I’m an artist. Period.

Is it just me being Ms. OversensitiveWordist, or is there something a tad demeaning in the term “glass artist?” I mean, when we talk about a sculptor, do we say he is a “bronze artist?” When we talk about a painter, is he an “oil artist?”

Nope. They’re artists. Sculptors. Painters. Period. Santiago Sierra, for example, creates works using excrement. If you call him a crappy artist you are NOT referring to his choice of media.

Yet when we talk about people who work with cloth, they’re “fiber artists.” People who work with glass are “glass artists.” It’s as if working in certain media gives you a license to practice art but only in limited fashion, kinda like a learner’s permit or the little sticker on your driver’s license that says “must wear corrective lenses at all times.”

Or in other words, it’s as if you’re not really an artist.

I bring this up after a discussion with a well-known bronze artist, i.e., sculptor, who said he really really liked my work (blush) but felt strongly that someone should clue me in: If I didn’t work in a “fine arts” medium such as bronze or stone, gallery owners, critics, and anyone else who mattered in the art world would never take me seriously. I’d forever be labeled “just a glass artist.” A crafter.

Clunk. IOW, a low-down no-account decorative arts idiot who might as well be doing paint-by-numbers kits.

You know, this “how come you work in glass” stuff is getting repetitious enough to be disturbing. So (getting up on my soapbox) here’s my rebuttal: My art is not limited by my medium. I am the same artist whether I work in bronze, glass or yard clippings. I choose the medium that best expresses my work and I will not be constrained to “appropriate” materials if something else works better. Dammit.

For what I’m doing right now, no other medium expresses my voice as well as glass. Glass (well, pate de verre) offers avenues of communication I can’t get in any other material. More specifically, it lets me control light and color to an amazing degree, in three dimensions.

If using glass means that nobody but me (and my mother) take my stuff seriously, fine. Well, not fine, but I’ll live with it. When I’ve been dead for 200 years and marine archaeologists have recovered my art from the ocean floor (Portland having dropped into the sea), it’ll probably hang in the Louvre.

So there.