Two Upstate SC Artists Collaborate to Showcase Glass Art Through Macro Photography
Photographer Thomas Koenig and fused-glass artist Judy Martin will exhibit their collaborative work — Big In Glass — at Artists Collective | Spartanburg, Tuesday, Oct. 6, through Saturday, Oct. 31.
The free and public exhibit will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. All social distancing protocols will be practiced to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.
Each artist is contributing 10-12 pieces of work. Martin will present a collection of fused glass creations especially made for this exhibit; Koenig will use macro photography to present highly enlarged details of Martin’s work, giving the viewer a different perspective.
“This is truly exciting,” Collective President Beth Regula said. “Collaboration between artists is something that we wholeheartedly encourage and support. Both of these members are respected in their individual field. Together, they are presenting a new kind of art exhibit. You’ll see Judy’s beautiful fused glass creations, and you’ll see how Thomas has captured details of her creations through his creative eye, in large size prints. I commend them for their efforts, their spirit of collaboration, and for producing something new in Spartanburg’s art world.”
“Judy and I spent hours together going through and testing materials and shapes that make an interesting object through shape, color, and texture,” Koenig said. “In this aspect, this show is a step further in the process between glass art creation and the detail that is portrayed in the picture. The original attraction was the idea of presenting something new, way bigger in size. We both learned from the experience and widened our horizon. We experimented. We had happy accidents and we took a second look, and often found beauty in it.”
Martin hopes patrons will see this exhibit as “a different way of looking at things, not just glass. And, it is glass like it hasn’t been seen before in photography.” Koenig hopes “it will challenge the visitor to look at things a different way and to experience a material, its color and texture differently. You could say it’s when details in glass enter another medium.”
It took the artists a year to experiment and produce the works for this exhibit, and all of them will be for sale. The 24 x 36-inch photographs will sell for $225 each. Martin’s work will range in price from $55 to $1,200.
For both artists, creating this exhibit has been a learning experience and changed how they work. Koenig: “It is a departure for both of us, because we went through the experience of collaborating, including abandoning traditional techniques and accepting other viewpoints as new standards.” Martin: “My glass is going from my well-known method and style to trying new ways of making art from glass.”
Martin’s profession has been in sales and management, but about 14 years ago while unemployed, she scratched a creative itch and took a local class in stained glass. “I worked in that medium for a couple of years and then found full-time employment again,” she said. “And once more my creative urges had to take a back seat for a while. When I found myself unemployed once again, glass art was still calling me. I don’t remember how I even found glass fusing but boy oh boy, did it hook me! I started eating, sleeping, breathing glass fusing, and I felt as if I’d finally found my niche!”
Because she could not find any local educational opportunities in fused glass, Martin educated herself through reading, online investigation, “and probably most importantly good ol’ trial and error, learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t.” Since then, her work has been juired into the prestigious ArtFields art show in Lake City, SC, as well both of the Collective’s juried shows in 2019 and 2020. Her commissioned pieces have included Christian crosses, wedding centerpieces, sports pieces, and outside installations. She has taught fused glass at Tryon Arts and Crafts School, Spartanburg Art Museum, and her studio in Lyman, SC. Her work can be found online at ArtisticGlassFusions.com.
Koenig’s career in communications and design spans more than 30 years and two continents: North America and Europe. Born in Greensboro, NC, Koenig’s youth was spent in Germany, where he earned a degree in Prepress Production from a traditional apprenticeship program and a diploma in Communication Design and Photography from the University of Applied Science in Wiesbaden. He has done research in semiotics and practical semiotic applications at the University of South Carolina as part of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s graduate program.
He has lived in Spartanburg since 1997 and been the creative lead at AGE K Media LLC, a local communications agency. In 2009 Koenig had a solo art show at Spartanburg Art Museum. He has been in several group shows in both the USA and Germany. In 2019, Koenig was awarded an art grant by Chapman Cultural Center for a Photography project. He and his camera traveled extensively in the US, England and Germany.
Martin has been a member of the Collective for three years, and Koenig has been a member for five years. “Diversity is key,” Koenig said. “ACS has given me opportunities to exhibit my work with close to no limitations or restrictions, and the support from the Artists at ACS as a community has been priceless.” Martin said, “Interacting with the other members has been great for me. Talking with others, I can learn and get ideas for my glass art through what they have done.”
Artists Collective | Spartanburg is a membership-based art venue that provides affordable studio space to local artists who are juried into the organization. Most of the artists are visual artists, however, some are performing artists. It has about 30 member studios, more than 50 members, three galleries, two stages, a printery, and a pottery studio. Normally, it hosts three art exhibitions each month, showcasing members’ and guest artists’ work. Housed in what was once a Baptist church, it is one of Spartanburg’s leading art agencies. For more information, please visit its website at ArtistsCollectiveSpartanburg.org.