Joshua Davids says when he looked into the glass that seemed to be alive in the fire, he fell in love. Ekin Deniz Aytac says she was mesmerized by watching glass blowing and was also drawn into the community of glass artists.
Aytac says you have to be a tight team to create a work of glass art. She and Davids are resident artists at Glass Art Kalamazoo, a community-based nonprofit organization founded in 2002.
“I grew up camping, got the fire bug, and I saw the dance of fire in creating glass art,” Davids says. “I couldn’t stay away. It’s been a rabbit hole and I’m still diving deep.”
Davids has extensive experience in glass, design, management, marketing, studio maintenance, and equipment engineering that's been key to the success of various projects. A native of Denver, Colorado, Davids studied at Regis University and Texas A&M University for degrees in print and marketing, as well as glass and sculpture. He has worked for several prominent glass artists, designed and built gallery and studio spaces, and honed project management skills in the corporate world.
Aytac attended glass and sculpture programs at both Marmara University in Istanbul and Texas A&M. She worked at the Glass Furnace in Istanbul, Turkey, a premiere intensive workshop glass school, and completed a one-year program at the historic Novy Bor glass school in the Czech Republic.
“Our responsibilities at Glass Art Kalamazoo are varied,” Davids says. “We are involved in the management of the studio, but the artist-in-residence portion is our continued work with our personal artwork. Every year we do a retrospective, and then there are mentorships and commissions, so we are practicing artists as well.”
Projects in which Davids and Aytac have taken part include the Body Donor Memorial Tree installed at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, journey beads for children undergoing medical treatment, and monthly Art Hops in Kalamazoo.
Glass Art Kalamazoo was founded by a local group of area artists. Its mission is to enrich the community by providing exceptional experiences in glass art. It offers classes in glass blowing, lamp working, kiln fusing and bead-making. Glass Art Kalamazoo works with schools, nonprofit groups, and businesses to educate the community in the glass arts. For more information, call 269-552-9802.
Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.