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Beverly & Sam Ross Contemporary Studio Glass Collection

library img gallery ross ex1For thousands of years, artisans have worked glass creatively for various purposes – from the utilitarian to the decorative. Only in the last forty years have a significant number of individual artists valued glass as a fine art medium. Today, technical advances along with new aesthetic and conceptual approaches, have freed glass and made it a vehicle for personal artistic expression in works that may be dramatic or innovative.

Beverly and Sam Ross first developed an interest in glass many years ago. More recently, blown glass, with its variety of styles and techniques, excited their imagination. They decided to focus their collection on contemporary glass. Their collection now spans the last 28 years and represents over 40 American and 17 international artists from Europe, Israel, Japan, and Australia. The Rosses have collected the glass of both internationally recognized masters and emerging talents. While they have been guided in their acquisitions by dealers and, more importantly, by the advice of friends, such as Harvey K. Littleton and Michael Milkovich, the have said that what ultimately determines what they collect is whether they could live with and enjoy the pieces they acquire.

The collection originally contained more than 100 works of glass prior to the Rosses’ generous donation to Christian Brothers of twenty-five pieces in 1995 and fifty-two pieces in 2008. Seven of the glass sculptures in their collection are major pieces of Harvey K. Littleton. In 1962 he organized two workshops that were sponsored by the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio. With the contribution of critical technical expertise from Domenic Labino, the artists present were able to experiment directly with glass. In the same year, Littleton added glassmaking to the curriculum of the Department of the University of Wisconsin. Since that time he has taught many artists, who have in turn taught and influenced others in their use of glass. Over time almost 100 universities, colleges, and art schools in the United States have offered courses in glass.

The Rosses’ collection includes glass by several of Littleton’s former students who have become influential teachers and artists themselves. One of the first was Marvin Lipofsky, who established glass programs in Berkeley and later in Oakland, California. Jack Ink, now in Austria, is a former Littleton student who has moved abroad. Dale Chihuly is perhaps the most influential alumnus. In his native state of Washington he established the Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle. Chihuly, like Littleton, is represented in more than 100 public collections.

library img gallery ross ex2Another rich community for the development of contemporary glass in the United States is western North Carolina. At its core is the Penland School of Crafts which has become an important center for the study of glass. Many glass makers represented in this collection lived or still live in the area. They include: Gary Beecham, William and Katherine Bernstein, Ken Carder, David Goldhagen, Judy Weilbacher, Mary Lynne White, Harvey K. Littleton, John Littleton (his son) and John’s collaborator and wife, Kate Vogel.

Many of the artists in the collection are aware of one another’s work; this is particularly true of the artists who live in North Carolina. Beyond their studies with Harvey Littleton – or with his students – many of the artists have studied or worked directly with each other. Surprisingly, this exchange of ideas and techniques has not produced a common artistic denominator. Instead, one of the most distinctive aspects of the collection is the remarkable individuality of each artist’s aesthetic and conceptual approach.

Gary Beecham was inspired by ancient Roman glassmakers who fused colored glasses. Mary Lynne White, who often collaborates with Beecham, uses her knowledge of color gained from prior experimentation in fiber. William Bernstein extends and builds upon his own paintings or drawings. He uses a torch and colored canes of glass to draw pictorial images on his vessels – as in Adam and Eve. In his Poster Series, Gary Nash engraved an image from a poignant moment in his own life on a glass fragment. Stanislaw Borowski engraves tormented figural or facial images on layers of clear and colored glass, while Ken Carder’s Faces is a technique in which he dusts colored glass powders into a carved graphite mold to create facial images.

Dale Chihuly explores color relationships while Marvin Lipofsky’s pieces are influenced by people and places. With the assistance of artist Fritz Driesbach, Seri Filigrana Retori Fritz was blown at California College of Arts and Crafts. Yaffa Sikorsky and David Goldhagen are inspired by nature and floral decoration, while Jon Nygren and Jack Ink’s work refer to the sea or land. Noel Laue is more abstract in his imagery and alludes to natural, cosmological forces. Utilizing lamp-working, Paul Stankard combines a highly realistic presentation of flowers with an imaginary world beneath the earth.

Beverly and Sam Ross continue to collect and support the contemporary glass movement. Sharing their collection with the public is yet another important way of broadening support for glass artists and for education. The Beverly and Sam Ross Contemporary Glass Collection at Christian Brothers University now contains 80 pieces of glass, 77 of which were donated by Beverly and Sam and one each by Tommi Rush, Richard Ritter (and wife, Jan Williams), and Gary Beecham (and wife, Mary Lynne White). Over many years Beverly and Sam have become valued and treasured members of the Christian Brothers University family. They have often welcomed the Christian Brothers, faculty, and students into their home and hearts. We are privileged to share their love of glass with you.

(Adapted from a private essay by Maurine B. Littleton, 1995)

 

ARTISTS REPRESENTED IN THE COLLECTION


Gary Beecham (American, b. 1955)
Dimiti Michaelides (American, b. 1961)
William Bernstein (American, b. 1945)
William Morris (American, b. 1957)
Katherine Bernstein (American, b. 1945)
Jay Musler (American, b. 1949)
Stanislaw Borowski (Polish, b. 1944)
Gary Nash (Australian, b. 1955)
Bill Boysen (American, n.d.)
Edward Nesteruk (American, b. 1941)
Ken Carder (American, b. 1955)
John Nygren (American, b. 1940)
Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941)
Mark Peiser (American, b. 1938)
Michael David (American, b. 1953)
Mark Petrovic (American, n.d.)
Fritz Driesbach (American, b. 1941)
Kari Russell Pool (American, n.d.)
Erwin Eisher (German, b. 1927)
Richard Ritter (American, b. 1940)
David Goldhagen (American, n.d.)
Tommi Rush (American, b. 1954)
Susan Hammond (American, b. 1960)
Albin Schaedel (American, n.d.)
Sam Herman (British, b. 1936)
Yaffa Sikorsky (American, b. 1951)
David Hirsch (British, n.d.)
Paul J. Stankard (American, b. 1943)
Jack Ink (American, b. 1944)
Henry Summa (American, b. 1949)
Richard Jolley (American, b. 1952)
William Tillian (Irish, n.d.)
Kristian Klepsch (Austrian, b. 1943)
Gianni Toso (Italian, b. 1943)
Noel Laue (American, b. 1956)
Katherine E. Vogel (American, b. 1956)
Wayne Ledford (American, b. 1950)
Dorothe Vonn Dreil (Dutch, b. 1957)
Louis Leloup (Belgian, b. 1929)
Kurt Wallstab (German, b. 1920)
Thomas Lemke (German, b. 1958)
Judy Weilbacher (American, b. 1958)
John Lewis (American, b. 1942)
Mary Lynne White (American, b. 1950)
Harvey K. Littleton (American, b. 1922)
Jan Williams (American, n.d.)
John C. Littleton (American, b. 1957)
Izzy Ben Zvi (Israeli, n.d.