Tuesday January 30, 2018 | by Valerie Hughes

OPENING: Justin Ginsberg puts glass inquiries on display in Traver exhibit opening February 1

Justin Ginsberg has always been one to push the limits of glass and his upcoming exhibit, “LIQUID / ROPE / COILING” at Traver Gallery is no exception. It features a multitude of works from the past seven years, including drawings, videos, and glass pieces that were conducted during residencies at The Museum of Glass, S12 Studios, the Pilchuck Glass School, and the Toyama Institute of Glass. The exhibit opens on Thursday, February 1, 2018 and concludes on Saturday, March 31, 2018. The artist will attend the opening night from 5 PM -8 PM. Since 2013, Ginsberg has also been the head of the glass area at the University of Texas in Arlington, as well as an assistant professor of practice there.


Ginsberg experiments with glass and uses the material in a way that most artists have avoided. Instead of gently working with the material, he is unafraid to explore its boundaries and push it to its breaking point. Not only this, but at times Ginsberg forfeits his control and highlights the spontaneity of glass when it is given the freedom. In Winter 2015, Glass Magazine (#141) featured “When the Endpoint is Process” by contributing editor John Drury, in which Ginsberg is quoted that as he worked more with glass, he caught himself “questioning all the aspects of it.” For this artist, inquiry means bold rule-breaking that can yield unique and imaginative work.  

Ginsberg’s method can result in swooping threads of glass, seen in the 2016 Traver Gallery exhibit titled “What is Known is Unknown”. There are echoes of this 2016 work in “LIQUID / ROPE / COILING”, which are most evident in the “Chaos Drawings”. Made from engraved glass, this series consists of eight drawings that depict swirling and curved lines, some concentrated and heavy, others soft and subdued, and each can evoke the cosmos.

In an email exchange, Ginsberg described the process behind the "Chaos Drawings" series, in which each process of creation was timed. He utilized a dremel tool and allowed it to “freely grind, spiral and drive around the surface of the glass.” Then the glass is placed on a wheel so when the dremel moves across the glass, the glass spins, creating a reaction between the two. Each of the drawings shows a different side to the relationship between chaos and pattern.

The other pieces in the exhibit are eight different versions of “Catching Glass Formed by Water.” These works resemble those displayed during GInsberg's 2013 exhibit “Mesophase” by utilizing tanks of water to see the effect water has on ever-changing glass. Gravity plays a large role in these works.

Whereas in “Mesophase” Ginsberg did not require that the glass survive, “LIQUID / ROPE / COILING” works were delicate and cracked glasses that cast shadows reminiscent of spider webs. However, this project began simply as a documentation. Ginsberg wanted to record the reactions of glass to water and vice versa. He wrote that after years of loss, “steam burns and studios filled with water from broken tanks,” he was finally able to save the underwater projects.

There is a video trailer that demonstrates the process. Water here has the potential to either bring the works to life or destroy them. Ginsberg wrote that the creation of the glasses are reminiscent of “molten lava pouring into the ocean –- literally watching the way in which land forms.” It is the creation of life.

This exhibit is yet another example of Ginsberg’s ability to use glass in a way no one has done before.  His handling of glass makes him both unpredictable and immeasurably talented. Ginsberg hopes that his works makes people think-- and those attending the Thursday opening in Seattle, will certainly have plenty to ponder.


Justin Ginsberg
February 1, 2018 - March 31, 2018
Opening Reception: February 1, 2018, 5 PM - 8 PM
Traver Gallery
110 Union Street #200 Seattle
Tel: 206.587.6501
Email: info@travergallery.com     

GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.