joseph rossano

"It is through our own blindness that we try to force the natural world into conforming to our misguided perception of perfection." | Joseph Rossano


Master craftsman in both glassblowing and woodworking, Joseph Rossano honors the beauty of the natural world in his mixed media assemblages. Drawing upon imagery of animals and landscape elements, Rossano simplifies and abstracts each form, enhancing the elegance and magnificence of his chosen materials. 

"A sense of nostalgia for a lost state of nature permeates his assemblages, with flame-worked glass trees set against photographs of pristine landscape, and found objects such as weathered coins arranged by date to show the passage of years," writes Deloris Ament for Artweek. 

"Placed against a background of old-growth Douglas fir, which represents both nature and civilization, Rossano places objects that are remnants of nature or artifacts of man, such as the wings of a blue jay, a salmon spear, or a saw blade. They are presented for the viewer's inspection, as they might appear in a natural history or anthropology museum. Plucked out of context by Rossano's act of selection, they are transformed from ordinary to remarkable, just as mundane words take on unexpected depth and meaning when placed in a poetic sequence," comments Karen Chambers. 

Joseph Rossano earned a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from Louisiana State, studied at Pilchuck Glass School in rural Washington state, then stayed on as apprentice to artist William Morris. Rossano spent seven years working with Dale Chihuly and became manager of Chihuly's famous hot shop, overseeing such glassblowing projects as Chihuly Over Venice. In 1997 Rossano left to pursue his own artistic career; since that time he has exhibited throughout the United States, including several solo exhibitions with the Bill Lowe Gallery.


artist statement

As an artist, I am interested in studying and abstracting form, texture, and materials, drawing inspiration from both historical and natural sources. My most recent works include pieces made of sculpted ancient Douglas fir or western red cedar, sometimes alone or often in combination with sculpted glass, found objects, or photography created using antique camera equipment. Through the use of these varied media, I seek to express the ephemeral and sometimes fragmented quality of our human experience and our relationship to the natural world. 

Nature is perfect in her imperfections. Probably more than any other life form, we as humans exemplify that imperfection. It is through our own blindness that we try to force the natural world into conforming to our misguided perception of perfection. We say, “I am going to fix what nature can not fix herself.” The reality is that the earth we live on is a dynamic system and humans, as well as all its other inhabitants, are both connected and dependent on nature and each other for their existence. 

Throughout my career, I have focused on the interdependence of the natural world to create haunting images of animals, who like us, rely on our primeval forests for their existence. The Ivory Billed Woodpecker, the Marbled Murrelet and the Spotted Owl, for a little while longer will have mature forests in which to make their homes. And we too, the human race, the ultimate predator, will have these primeval forests from which to make our homes - but for how much longer? 

When the forests are all gone, will we all go with them? 


artist BIO

EDUCATION
1987 Bachelor of Arts, Studio Arts, Louisiana State University, LA
Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington

EXHIBITIONS
2013
Lowe Gallery, Presenting Joseph Rossano, Atlanta, Georgia2013 Lowe Gallery, Presenting Joseph Rossano, Atlanta, Georgia -- COCA Seattle, Whitewashed, Seattle, Washington

2012
The Art Of DNA Barcoding , San Diego Natural History Museum - San Diego, California
The Barcode Of Life, Pacific Science Center – Seattle, Washington

2011
Google Fusion tables and the Art of DNA Barcoding, Google - Mountain View, California
The Barcode of Life, South Australian Museum - Adelaide, Australia

2009
The Barcode of Life: Environment-Evolution- Exuberance, Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia

2008
Museum of Glass – Mirrored Murrelets - Exterior Installation in one hundred foot-long reflecting pool
Interdependence, Millenia Fine Art – Orlando, Florida
Everything White, Sandra Ainsley Gallery - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Exterior Installation, Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA
Sandra Ainsley Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Millenia Fine Art, Orlando, FL
Museum of Glass – Exterior Installation in sixty foot long reflecting pool - Mirrored Murrelets Bill Lowe Gallery – Atlanta, Georgia

