whitney guenther

A view of the world through glass and an artist’s development and travels is on display at the University Art Gallery.

Until Feb. 18 an exhibittitled “Martin Lipofsky: A Journey in Glass” will be on display. Deconstructed glass shapes, in a multitude of colors, have been put together to showcase Lipofsky’s travels through the world.

Lipofsky, an innovator of studio glass art, broke away from the traditional approach of most glass artists. He worked in one studio and traveled the world, working with international artisans.

“He took a different angle, and his approach has driven him,” said Christine Kuper, the University Art Gallery coordinator.

Lipofsky studied under Harvey Littleton, known as the father of studio glass art, in Wisconsin and then went on to create and head the glass department at UC Berkeley. Glass art was still in its early stages and the desire to learn drove Lipofsky to travel outside the United States to work.

“I had to educate myself as most of us did in the early years of glass,” Lipofsky said. “We looked to Europe because they had a long history with glass.”

Lipofsky began to travel through Europe. He worked in factories learning and creating. As time passed, he began to gain notoriety and broadened his travel to outside of Europe.

At the Cal Poly exhibit, each piece has a card saying where it was created: Stronie Slaskie, Poland, Adelaide, Austria, Hokkaido, Japan, Dalian, China, Novy Bar, Czechoslovakia.

His travels have inspired his art.

“I try to incorporate local flare depending on the country and culture,” Lipofsky said.

Lipofsky often takes inspiration from the local weather of the country he is visiting -whether it is Finland right before winter or Ukraine in the fall. But onlookers see what they will in the art.

“People see various things in my work and I’m OK with that,” Lipofsky said.

The exhibit showcases Lipofskys’s international flare, but also shows his chronological development.

“The theme of the exhibit is two-fold; global travel and a travel through time,” Kuper said. “We have some of his earliest work and some of his most recent.”

Lipofsky’s early pieces display a different look from his recent pieces. One incorporates a plaster hand clutching a cylindrical tube of green glass while another piece is finished in flocking, a technique that gives the glass a fuzzy texture.

“He got the idea to use flocking to create texture from seeing a car at a car show,” Kuper said.

Besides travel, Lipofsky has also deviated from the artistic norm by focusing more on the finishing of work rather then the blowing of the piece itself.

“Most glass blowers are attracted to glass blowing because of the hands-on aspect of it and the instant gratification,” said George Jercich, Cal Poly professor of glass and curator of the exhibit. “Lipofsky has become more into the finishing.”

He collaborates with foreign artists to create a piece, then ships it back to his studio in Berkeley where he meticulously sandblasts, polishes and cuts away at the piece to create the finished product.

“Glass blowing has a lot of seductive qualities, you’re working around the fiery light, maybe even a sense of danger,” Jercich said.

The exhibit will be at the University Art Gallery in the Dexter building until Feb. 18 and is open during regular gallery hours Tuesday through Saturday.

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