Biography – Josh Simpson

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Josh Simpson


Along with the natural world, my motivation comes directly from the material itself. Glass is an alchemic blend of sand and metallic oxides combined with extraordinary, blinding heat. The result is a material that flows and drips like honey. When it’s hot, glass is alive. It moves gracefully and inexorably in response to gravity and centrifugal force. It poss

esses an inner light and

transcendent radiant heat that makes it simultaneously one of the most frustrating – and one of the most rewarding – materials to work with. I attempt to coax it; all it wants to do is drip on the floor. Most of my work reflects a compromise between me and the glass; the finished piece is the moment in time when we agree.
When I haven’t made a particular kind of object for a while, it takes a day or two to get back into the rhythm. After only a few days, boredom sets in; at that point I can lose interest and make terrible work or I can begin to push the material and start to have fun. Exploring often leads to something new and interesting – sometimes it just adds more broken glass

to the local landfill. I always seem to have more ideas than I will ever have time to make.

Artistic Vision

People often want to know the meaning behind my work, particularly the Planets; some think I have a profound understanding of life. I think I have an appreciation for what’s around me – the sky at night, the changing seasons, the views I get looking out of my studio down the valley. I also have an appreciation for the material itself.

More than appreciative, I guess I’m curious – what do the hills around my home look like from a small airplane? What is this creature sticking its head out of this coral reef – will it bite, is it poisonous? What happens when I add metallic silver to molten glass?

I want my work to inspire such appreciation and curiosity. Viewers invent their own meaning as they gaze into the depths of a Portal or follow the bulging lines of a Copper Basket. I create objects that explore my questions. I hope to inspire viewers to ask their own.


Evolution is an apt word to describe the trajectory of my work – it is an organic process that happens over time and is full of trial and error. Thirty years into my career as a glass artist, I can look back and see the branching in the evolutionary family trees of my work. In the moment, when I am in my studio, I don’t think about where I’ve come from, I merely ask the next question of myself and the glass and move toward its answer.

Thirty years ago, I started out focusing on making goblets because to me they represented the ultimate challenge for a glass artist. I spent seventeen years seeking the perfect goblet. But that wasn’t all I did during that time. With the goblets and then planets, vases, and iridescent glass, as with all my work, I have always learned by experimenting and doing. When I came up against a technical obstacle I couldn’t overcome, I read from my growing personal library of books on glass and often consulted with the folks at the Corning Museum of Glass or the Rakow Library. It’s probably a character flaw, but I don’t give up easily. I usually work at something until I’m satisfied that I’ve got it right.