Artist of the month at Thibault Gallery on Bay Street: Greg Rawls under glass

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Glass is an eternal medium that has been worked, in one form or another, for several thousand years. Fused glass art was found in ancient Egyptian excavations and was a revered art form. Glass has always fascinated Greg. His interest in glass started about 30 years ago when he learned how to make stained glass windows. It was a work transfer to Frederick, Maryland in 1998 that led Greg to a stained glass supply shop to buy glass to make windows for the new house. The shop offered a class in glass fusing. Greg said “At last! Something I can use my glass scraps for!” He later learned that you had to use special fusing glass, but a new world opened up.

Greg Rawls
Greg Rawls

Fused, or kiln-formed glass is a very difficult art medium due to issues of glass compatibility and the inherent fragility of glass. Greg immediately started making fused glass bowls and panels. A year later another work transfer took him to Charleston and Greg set up a studio making glass part-time. Soon he was showing in galleries in the Charleston area. In 2004, he won second place in the Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition. The next year he won first place. In 2006, a glass panel he made was selected for the Piccolo Spoleto Petite Pavilion poster. In 2008, a piece of his glass titled “Linear Regression” was selected to be shown at the South Carolina Museum 20th Anniversary Juried Art Exhibition.

Greg retired in 2012 and moved to Beaufort for what he calls his “re-boot,” which was moving from a long career in industrial health and safety to being a full time glass artist. Since then, he has shown twice at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan – placing in the Top 100 both times. He’s had solo shows at ARTworks in Beaufort and the Edward Dare Gallery on Broad Street in Charleston.

The achievement he is most proud of is having a glass panel he made selected for the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run poster. It was a silhouette of the bridge against a glorious Lowcountry sunrise – all done in glass. “This was the first time they have ever selected anything other than a painting or drawing for the poster. The Bridge Run is in the top ten 10K races in the world with over 36,000 runners. That’s a lot of tee shirts and posters!”

Greg says “I am fascinated by the way light plays off glass, either transmitted or reflected, giving the work new meaning with changing light and viewing angle. I want my work to be simple and expressive, yet convey a sense of color and light in harmony. I have always been inspired by the colors of the Lowcountry. The marsh, ocean and incredible sunsets form my palette.” Greg’s glass can be seen at the Thibault Gallery, 815 Bay Street, Beaufort, where he is the featured artist of the month for March.