John Nygren is a senior member of the North Carolina
glass art community and a renowned American master. Throughout his 40 year career, love of nature and the environment have been persistent themes.
John Nygren's glass works range from landscape vessels, classic vase forms with delicately wrought natural elements, to whimsical frogs.
After earning an MFA degree from the Cranbook Academy of Art, Nygren first trained in the art of glassblowing at NC's Penland School of Crafts in 1968. Of the pieces produced in this three-week burst of creativity, two were juried into important exhibitions and a third purchased by Charlotte's Mint Museum. A year later he moved to Walnut Cove, NC, where he built the New Branch Glass Studio. Though living in North Carolina, Nygren's successful art career was firmly launched as a member of New York's newly formed Contemporary Art Glass Group (now the Heller Gallery) in 1973.
Nygren, among his numerous awards and honors, was named the Winston-Salem (NC) Artist of the Year in 2000. In 2006 he was awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Alumni Achievement Award for Art.
His work has been shown in more than 350 exhibitions throughout the world. Collections that feature his work include the Asheville Art Museum, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, the R.J. Reynolds Collection, the Corning Museum of Glass, The Mint Museums and the Smithsonian Institution.
At the New Branch Studio, working with only one glass furnace, Nygren melts recycled glass. The expediency of this approach to materials is constant with his active stewardship of the environment and his eminent artistic economy. Nygren has made a large collection of colored pulled cane glass rods. To produce a new piece, he gathers molten glass and creates a blown form, then uses the rods for cane drawing or flameworking. These are the extensive glass color palette which he uses to brings his three dimensional forms to life on blown vessels.
In order to identify his work, Nygren devised a system that could not be easily mistaken or forged. Nygren designed and made a sterling silver stamp imprinted with his initials JFN. After blowing a piece, a button of hot glass is applied over the punty mark: the silver stamp is imprinted into this button. In addition, Nygren engraves JFN, the date and registry number, plus a full signature with a diamond point on the bottom of each work.
Nygren’s method of registry and identification is as important to the glass as the piece itself and is unique to the way in which he records his work. Very few artists are as detail oriented as Nygren; he is an archivists dream. He keeps meticulous records of all pieces – this record keeping often takes as much time as blowing the piece. Nygren’s journal contains the following information: registry number, the date when the piece was made, and measurements. A written description and ink and watercolor drawing completes the entry. The registry is securely held by the artist. The registry number serves as a birth certificate and means of tracing individual pieces.
Sharon Neely Nygren
September 25, 1943-December 21, 2006
On Winter Solstice, December 21, 2006, my best friend and wife passed from this life. We had shared almost 43 years together in a truly bonded relationship. This time was filled with abundance. Her ability and willingness to copartner a rich relationship allowed a life that was blessed with a life style of love and freedom. Together we had a rewarding and successful career in the world of art. She took care of the "business" protecting me from the concerns of dealing with the outside world. This union produced a daughter we/I are very proud of and a body of glass that will long out survive me.
The last eight years of declining health were not easy. A history of diabetes left her a double amputee. She accepted the conditions and hardships with a strength and grace of spirit that lives on as an inspiration to me. As I move on in life, the memory of her courage inspires me.
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