Tony Glander Talks About the Future of Contemporary Art

Photo | Submitted Tony Glander created his orange green vase with a glass-folding technique.

Photo | Submitted
Tony Glander created his orange green vase with a glass-folding technique.

I recently chatted with Tony Glander, resident artist at the Arts Barn, about the future of contemporary art as a preview to his lecture, “Art Night Out: Out of the Box—Contemporary Art Lecture,” planned for May 18. Not surprisingly, technological advances in the art field feature prominently.

“The biggest driver in art now is technology … the next level,” Tony said. The next generation of artists will continue to refine and expand on the techniques and processes taught by their teachers, he noted.

During a workshop with one of his mentors in California, Tony saw that very little technology was used until the glass piece got to the kiln. The ability to pass on this knowledge, manipulating the “old” technology with the “new” resources, is the foundation.

Tony sees “a faster progression, there is more and more art in front of you. There is still the vision of people who are not afraid to try and the combinations of techniques, old and new, but it is very fast moving. Technology is a tool. Students now are fearless. They can take an electrical path in their head and make it —that’s magic!”

Other art is pushing him as he takes in new developments. At a recent workshop in Tennessee, he taught in a gallery where an artist was manipulating light and shadow to make art as opposed to something traditional such as drawing or painting. Manipulating the “technology” was the art. Tony sees this transition as being more communicative where art can convey a sense of humor for instance and more fully involve the viewer in the experience.

Kilns have not escaped the technological evolution. Years ago, Tony noted, artists would put glass in the kiln and the result was trial and error. Now kilns have windows so artists can view progress, and electronic controls used to calculate exactly what one wants the kiln to do, for how long and at what temperature. This has facilitated the production of exact copies and repetitive pieces and taken the guesswork out of it, but also allowed the medium to evolve and grow.

Tony emphasized that he works with glass like a partner. He described the three types: cold glass, which is stained glass, the fitting together of art glass like a puzzle and soldering it; warm glass, fusing compatible glass (there are two numbered types); and hot glass or glass blowing, the use of a furnace or pipes to blow, turn or use a torch on glasswork. There exists an intertwining amongst the three methods and new minds are causing them to interchange and collaborate.

It is in this intertwining that Tony has found his focus. The glass-folding technique used in pieces currently on exhibit at the Arts Barn fueled his inspiration. He discovered the folding technique by working with temperature and being able to see the glass squares as they fuse. Another process he has been working on is melding thin wafers of glass together into glass bars with a pattern and manipulating them flat for texture. These techniques could only be done with the aid of technology.

His current project is creating components that will become a peacock glass bowl. Inspired by an artist he saw in Las Vegas, he has begun meticulously drawing and experimenting in the creation of realistic glass feathers that will ultimately adorn the bowl and bring the peacock to life.

Tony feels fortunate to work in the artistic environment of the Arts Barn with others who are dedicated to art. In his position as resident artist, he has had the opportunity to provide outreach to the community through classes and to be immersed in an atmosphere of creativity. This allows him to be close to champion the arts and see the processes other artists encounter as they apply for grants and installations, which helps him keep a pulse on future challenges.

For more information on the Art Night Out lecture, visit