An interview of Joel Philip Myers conducted 2007 May 1, by Daniel Klein, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in the artist's home, in Marietta, Pennsylvania.
Myers speaks of his childhood in Patterson, New Jersey; making charcoal drawings as a child and taking private courses in oil painting; choosing to pursue a career in advertising design; attending Parsons School of Design in New York City; working as a package designer for Donald Deskey Associates; being influenced by Scandinavian design he saw in New York City to study abroad in Denmark; studying ceramic design at Kunsthaandvaerkerskolen in Copenhagen; meeting and marrying his wife, Birthe, while in Copenhagen; returning to the United States and going back to work for Donald Deskey; attending Alfred University and receiving his B.F.A. and M.F.A. in ceramics; accepting the position director of design for Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia with no previous experience in glass; teaching himself how to blow glass in the factory alongside the workers; the intense heat and extreme noise of a glass factory; learning of Harvey Littleton's glass workshop in 1962 in Toledo, Ohio, but being unable to attend; having limited exposure to the glass movement and developing his glass art without knowledge of the work of Littleton and his students; designing 50 to 60 different vases, bowls, decanters, and decorative objects a year from 1963 - 1970 at Blenko Glass Company; creating sculptural glass forms in his penetration pieces for his masters thesis; learning of what was happening in the studio glass world by attending the World Craft Council in 1964 in New York City; Paul Smith discovering his work and thereby gaining some publicity in Craft Horizons; being invited by Littleton to give a workshop at the University of California, Berkeley in 1968; the initial shock of seeing glass sculpture made with no real technique; his early attraction to cold-work in order to work intimately with the surface of the glass; acquisition of his work by the Toledo Art Museum and the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina; establishing a glass program at Illinois University in Bloomington-Normal; his attempts to recruit international students; taking a semester sabbatical in Baden, Austria; being heavily influenced by the natural world; the series Garden, Perfume Bottle, Contiguous Fragment, Dr. Zharkov, The Dialogues, and others; teaching at Pilchuck School of Glass; studying the First World War and consequently creating Musée des Beaux Arts ; travels to Japan; his teaching philosophies; the prevalence of independent glass studios in the world today; and plans for the future. Myers recalls Ted Randall, William H. Blenko, Sr., William H. Blenko, Jr., Marvin Lipofsky, Fritz Dreisbach, Richard Marquis, John Lewis, Bob Ness, Bertil Vallien, David Huchthausen, John Popelka, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Joel Philip Myers (1934- ) is a glass artist from Milton, West Virginia. Daniel Klein (1938- ) is an art consultant from London, England.
Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 15 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Funding for this interview provided by Nanette L. Laitman project for crafts and decorative arts in America.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.