Visiting glass sculptor James Labold provides workshop at FIA Museum + Art School

FLINT, Michigan — Some of us enjoy viewing art, some of us enjoy making art, and some of us enjoy doing both. The Flint Institute of Arts Museum + Art School provides a range of programming that checks all of those boxes. Accomplished glass sculptor James Labold is making his first visit to the Flint area, and teaching a four-day workshop on hot blow mold and lost wax processes.

The workshop takes place Tuesday, March 5 through Friday, March 8 at the FIA Hot Shop. Following the workshop, the general public is invited to see glass-blowing firsthand with demonstrations on Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m., and Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m.

Donovan Entrekin, director of the Art School at the FIA, oversees the school’s programming and operations. Collectively, the school offers more than 500 classes and workshops each year, bringing in 5-8 visiting artists from around the world. 

“We strive to provide experiences that are fun, inspiring, and accessible for everyone,” Entrekin says. “By bringing James Labold to Flint, we are able to provide unique learning experiences for our region’s artists as well as an exciting and fascinating peek into the creative process for people of all ages and abilities.”

Entrekin is excited to finally see Labold’s workshop, which was previously scheduled for summer 2020, come to fruition. 

“James creates marvelous glass and mixed media sculptures that represent ways of using materials that are very unique,” Entrekin says. “As an educational institution, he is an ideal fit because the techniques and combinations he uses bring an entirely different way of working to our region. He will be able to provide students and visitors with something totally different than we are used to.”

Promotional flier for the workshop.
The workshop is available to students ages 15 and up and has eight spots available. Daily classes run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with meal breaks. Students will use blank wax forms, carve sculptures, and embellish them with rubber molds and additional textures and forms. They’ll also explore fabric, cardboard, and materials to incorporate into collages. Then they’ll use that wax to make molds and blow glass into the molds. 

No prior experience is needed. The workshop costs $500, but Entrekin says there is financial assistance available for all art school classes and workshops. 

Artist and educator James Labold has worked mainly with glass for around 23 years. He received his MFA in Glass at Ball State University and has worked in glass studios, furniture design, and production facilities. Even after two decades, the artist enjoys the possibilities that the medium presents which keeps him engaged.

“Glass is a pretty unique material,” Labold says. “Not a lot of people have experience working with molten material in this way. It’s something that’s very demanding, it can be very immediate, and something that’s really expressive. But there’s a lot more to it than just bowls and vases. I work these processes using molds and things that are more intensive.”

Labold has hosted workshops for students of all ages, ranging from 10 years old to 75 years old. “It doesn’t require a lot of experience in glass or mold-making, just a willingness to experiment and a curiosity about the material really goes a long way,” he says. “Even for people who have worked with the material before, this helps open up some new avenues of ways of working with glass.”

Labold hopes to share his approach to art-making, his excitement for the materials, and to pass on that knowledge and passion to participants. He has traveled to Detroit a few times and explored a few areas in Michigan, but this is his first trip to the Flint area. 

“It’s always very exciting for me to be in a new place, to get inspired by the community, history, and culture of the area, and meet new artists working there,” he says. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Entrekin hopes the event and demos can be engaging and inspiring for the community.

“We hope that the workshop and free public demos will provide insight into how artists work and develop ideas; help people grasp some of the techniques used by artists to create many of the works on view in the FIA galleries; and hopefully inspire people to create themselves,” he says. “Engaging with art is one of the most fundamentally human activities we can do and I hope people walk away excited by the idea of making things.”

The Flint Institute of Arts is open Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free for FIA members and Genesee County residents, $10 for adults, free for children 12 and under, $8 for students with ID and for seniors. Admission is free for everyone on Saturday, courtesy of Huntington Bank.
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.