Deeply in touch with nature and the elements, Alabama glass artist Cal Breed depicts wind and water in ways both friendly and powerful. Breed has been working in glass since the mid 1990s, when he apprenticed with renowned glass artists such as Cam Langley, Paul Cunningham, Dante Marioni and Lino Tagliapietra. He sought out those experts intentionally, determined to be trained before he started creating on his own. His work has been recognized by the likes of Martha Stewart and Oprah (His Roxy Pitcher was on the "O List" several years ago -- and continues to exhibit a simple grace).
His newest exhibit, "Signs of Lift," which opened recently at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts features his work exploring balance with nature, with a focus on 14 new pieces that deal specifically with the power of water and air.
Breed founded his own studio, Orbix Hot Glass, in 2002. It's close to the home he's always known in northeast Alabama, bordering on the Little River Canyon National Preserve. The location of this studio is extremely important, as it's the surrounding area where Breed receives most of the inspiration for his art.
"While living and working in what many call the middle of nowhere, I find a fertile place to be quiet, to look, to see, to think, to make, to be thankful, to grow, and to fly," he told the Glass Quarterly HotSheet. "Observing nature, with its cycles, textures, colors, and relationships, I find my intuitive sense of decision making which is necessary for art making to be informed and refined moment by moment while immersed in this wild space."
Along with his traditional focus on the nature surrounding his workspace, Breed has placed a special emphasis in these works on the power and beauty of flight.
One piece, "Driftwood," was inspired by the experience of controlling and wanting to "ride" the winds pushing an umbrella, which Breed experienced when he was young. This desire led to Breed's passion for paragliding, which has allowed him to experience flight in entirely new ways.
"The paraglider wing is just a skin on strings," he said, "but once lifted gently into the airflow, it takes a deep breath coming alive with a fullness ready to fly."
This individual power of flight Breed now possesses has taken his work to new heights. It's shaped the way he views his art, and the way that's displayed in his newest work at MMFA.
"When the opportunity to learn to fly comes before me, my cells seem to shake individually as my excitement grows, anticipating what flight would be like mixed with the strong tension of leaving the ground," he said. "This tension is found represented in many of the pieces in the Signs of Lift exhibition."
IF YOU GO:
Through January 12, 2020
“Signs of Lift”
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park
One Museum Drive
Montgomery, AL 36117