2007
Bellevue Arts Museum - Lobby exhibit, Bellevue, Washington Thomas R. Riley Galleries, 
Cleveland, Ohio A Forest in Shadow, Habatat Galleries - Chicago, Illinois 2006 Unspoken Connections, The Lowe Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Palm Beach 3, Riley Galleries, West Palm Beach, FL

2005
Group Show, Habatat Galleries, Chicago, IL
Fragile Nature Show, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oaks, MI
Featured Artist, Sandra Ainsley Gallery, Toronto, CANADA
SOFA Chicago, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Chicago, IL
SOFA New York, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, New York, NY
Palm Beach 3, Riley Galleries, West Palm Beach, FL
Solo Exhibit, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Columbus, OH
Solo Exhibit, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Cleveland, OH

2004
Group Show, Bryan Ohno Gallery, Seattle, WA
32nd Annual International Glass Invitational, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oaks, MI
Solo Exhibit, The Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA
Group Exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, FL
Solo Exhibit, Museum of Northwest Art, La Connor, Washington
Traveling Group Photography Exhibition, Nikon Gallery-Photo Central, Tokyo, JAPAN
Toronto International Art Fair, Sandra Ainsley Gallery, Toronto, CANADA
Solo Exhibit, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Columbus, OH
Solo Exhibit, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Cleveland, OH
SOFA Chicago, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Chicago, IL
SOFA New York, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, New York, NY

2003
Solo Exhibit, Habatat Galleries, Chicago, IL
Solo Exhibit, The Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA
Solo Exhibition, The Lowe Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Selected New Works By Gallery Artists, The Lowe Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Homeland, Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, Port Angeles, Washington
SOFA Chicago, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Chicago, IL
SOFA New York, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, New York, NY
Waterford Crystal Traveling Exhibition, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Columbus, OH
Waterford Crystal Traveling Exhibition, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Cleveland, OH

2002
Team Chihuly Exhibition, Habatat Galleries, Chicago, IL
SOFA, New York, NY
Places in Time, Solo Exhibit, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Columbus, OH
Places in Time, Solo Exhibit, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Cleveland, OH
SOFA Chicago, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Chicago, IL
SOFA New York, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, New York, NY

2001
25th Anniversary, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID
SOFA Chicago, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Chicago, IL
SOFA New York, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, New York, NY
Vanished and Vanishing,Solo Exhibition, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Columbus, OH
Vanished and Vanishing,Solo Exhibition, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Cleveland, OH

2000
SOFA Chicago, Thomas R. Riley Galleries, Chicago, IL
Solo Exhibition, Vetri Gallery, Seattle, WA

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
ARTISTIC COORDINATOR/PROGRAM DIRECTOR, WATERFORD CRYSTAL, IRELAND
Development and coordination of Waterford Crystal's Artists in Residency program. Collaborating artists include: Dan Dailey, Richard Royal, Richard Marquis, Hiroshi Yamano, and Dale Chihuly. 1997 to present.

STUDIO MANAGER, DALE CHIHULY, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Played vital and integral part in the creative endeavors of the Chihuly operation. Head gaffer (glassworker) for Persian, Seaform, and Basket series. Worked with Italian Glass Masters Lino Tagliapietra and Pino Signoretto on Venetian series. Coordinated all glassblowing venues for the Chihuly Over Venice Project. 1990 to 1996.

ASSOCIATE GAFFER, PILCHUCK GLASS SCHOOL, STANWOOD, WASHINGTON
Worked with Nadege Desonatgze in the execution of her work. 2001
Worked with William Morris in the execution of work by Italo Scanga, Judy Phaff, Patrick Reyntiens, Pike Powers. 1991 to 1993.
Worked with Martin Blank in the execution of work by Damian Priour, Andrew Ginzel and Christian Jones, Kurt Wallstab, Clifford Rainey, and James Watkins. 1991.

APPRENTICE TO WILLIAM MORRIS, STANWOOD, WASHINGTON
Assisted William Morris in the execution of four series: Early Artifacts, Standing Stones, Stone Vessels, and River Rocks. Responsible for the organization of the studio and public demonstrations. 1988 to 1989.

APPRENTICE TO WILLIAM DEXTER – BOYERTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA
Participated in fabrication of new glass studio. Held position as vital member of production glass-blowing team. 1987.

