Glass Artist Spotlight: Martin Blank
September 28, 2016
Martin Blank is one of the world’s most preeminent contemporary glass artists, still working, sculpting, and creating beautiful works of glass art to this day.
Blank studied glass at the Rhode Island School of Design and spent the formative years of his career working for or alongside many other famous glass artists. He served as a member of Dale Chihuly’s team for 11 years before launching his own hot shop, Martin Blank Glass Studios, in Seattle, Washington, where he continues to reside and work today. Many artists in the Pacific Northwest also use Blank’s hot shop, where raw materials can be transformed into glass at temperatures of 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Blank is known for his idiosyncratic style, which is at times robust and delicate, ethereal and tactile. His works range from small flower-like sculptures to large outdoor installations featured the world over, and he has been commissioned for public and private works on every scale.
One of Blank’s most famous pieces is “Fluent Steps,” a permanent installation at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. More than 750 individual hand-sculpted pieces of glass adorn the pool of the Museum’s main plaza, some reaching heights of 15 feet. It took a team of 41 artists, architects, and engineers to realize the piece during Blank’s 45-day residency at the Museum in 2008.
“My intent with Fluent Steps is to awaken the viewer’s eye to keenly observe, interact with, and respond to the emotive nature of water,” Blank has said of the work. “Water can be placid, sublime, and — in an instant — uncompromisingly raw and powerful. It’s the vehicle for capturing light, motion, fluidity, and transparency. It’s the vehicle for life.”
Martin Blank also has public collections on display at fine art museums in Montreal, Boston, Shanghai, Honolulu, Tampa, Corning, and more.
Nature is an important motif in Blank’s work. His newest series currently in development is called Crystal Skin. It explores the essence of forests and trees, from the minute details of the bark to the overwhelming grandeur of a vast woods.
“One can never hope to compete with nature,” Blank says, “one can only glorify its essence.