistic vision, and technique should facilitate the vision. For too long, technique has driven the majority of studio glass. As Secessionists we do not seek to isolate ourselves from other artists working in glass, but to enhance the field as a whole.”
OK!!! Back to me! The horrifying has happened and I have a public-ish platform for my opinion and, amazingly, some people even take me seriously. Since I am mentioned in the Glass Secessionism manifesto and am an active participant on the movement’s Facebook page, I thought, perhaps, I should say something about it…so here we go…
(DISCLAIMER! I count Tim Tate amongst my dear friends and am a fan of his artwork.)
I have some issues, surprise, surprise!
(Some are petty gripes with the way the history is delineated. It was my experience that this dialectic between conceptualism and technique has been there a lot longer than since the early aughts. But that's really a detail. Why not claim Duchamp's "The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even" as the first Seecessionist piece? If for no other reason than he only claimed it was finished when the darned thing broke.)
I am as fed up as the next guy/gal with stoooopid glass objects. But I refuse to only disparage the ones that are insufferably idiotic because they are “too techniquey” any more than the ones that are guilty of lame-ass conceptualizing. Why, oh why do we have to go there all the time? There being the place where production is severed from inspiration.
The manifesto expressly states: “It [Glass Secessionism] tends to start with an idea or concept rather than perfecting or exploring a technique.” Uh oh! I have a big, big problem with this. My main issue with the Glass Secessionism manifesto is it’s prioritizing of narrative and conceptuality above technique. In my utopia, any system that equally favors... NO! adamantly refuses to even recognize a space between conception and labor is the very cure for any number of art related ills.
As I said in my skill piece (and I increasingly find this trend to be a major theme in my thinking about what ails us today)...:
“The whole sequestering of concept from process in art lines up on mind/body split lines, us versus them lines and good versus bad lines—as do, ultimately, all issues that would divide art from craft. Anything that dissociates inspiration from process or soul and material will be reflected in Art versus Craft. Skill is one end in the learning curve of process. It has little to offer as a sole criterion by which to base or assess an art experience and I can see why artists, theorists, critics etc. would begrudge so-called art works that are of this ilk. Skill for its own sake is as bereft as the notion of bad technique justifying or ensuring the primacy of concept. It must be attached to some deeper meaning for an artwork to resonate deeply. What should be judged in an artwork is how credible and inevitable the interface between matter and spirit, be that a rude and crude modality or precise and refined, regardless of whether it is related to utilitarian function or cerebral contemplation.”
If Glass Secessionism is to make good on the following bullet point: “There are a number of facets of the glass world I purposefully seceded from: [one being] The continual tedious discussion of the faulty “art vs craft” binary”; then it is essential that it not perpetuate that binary by conceding the notion that, in an artwork, concept is something that exists outside of technique. For that same reason, I think the movement should stop harping on the differences between vessels and sculpture.
A secondary issue is the idea of “seceding”. Maybe I spent too much time reading about the American Civil War…but…yikes!
I’m for integration and for preserving the union but should that not be possible, I far prefer the following scenario: in my utopia, the forms formerly known as “Painting” and “Sculpture” will soon be banging at the gate of Craft begging for entrance. At that time, we should do our best to graciously admit them to our wonderful, wonderful world with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the art world’s wounds