James Michael has created a technique to incorporate mixed media within a glasswork. He assimilates a variety of metals and alloys into clear and colored glass to produce a wide range of freeform sculptures. To achieve the truest and most vibrant colors James Michael uses Kugler Color glass from Germany in artworks created with the applied color technique. By purposely encasing air bubbles in the glass, James Michael adds yet another level of optics to the interior of a piece, reflecting color and light in unique ways. The combined use of color, encased metals and entrapped air produces abstract and ethereal forms within the exterior confines of many of his artworks.
"While glass making has traditionally been viewed as a craft with a tangible, usable end product, I strive to evoke an emotional response. Glass, when it is being worked, has a personality. It is active, alive and ever-changing. To sculpt glass, you need only use temperature, air and gravity, you can't fight the elemental substance of glass. You must work with the material not at it."
The artist's concept of the flow of the creative process is evident when watching him work with the molten glass. The constant movement of turning the pipe, reheating the glass, adding color, shaping and working the glass is an extremely physical process. The background hum of the glowing furnaces and exhaust fans provide a rhythm to this "dance" as James Michael calls it.
"Glass making is a spiritual experience, one that I become absorbed in. I can work for hours at a time and be so deep in concentration that my trance is broken only by cracking a piece off and putting it into the annealing oven."
James Michael began blowing glass in 1990 at the Toledo Museum of Art. Since then, his work has been shown in numerous exhibits in the United States and abroad. James Michael's work is held in public and private collection in the United States, Mexico, Hungary, Germany, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, and the Netherlands.
James Michael has also been awarded grants under the Master Apprentice Program funded through the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, allowing him to pass on his glass making skills to an apprentice.
James Michael is actively involved in local civic and community leadership activities. His artwork builds on a lifetime of experiences in a wide variety of activities in other career fields.