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Schwarz is currently recognized for his Z-Axis series, in which his intent is to “try to create an illusion of space.” With pieces crafted of clear glass with colored glass overlays, faceted and etched to create illusions of perspective, optics, and contrasts, Schwarz has made his way into the ranks of the top glass blowers in the United States. Educated at Clark College in Vancouver, WA, and Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, Schwarz continued on as a Staff Member at Pilchuck Glass School and received his Masters of Science/Glass from Illinois State University in Normal, IL, where he studied with Joel Phillip Meyers. Works by Schwarz are in the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY, the White House in Washington, DC, the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Clumbia, and High Museum, Atlanta, GA as well as numerous other public and private collections as well as corporations.
The sculptures of David Schwarz are a particularly impressive meeting of the two core strategies of glass fabrication and its subsequent adjustment and embellishment—hot-working and cold-working. They begin as so much of glass does, in the incredible heat of a furnace. Schwarz blows a dollop of clear molten glass that has an exterior overlay of colored glass (usually a tone of blue or rose) into one of a number of bubble-like globular shapes. These provide him expansive and volumetric forms, and surfaces that are created by the stretching of the glass as it cools amidst the pressure of the air pushing it from beneath.
Then comes the cold-working: Schwarz will subject each form to an incredible sequencing of cutting, polishing, and grinding, which removes the exterior coating of colored glass, exposing the clear glass beneath. His cuts-sometimes flat, like facets, sometimes curved, more like scoops into the glass-open up a proliferation of reflections and angular play, as light enters his form and bounces quickly around the various interruptions in its surface and interior. His cuts are like little windows that open up a vista of infinite variety, creating a meta-space that constantly changes and rearticulates itself. Light careens in visual polyphony, literally scintillating in motion and dynamism. Schwarz usually also grinds and etches smallish bits of the exterior surfaces of his pieces, and carefully airbrushes little abstract patterns of paint upon those pitted surfaces, setting up exterior rhythms that also somehow mirror restlessly within and without. His paint areas are often bold, somewhat akin to mini-grids, and embellish and assert the surface that is elsewhere undercut and faceted. Never stable, always in flux, yet somehow (and this is his greatest skill) organized, logical, inevitable, and very satisfying, his sculptures are apertures into a geometry of wonder, beginning as shape and ending as space.
In understanding David’s work and to know why he does what he does, it will help to know a little about his background and a few of the major influences that have affected his directions.
For three generations, the men in his family have been engineers. When he completed his military tour in the Army in 1974, and with no idea what career he wished to pursue, the simplest and most obvious choice was to continue the tendency of my brothers, father, and grandfather and pursue a career in engineering. For two summers while going to school, he worked for the Washington State Department of Transportation surveying and inspecting concrete. While training for a career in engineering his escape and passion was jewelry. He had and still does have a weakness for the brilliance of a wonderfully cut gem.
His “Z-Axis” series represents his interest in illusionary space. In geometry, X-Axis is the horizontal line, the Y is the vertical, the Z-Axis is the imaginary line that goes back into space. Schwarz is interested in the Z-Axis–the physical and emotional perception of three-dimensional space through illusion. Optics, perspective, translucency, and color are all tools in trying to create a more perfect illusion.
He draws structures that read mass, and place them in an environment devoid of gravity. Through the use of optics he gives the structures life and the freedom to move about his space. He wants his work to be visually explored. While the viewers eye is moving about his space he is hoping that the eye will evoke a physical reaction or sensation of weightlessness.
David’s work is about the sensations created from visually exploring his pieces inside and out. Movement of one’s eye activates the drawings through the facets giving them life. Without the ability to personally, visually explore his work, a complete experience cannot be achieved. Therefore viewing his work on the internet does not do it justice and one cannot appreciate what he has created.