Recognized as a major contributor to the American studio glass movement, Mary Van Cline occupies a unique place in the history of glass. She pioneered the invention of techniques that combine glass and photography. After receiving a Master’s degree in Design and Architecture from North Texas University, Van Cline went on to earn a MFA in Glass Sculpture and Design from Massachusetts College of Art. In the late 1970s she began working with Kodak to develop a positive photo emulsion that could be coated on glass and incorporated into her sculptures. Her working process often combines hot and cold glass techniques, cast elements, and photosensitized glass into one piece. More recently, the artist’s collaboration with industry has enabled her to work on an even larger scale, and to explore pate de verre and mold-making techniques in an architectural context rarely seen with these materials.
Van Cline’s use of glass evokes many things associated with the medium. Her works have strong references to the traditional vessel form, and underscore the preciousness, solidity and fragility inherent in glass. Above all, she sees the material as a metaphorical vehicle for the transmission of timeless visions. “I’ve always been drawn to images and the narratives they suggest. It is a justification for my use of glass,” she says. “I present theater in my work. There is usually a story, a scene, a stage and lighting. I build theater sets for my photos. I want viewers to look at the photographs and not get caught up in the technique or material.”
Van Cline’s work is in many museum collections around the world including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery; the Corning Museum of Glass; Kanazawa Museum in Japan; Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Japan; and the Detroit Institute for the Arts.
The Healing Winds of Time can be viewed as a part of the American Studio Glass exhibition in the new Sarah Baker gallery.