John Riepma

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I found my love of glass long before I found out how to express myself in the medium. As a child, some of my most vivid memories were of watching the flame workers at craft fairs and the furnace glassblowers at Colonial Jamestown. A simple stained glass panel which my grandparents brought with them when they emigrated from the Netherlands and which I inherited, was the inspiration for my introduction to the world of stained glass in the 1980’s.

After several years of working in stained glass, I was invited by two friends from the stained glass business to visit them while they were taking a class in beginning glassblowing. I was immediately hooked and determined to learn the craft myself. After several years of taking classes and renting studio time we decided that we would like to have more access and time, and determined to build our own studio. One of our partners owned an old barn that could be used for studio space and they spent several years and much hard work restoring it. In my professional career I was a machine builder and designer, and this enabled me to research, design and build all of the equipment that I presently use in my studio in a new location, Grand Rapids Glassblowing Studio in Standale, MI. www.grglassblowing.com

Blown glass continues to amaze me every time I work with it. I have been fortunate enough to meet, watch and be inspired by some of the best glassblowers in the world. When molten, the natural tendency of glass to assume graceful forms pleases the eye and mimics many of the shapes we see in the natural world. Its ability to both absorb and transmit light and show depth allows beautiful effects not seen in other mediums. I like the tactile experience of working with a gather of glass that is over 2000 degrees, using heat, gravity and tools to control its form. At times, it feels as though I am “juggling” something that is both beautiful and dangerous. Glass is a very difficult medium to master, and demands concentration, calmness, physical ability, technical skills and above all a good dose of humility – which is the first skill you acquire. One of my favorite quotes, from Dan Fenton, is “glass remembers everything you ever do to it.”

Now that I have retired from my “real” job I am delving deeper into the world of blown glass and its infinite possibilities. I hope that others find beauty and grace in my work, and enjoy living with it and viewing it time and again.

Juried Shows:

Gallery Uptown Winter Art Festival 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

White River Gallery Change of Seasons 2008

Muskegon Museum of Art West Michigan Regional 2008 Hills Ford Purchase Award

Muskegon Museum of Art Regional Exhibition 2009

Muskegon Museum of Art Regional Exhibition 2010: Susan Meston Purchase Award

Muskegon Museum of Art Regional Exhibition 2012

Lowell Area Arts Council West Michigan Regional Art Competition 2012 and 2013

White River Gallery Change of Seasons 2008, 2009

Holland Area Arts Council Juried Art Show 2009

Art On the Riverfront, Grand Haven Area Arts Council: 2009, 2010 Second Place, 2011, 2012 Gallery Uptown Award, 2013, 2014, 2015

Festival of the Arts Regional Arts Competition, Grand Rapids: 2015, 2016, 2017

South Haven Center for the Arts: “Breaking Possibilities: Constructing the Impossible” glass arts show, December 2013-January 2014

Galleries:

Gallery Uptown, Grand Haven MI

Stafford’s Gallery, Petoskey MI

Synchronicity, Glen Arbor, MI

Mullaley’s 128, Elk Rapids, MI

Cascade Gallery, Grand Rapids, MI

Elizabeth Oliver Center for the Arts, Frankfort, MI