How to Make It
For his latest exhibition at The Future Perfect, glass artist John Hogan reflects on the role that light plays both in his work and in human life
The Future Perfect’s San Francisco gallery just opened Ultraviolet, a solo exhibition of new work from Seattle-based glass artist John Hogan. While light has always been a key element in the allure of Hogan’s functional and sculptural glass designs—even beyond that of other glass artists—this new collection elevates light play to an extraordinary level. The resulting purity of form and color feels at once scientific and magical.
What follows are Hogan’s own words on the role of light in his work and his efforts to make the invisible visible.
Light is a proactive and integral component of my sculptural practice. It’s not just an ephemeral, environmental condition into which my glass is placed, but an important part of the sculpture itself. This has always been the case for me, at times more subtly than others. For this body of work, I wanted to ask myself: how can light be complicated, interrogated, and contextualized as a medium?
I think about the different aspects of light—not just the visible “light” we can see, but light as an invisible substance; a radioactivity. UV light (specifically UV‑B) causes the body to produce vitamin D, which is essential for life. Humans need some UV radiation to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, which in turn promotes healthy levels of serotonin. I like to think we aren’t entirely dissimilar from plants in this way. We thrive through our own type of photosynthesis.
Just like any other type of radiation, too much light can be harmful. I wanted to make work that simultaneously shows that light not only exists on a color/visibility spectrum, but also a spectrum of growth and harm. That light, like water or heat, is something both essential and fundamentally powerful.
This body of work was conceptualized as a reaction to UV light. Its purpose is to make the invisible visible. To show how what we perceive as matter is dependent on invisible fields of energy, and that those fields of energy can be perceived through the right conditions. This work is meant to change shape with the light.
To show this, I have intermittently affected this work with black light displays in both photographs and exhibition. I use the black lights (which are a more concentrated form of UV light that shows the natural fluorescence of the glass) not as static environments but as editorial interludes. My hope is to show that there is no neutral context for this work and that it is always acutely activated, even when not readily visible. ◆