This April, Townshend, Vermont-based artist Robert DuGrenier was inducted into the Illinois State University’s College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame nearly forty years after receiving an MFA in Sculpture from the university. DuGrenier trained as a glassblower and goldsmith at Philadelphia College of Art and Hornsey College of Art in London before continuing on to ISU. His career has been defined by works inspired by environments that gradual change due to the forces of nature. DuGrenier visited ISU to receive the award and presented a hot glass workshop and lecture.
In an email exchange with the Hot Sheet, DuGrenier explains that he will continue his personal and custom projects but looks to give more lectures and demos to glass students as well as pursue some guest artist opportunities seeing that both of these experiences are “something I [DuGrenier] have rarely done in the past.” DuGrenier is “thrilled and honored” to be inducted into the ISU Hall of Fame and will surely continue to thrive in a career that suits him very well.
Nature plays an important role in DuGrenier’s works, as seen in “Spur of the Moment,” where he installed glass throughout his Taft Hill Farm’s orchard. Over the years, it fascinated DuGrenier to watch the way the fruit trees continued to grow despite the presence of glass. Similarly, in 2013, DuGrenier created hand-blown glass hermit crab shells that he dubbed “Crabitats” in a process that took fifteen years to perfect.
Robert DuGrenier Associates began as a design studio focused on glass sculptural pieces and three-dimensional design in 1980. DuGrenier worked with architects to create custom glass sculptures and chandeliers, which are installed in hotels, museums, and private residencies around the world. Over the years, the company also became well known for designing perfume bottles and cosmetic packaging, as well as custom awards for corporations such as Nickelodeon, MTV, and more. DuGrenier also played an integral part in the 1986 re-design of the flame of the Statue of Liberty. All the while, DuGrenier works on his personal projects.
DuGrenier’s Glass Art Gallery is in Townshend, Virginia, at 1096 VT Route 30, which is about one mile south of the Townshend village center. The public is more than welcome to watch live glassblowing on Wednesdays and Saturdays, as well as view sculptures and functional hand blown glass featured in both the gallery and shop. The gallery is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 10AM to 5PM.
ISU’s College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame was established in 2010 and consists of an interactive kiosk in the lobby of the Center for the Performing Arts with information about all of the Hall of Fame inductees.