SPECIAL PROJECTS
CITY OF EVERETT, EVERETT, WASHINGTON
Public commission of “Together”, a twenty foot tall outdoor installation. 2005.

PERMANENT INSTALLATIONS, MARSHALL FIELD'S, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Designed and executed nine-piece permanent installation for Marshall Field's landmark Chicago store. Currently, using Waterford Crystal, working with Marshall Field's in designing and fabricating a chandelier and companion wall panels for beneath the State Street location's famous Tiffany dome. 1999 to present.

DAN DAILEY (MASS. ART DEPARTMENT HEAD), SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Executed a series of Italo Scanga’s glass pieces, and assisted on the execution of collaborative glass pieces between Richard Royal and Italo Scanga. 1991 to 1996.

DAN DAILEY (MASS. ART DEPARTMENT HEAD), SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Assisted Richard Royal and Benjamin Moore in the execution of a series of blown glass heads for Dan Dailey. 1987, 1990.

THOMAS BUECHNER, CURATOR, CORNING GLASS MUSEUM, NEW YORK
Worked with William Morris in the fabrication of blown glass sculpture representing Buechner's interpretation of Wagner's "Ring."1987, 1989.


CRITICAL REVIEW

Published in GLASS QUARTERLY (2007); Written by James Yood, contributing editor to GLASS QUARTERLY and Professor of Art History at the School of the University of Chicago

Famous as the corporate home of Starbucks and the setting for the sitcom Frasier, Seattle's connections to the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, both real and vestigial, are sometimes forgotten. Yet lurking just beyond the sleek architecture of the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library and Robert Venturi's Seattle Art Museum are dense forests and icy, majestic wilderness. Joseph Rossano lives a bit north of Seattle, in Arlington, near Pilchuck, where the drama of the natural setting is very present and yet the loss of a pristine environment can be clearly measured against what is gained in creature comforts. 

Rossano broods on this situation, and his recent work is an earnest and chastened paean to something that both exists and is steadily slipping away, a wistful and poetic clutching to himself of something he knows is deeply at risk. Rossano celebrates his milieu even as he fears for its survival. The recent exhibition of his new work was more forest than shadow and had the strongest impact when the two were intertwined. 

It’s a woodsy exhibition dominated by Western red cedar, carved, stained, and sometimes painted by Rossano into a rich and comforting warmth. Birds (their shapes rarified and streamlined into august essences, as if Brancusi had met a totem pole carver) appear regularly in his work, sweeping and soaring about, symbols of transcendence temporarily liberated from the terrestrial. Glass is a minor but critical component in his recent work, employed in eight of the 13 pieces here as elements in the tableaux. Examples include little glass vitrines holding feathers, a small crystal bear, snaky rivulets of glass that represent the flow of rivers, and cut-glass representations of feathers and pinecones. Though glass is never the dominant element, it is employed for very specific effects. 

Cold River (2007) exemplifies the kind of integrated, wall-based assemblage strategy Rossano has long employed. On a panel of red cedar he lays a gelatin-silver print of a dried-up desert river system, photographed by the artist from an airplane. The archaic printing system he employs adds to the timeless quality of the photograph, reinforced by the sense of eons of geologic time playing itself out. To the side of this image he places two panels of red cedar into which he has carved a representation of a meandering river. At either end he places blue, sculpted, snake-like glass to represent the ongoing flow of the river. It’s an overview of a fluvial system, a documentation and evocation of a force of nature. 

Rossano is one of those who would always light a candle rather than curse the darkness, or if not as proactive as that, at least indulge in a memory of what once was. There is nothing in his work that is overtly about pollution, climate change, ecological insensitivity, or endangered species. Instead, his work only suggests those concerns, by implication. A small and beautiful clear-glass sculpture of a bear, juxtaposed in End of Ice (2007) to a broken panel of red cedar with two bear paw prints lightly carved into its surface, makes his point clearly enough. Nature is fragile, and the balance once struck between humankind and our environment is askew and at risk. Rossano seems to be an artist and individual who is deeply moved by the prospect of a beautiful bird soaring through the sky, and a contemporary citizen troubled by the knowledge of what kind of terrain the bird must eventually land in.