By Tien Do
Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to express myself in an artistic way. Then when it came to my adolescent years, I was exposed to the possibilities of acting and 3-D animation.
With this exposure, I thought for sure that these two subjects were the careers that I wanted to pursue. This all changed during my third year of study Cal State Fullerton. During that time, I was waitlisted for an introductory class on a new 3-D modeling program called Maya. I was waitlisted as No. 1, but, unfortunately, I was unable to enroll in the class. Panicking, I entered an open class, not thinking that it would drastically affect my medium or emphasis in art. The course was an introduction to glassblowing.
My first steps into that class led me to a new perspective in art making. I never left. For the past three years, not only have I been enrolled in the animation program, but I’ve been active in the glass program, as well.
The journey and experience toward the medium of glass was so surreal. It felt like I was sculpting and shaping a medium that was stubborn, erratic and filled with life. Compared to the practice I had with animation, it was the polar opposite.
With animation, I was creating a static object into something that resembles a being of life. Whereas with glass, I was creating something alive into something static. Even though these practices seem different, they hold similar qualities in terms of shaping and sculpting an object.
Like everything that includes heavy devotion, it took time to understand the medium I was using. With a determination to be more involved, I invested myself heavily into this medium of glass. I believe that during the first two semesters, I devoted 40-60 hours a week to working with glass, in order to understand the material and to better use it in my creative projects.
I would practice heavily to understand the molten properties of glass, as well as participate in helping others, including the faculty member who taught the course, Hiromi Takizawa, assistant professor of art.
That devotion didn’t go unnoticed. Surprisingly, Hiromi nominated me and helped me acquire scholarships to represent Cal State Fullerton at a prestigious glass school called Pilchuck. This facility is located in Stanwood, Wash., where artists have the opportunity to work with a master artist to develop their skills and creative thinking. This opportunity to go to Pilchuck has solidified my interest in glass into being an artist of glass. I have gone there for the past two summers — the first as a student and the second as a teacher’s assistant. Now, I will be returning for my third year, as a student for Master Artist Martin Janecky.
At the Pilchuck Glass School, you are exposed not only to the artist/session you applied for, but also to the community that expands internationally and around the world. Everyone I have met had a different way or a new way of how to create objects in glass. But that wasn’t the importance of Pilchuck; instead, it was creating a bigger family within our glass world. Since the community is quite small, I believe it is necessary and a treasure to meet various artists that come along our journey.
With this philosophy in mind, I was able to create bonds with such notable artists as Ethan Stern, Kelly O’Dell, Raven Skyriver and Morgan Peterson, among others. Meeting these artists gave me hope and inspiration. The time spent at Pilchuck can be pretty intense, since it is a workshop that lasts two to three weeks with at least 9-12-hour days, back to back. Its facility has all the equipment for the students and artists to use, in order to accomplish our creative vision. It is an experience unlike any other, and it is a great way for an artist to get the most out of the time provided for each session.
I am thankful for this alternative route or segue from the 3-D animation world. Without that experience, I wouldn’t have the knowledge to become a better craftsman and artist. I owe thanks to my mentor Hiromi Takizawa for showing me another form of art making.
Art major Tien Do will be returning to the Pilchuck Glass School in July. In the fall, he will begin his senior year of study at Cal State Fullerton and has his sights set on graduate school. His long-term goal is to open a studio for glass or animation. In the future, Do also hopes to be able extend to students the same mentoring opportunities he has been afforded.
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