Wednesday July 5, 2023 | by Andrew Page

CONVERSATION: Leo Tecosky on his recent $100,000 craft award, aging glass collectors, and a new era for equity in glass

Brooklyn-based artist Leo Tecosky, who was featured in the Spring 2022 edition of Glass (#166) after the unveiling of his Rakow Commission work, was recently named as one of five recipients of the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation 2023 Awards in Craft, which is an unrestricted $100,000 award and one of the largest awards for craftspeople and artists in the country. Tecosky was recognized for his mixed-media works that explore the hip-hop canon through blown, cut, enameled, and painted glass forms. Administered by United States Artists, the Maxwell/Hanrahan Awards in Craft seek to support craftspeople’s work in ways that recognize the importance of their varied, hands-on explorations of cultural heritage, emerging technologies, materials and trades, with a special focus on the intersections between them. The 2023 Awardees also include multimedia artist Adebunmi Gbadebo; furniture maker, artist and educator Aspen Golann; multidisciplinary artist Shane R. Hendren; and timber framer Blain Snipstal.

We recently caught up with the increasingly busy glass artist for a few questions:

Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet: We covered the Corning Rakow Commission project, as you know, and we would love to get an update on what you've been working on since. How has your work continued to evolve since completing your 2021 work The 36th Chamber?
Leo Tecosky: It's only been 18 months, but I've had a few short residencies at the Tacoma Museum of Art, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and Kent State University. I’m reading the Symmetries of Islamic Geometrical Patterns (Abas, Salman) and the Can't Stop Won't Stop (Chang) and doing the knowledge on exclamation marks, constructing multi-part sculptural compositions with new color ways.

Glass: Can you speculate on how winning the inaugural Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation Award in Craft might impact your artwork and your practice? Will you be making any changes to your plans for the next year that will be possible thanks to the
funds you will receive?

Tecosky: I don't speculate on the future but the award is absolutely inspiring. Plans that I had for studio and travel can happen sooner and in more depth. The award from Maxwell/Hanrahan will make possible research trips to experience culture and craft traditions and will help to expand my practice with resources that can go to more studio space and more glass shop time with bigger teams for larger projects and installations. Not to mention help to support cost of living for myself and the fam.

Glass: While many people bemoan the changing of the guard, so to speak, as collectors of glass art are aging out of buying work, there are a lot of things going on as new artists working in the material curate exhibitions, engage with new ideas through the medium, and incorporate new technologies in glass. What are some of the recent developments in the glass world that you are paying attention to, and which might be influencing the evolution of your own work?
Tecosky: I never made work for "the guard." I make work for the Gods, so I’m not concerned with the Great Aging. I'm focused on artists with genuine voices and material vision: Kim Thomas, John Moran, Davin Ebanks, to name a few. These people are masters of glass who use technique to extract the deeper meaning in life. But, the most important development in the New Glass
Movement is Crafting The Future. I believe the organization truly fosters equity for glassmakers and craftspeople; they have been a a driving force in actualizing visibility for artists of color like myself as well as cultivating a sense of accountability at institutions.

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 more than 40 years.