Paul Counts

Artist statement:

“I have affection for art. I create with glass.

Affection for art is a form of hope. Art wants life to be better than it is, not more virtuous: cleaner, dressier, more certain of its lines. The artist’s affection if for the life he alone sees, the life he wishes for and breathes into every corner of the world’s mess. The artist and his work face each other like smitten strangers. No one can get between them. What they have is common in everything in the world that is seen, felt, smelled, heard, imagined and thought.”

My affection for art blossomed into a love affair when I was introduced to the art of glassblowing in 1978. I was young, full of energy and still searching for my educational direction in college. One day I watched a glassblower work and this experience changed my world life.

The visual experience compares to viewing a ballet or musical performance. I become mesmerized as I watched the glassblower. The studio was ALIVE WITH ENERGY: the roar of the furnaces and gloryhole mingled with the music that filled the open atmosphere of the studio; fire raged from the furnaces casting bright flames creating dancing shadows on the walls. In the center of the studio stood the gloryhole, the reheating apparatus used to keep the glass in a working state of molten, honey-like consistency. The glass was gathered on the pipe and with masterful technique the artist brought it to life in the shape of a vase. He used centrifugal force and kept it round by spinning the pipe rapidly. Soon the form took shape. He went from one step to the next, reheating the form and constantly refining the shape. After it was completed the piece was placed into the oven to cool slowly until the next day. It was intense and intriguing to observe this experience.

Artists know where they wish to be even if they have no sure idea how to get there. Art is understanding, art is the process of understanding. There is a desire of the artist to understand the world by way of art, the desire of the world to understand itself by means other than science, logic and news. In some ways, all attempts at understanding the world are all the same, each reducing and reorganizing experience to something manageable. But with art the operation is more mysterious.”