Meet the Artist: Curtiss Brock

Meet the Artist: Curtiss Brock



 If you've ever seen our glass room, you have most certainly been entranced by the work of glass artist, Curtiss Brock. Curtiss is a revolutionary figure in the Southeastern glass community and continues to blow us away with the work he creates with the inspiration of the natural world. 

Curtiss currently lives in middle Tennessee where he is a professor leading the glass studio the School of Art, Craft, and Design at the Appalachian Center for Craft at Tennessee Technological University. He is also a nationally renowned competition dog trainer! Curtiss gleans inspiration from various sources in nature, whether it be minerals of the Earth, the reflection of light on water, or the forms and shapes of the natural world. 

The following excerpt is from his artist statement:

"Every single industry has been directly dependent upon our planet's minerals. We have grown so accustomed to this gift that many of us have come to take it for granted. Man's dependence upon fossil fuels is growing stronger than ever before. Even in a modern technological society we are facing a time when we must consider the implications of this dependence. My work is a simple gesture to try and make us stop to appreciate the power and great mystery of our planet."

How did you get started in glass?  Who did you learn from?

I started blowing glass in college. I stumbled across it because my roommate had a class and asked me to come help him at night. Once I started working with it I became fascinated, so I changed my major and the rest is my personal history.

Tell us about your most recent work. What was the inspiration behind it?

There are many things that inspire my work but in general my work is always about nature or about the principles and physical phenomenon’s related to nature.

What does creativity mean to you and what fuels it in your life and work?

The word creativity is a bit loaded. For example, if I drive home from work a different way is that being creative?  If I’m mowing my lawn in an unusual pattern is that creative?

I’ve done both of these things in an attempt to push myself to experience new things. Hopefully this type of thinking will lead me to working in a way that the viewer will experience new things when you see my work.

Tell us about a time you felt discouraged or full of self-doubt and how you moved past it.

Being an artist is nothing but self-doubt. You take it upon yourself to bring something into the world that has never been here before and you hope and pray that you can fill it with beauty and meaning. Attempting to do this, in general, is going make anyone feel insecure and full of self-doubt. It is a discouraging process because generally the results produce failure, but once in a while you make a breakthrough and produce something that you’re proud of. The experience will then start to loop all over again. So learning to be comfortable with discouragement and self-doubt this is part of the territory for this field.

What drew you to work with glass and what continues to bring you back and sustain your ambition?

Glass is an amazing material the fact that it can be transparent and opaque in the same piece is in itself highly unusual.  I feel we are experiencing a real renaissance in glass. There is an explosion of incredible things happening right now. I feel grateful to be living during this time I believe that when people look back on this time 100 years from now they will see that this period of time was great for glass work and there were many talented people working in the field.

Describe to us the feeling of being in your “flow” as an artist.

Flow by its very nature is a temporary state. It's difficult to get into “FLOW” because often the more you try to get flow the harder it becomes. So what works best for me is to try and build an environment that it could show up in. You do this by working very hard day and night hoping to experience that temporary state.

When you hit a “FLOW STATE” mainly we are talking about is a place where a collaboration happens between your ideas and what the material has to offer. You have to be open and listening carefully because it only comes as a whisper but if you listen carefully and hear the whisper it can be a wonderful collaboration.

If you could be anything else, what would it be?

I am a college professor and I love teaching. I get a lot of joy from helping people work with glass. In 2009 I was awarded the arts educator of the year.  I also love training my dogs and I own a 4000 sq ft.  training facility designed for working with dogs.  Two of my dogs are obedience trial champions and one of my dogs has been invited to the national champions in Los Angeles five times.

What is the best piece of advice you were given early on in your career as an artist?

"You always hold the rights to your effort, but never to your results. Results are entitled to no one. At best, they are on loan and must be renewed each day." 

You can view and purchase Curtiss Brock's Work here.