Jimmy Chiarella

I have always been fascinated by the properties of light. This interest has influenced my life’s work over the past 50 years. As a photographer, I can’t think of a more important aspect of the work than light. Living in Los Angeles, I was able to specialize in photographing “highly reflective surfaces”. Gold, silver, chrome, glass and plastics were the norm and lighting these was as difficult as anything I can recall.

Glass Art

I was approached by the department head of glass and ceramics at Cal State University to photograph his personal works of iridized glass for the gallery in Taos, New Mexico. We settled on a trade; if I photographed his work, he would tutor me in my glass quest. A decade passed as I worked to produce my glass art. Then one evening while on an assignment in New York City, I passed a gallery that displayed a glass cube, which seemed to radiate light from within. It was as if the light that was received, was amplified. Another decade passed and we moved to Knoxville where I started to explore how I could create objects that played with light in a similar fashion.

Even though glass art has been around for over 5000 years, there is no place to learn this specialized form called “cold glass”. The process starts with tiny pieces of lead crystal, which are then polished and glued together after inserting a piece of dichroic glass. This process is repeated hundreds of times over, resulting in a magnificent glass cube.

Less than .01% of the art glass we see today is created this way, in fact, you can count the number of great artists in this field on one hand. As critical as the materials are, patience and pursuit of perfection are the two characteristics that define this art form.

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