Laura Donefer’s “Rainbow Amulet
Laura Donefer’s “Rainbow Amulet" (Courtesy of Habatat Galleries)

The essence of studio glass goes digital in Glass 48: Habatat Direct.

Fascination with works of art formed from glass has brought artists and collectors from around the world to Habatat Galleries in Royal Oak.

For 47 years, going back to Habatat’s presence in Southfield, an annual event has showcased new work. The Annual International Glass Invitational, held each spring, also has offered programs for attending artists and collectors.

COVID-19 was not about to stop Habatat owner Aaron Schey from putting on the largest and oldest international glass art show, which was founded 49 years ago by his father, Ferdinand Hampson. The pandemic would just move his efforts in a digital direction.

Some 100 artists will be showing and discussing their works and studios through video presentations enabled by Glass 48: Habatat Direct (glass48.com). Schey also arranged for an introductory documentary video by Harvey Littleton, the father of the modern glass movement.

The essence of studio glass goes digital in Glass 48: Habatat Direct.
Artist Alex Bernstein at work in his studio. His art is also featured in the digital show. Courtesy of Habatat Galleries
The essence of studio glass goes digital in Glass 48: Habatat Direct.
Laura Donefer’s “Little Joy Amulet” Courtesy of Habatat Galleries

“When I was talking to the artists who were expressing their fears about the future of their work, it inspired me to create this new type of online gallery experience and make it as exciting as possible,” said Schey.

“By creating this virtual experience, we are able to bring the latest in the world of studio glass, not only to collectors and museum creators, but also to a whole new audience — an even broader audience. Light and color are the essence of glass art, and we think Glass 48: Habatat Direct offers light and inspiration in this moment of darkness.”

Three artists of Jewish heritage, each participating in the annual glass invitational for more than 20 years, readily discussed their new projects and the impact of the digital presentations.

Irene Frolic, based in Toronto, is presenting a work entitled “She Loves Us Still: Water.” Frolic wanted to express that “even though we are nature’s errant children, wasting our bounty, [nature] loves us still and is laboring hard to protect us.”

The essence of studio glass goes digital in Glass 48: Habatat Direct.
Steve Linn’s “Four Sketches on Dances by Alvin Ailey.” Courtesy of Habatat Galleries
The essence of studio glass goes digital in Glass 48: Habatat Direct.
Irene Frolic’s “She Loves Us Still: Water.” Courtesy of Habatat Galleries

This piece is an example of how Frolic can explore the human condition, hopes and fears. It is made through kiln casting, which has her starting with clay, building a mold around the clay, emptying the clay and filling the mold with recycled plate glass before heating, melting and cooling.

“[This work] describes our place in the human experience and our longing to experience and be part of existence,” explained Frolic, who wasn’t able to provide a video of her studio, which she describes as “the humblest.”

Frolic, who misses the essence of celebration experienced in attending the annual event, was born in Poland in 1941 and “considers it a miracle that she is here almost 80 years later.” That has been at the core of her questioning and making.

Steve Linn, who is based in France, focuses on people who have brought great art and science into the world. This year, he has selected two men of history to spotlight — American choreographer Alvin Ailey and German visual and performance artist Joseph Beuys.

“I have always felt dance is a kinetic sculptural medium, and the Ailey company is the epitome of that idea,” Linn said. “Beuys had a colossal influence on the post-World War II generation of artists.”

The essence of studio glass goes digital in Glass 48: Habatat Direct.
Courtesy of Habatat Galleries
The essence of studio glass goes digital in Glass 48: Habatat Direct.
Courtesy of Habatat Galleries

Viewers will see Linn’s studio in Claret, a wine country village of 1,500 people, which he describes as interesting and pretty.

Linn’s Jewish heritage can be traced through his late father, a woodworking teacher who interested his son in three-dimensional processes. Over the years, Linn’s projects have included attention to Jewish subjects, such as Albert Einstein and sculptor George Segal, but not because of their religion.

The use of materials beyond glass enhance Linn’s very large structures.

“I wanted to participate with Habatat because I believe in the gallery,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful partner.”

Laura Donefer, based in rural Ontario, also misses being with colleagues and collectors, but she is glad to be part of this digital initiative. Viewers will see examplesof her blown and flame-worked efforts.

Donefer has developed new pieces to be part of her Amulet Baskets series. Her artistry is planned to bring love, joy and color into people’s homes.

“There is one color palette that means a lot to me,” said Donefer, an award-winning artist who has taught and given lectures internationally and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Association of Canada. “I wanted to honor yellow because … the Jewish people had to wear the yellow stars to single them out as Jews [during the Holocaust].”
With the digital event, collectors will see Donefer’s home studio for the first time, and that brings a lighter touch to her career.

“It is very messy, and I love it that way,” she explained. “Sometimes, you can’t see the floor.”

To experience the artists and works associated with Habatat, go to glass48.com through August.

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