Michael Robinson, Artist in Glass

While visiting the Whetung Ojibway Arts and Crafts Gallery last week, I learned that the Metis artist Michael Robinson died last summer at the untimely age of 62. I never met him, but I mourn his passing.

I had the good fortune to discover his glass sculptures at Whetung’s thirty years ago. As I understand it, glass was his original medium, but injuries from a traffic accident in the mid-Eighties forced him to shift to less demanding art forms.

I collected eleven of his vases over the years. They are all solid and substantial, yet also graceful and beautiful. The designs are abstract, rising from broad bases to flattish tops, generally with a small hole for inserting a flower. But I think they were meant to be seen on their own, rather than as a vehicle for flowers.

They often remind me of the shape of a human torso, clad in a robe or tunic. The glass itself is usually deep blue, purple, or crimson, though I also have one that is clear. While the glass is strong and thick on the outside, somehow Robinson was able to pull delicate threads of glass through the openings of the vases. The contrast between power and delicacy captured my imagination, and I bought one or two on every trip to Whetung’s.

I note on Michael Robinson’s website remembrances of his creativity in printmaking, etching, and poetry, and his role in his family, but nothing about his glass work. So I hope this post stands as recognition of that important element of his artistic output. These works stand in my home, and inspire me with their beauty and their demonstration of a unique talent. Thank you, Michael Robinson.

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