Ralph Mossman and Mary Mullaney are known by their peers and fellow glass artists as a skilled and agile team in the field of glassblowing. As a husband/wife duo collaborating as equal partners in the production of each piece, they are unique in the way they move and work together to create their contemporary glass.
Partnering together since 1985 provides them with the coordination and grace required to create beautiful and technically complex work. Their intricate and evocative use of pattern and imagery, instills a sense of wonder in the viewer.
Mary and Ralph create very limited quantities of an ever-changing variety of glass objects. Whether functional or highly decorative, each piece reflects their dedication to continuing the tradition of fine handblown glass, while exploring their own unique artistic visions.
Ralph Mossman was fascinated with glass blowing from the moment he watched unruly molten glass being shaped into a work of art. Mossman was a chemical engineering student from 1974-77 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts when glass changed his path. He researched how to get involved with the medium and in 1978 enrolled in a glassblowing course taught by Fritz Dreisbach and Dale Chihuly at the Haystack Craft School in Deer Isle, Maine. In 1980 he studied glass at Penland Craft School in North Carolina. He received a B.A. in glassblowing from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1981. After studying with numerous well-known and lesser-known glass artists, Mossman settled out west in the beautiful and isolated mountain town of Driggs, Idaho where he and his wife, glass artist Mary Mullaney, built their own studio in order to pursue their artistic visions.
His work is featured in numerous collections and galleries across the country, and has been featured twice in the "New Glass Review."
The digital vase series is inspired by my interest in digital imaging as well as a fascination with all the little dots in newspaper photos. I am also challenged by the abstract expressionist quest to create the illusion of depth in a two-dimensional surface, coupled with the reality of the thickness in the wall of a vessel. The analytical aspects of producing these pieces are an interesting counterpoint to the more intuitive process of glass blowing
Solitary pondering, researching, sketching and hesitation are put aside as a life-sized outline of a vessel is chalked onto the cement floor in the glass studio. Assistants are called over for discussion. The dance of the glassblowers will soon scuff away the image as the artwork comes to life.
As designer and lead craftsperson I direct a skillful team to blow sizeable glass vessels. After they cool, I permanently carve imagery into them, using a sandblaster and diamond engraving tools. The challenging hot glass techniques we use provide me with several thin, transparent color layers which, when carved into, result in the myriad hues and shades of color which characterize my surface compositions. The finished piece is a highly personal, voluminous, sculptural narrative. The story travels the circumference, exploring the undulating curves in the form, and can be experienced from another more complex perspective found by gazing through the front and back walls simultaneously.
The imagery is a sensual and textural interpretation of a moment in time. Suggested in some of my recent works is the view one would have if sitting in the midst of a chaotic bramble of natural botanicals. I appreciate the interrupted light and intricate negative space formed by such groupings as well as the spatial and postural relationships amongst the plants, which I view as almost social. Though classically rendered, there is an animated quality to my carvings. This reflects the fantasy-like experience I often tap into when studying other life forms. The feeling is at times romantic, surrealistic, or conversational, a revelation I attempt to convey to others with my work.
The acquisition of technical and artistic skills for me pays off with the occasional gift of high-quality improvisation. On a spiritual, psychological level, the ability to recognise, receive and respond involves faith and knowing when to let go of attachment to one's own plans and let the universe have its say.
Glass embodies many seductive qualities; I often make use of its delicate transparency and luminosity as well as its ability to hold fine detail. Carved glass is as easily transformed into the crisp, geometric divisions of a dried seed pod as into the tissuey, ethereal and translucent petals of that same plant in full bloom.
I enjoy the lifestyle of an independent artist carrying on the tradition of high-quality craftsmanship, making things with my hands from scratch. I believe that hand made items possess a great deal of humanity and I value this. I am satisfied when I am able to access previously unknown parts of myself, engage others, and make use of some of the mysterious qualities that glass has to offer.