An Interview with Jack Larimore

An Interview with Jack Larimore

Last week’s industry event at the Philadelphia Art Museum was unique in a couple of ways: for one, the only product showcased was broken. The evening, co-sponsored by McGrory Glass, honored artists featured in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “At the Center: Masters of American Craft” exhibit.

“It’s humorous for Brianna and I, because she gave me the glass for this piece and I busted it up and wadded it onto the floor. It transformed organically: I don’t know how I would have gotten what I got in any other way,” said artist Jack Larimore, whose piece Trial uses salvaged timber and panels of McGrory’s baroque (square) wired glass. A recent AIA Philadelphia article announcing the exhibit described Jack’s work as “combin[ing] a reverence for organic material with the art of sculpture – suggesting function, while utilizing natural and animal forms.”

Brianna Nastasi, a regional architectural consultant for McGrory Glass, has worked with Jack on various projects over the years. A distinguished sculptor and furniture maker, he is also a Senior Associate at Cecil Baker + Partners and a former landscape architect.

“We donated this glass to Jack because he is such an inspirational artist. I was thrilled to be able to help with the vision for his newest sculpture,” said Brianna. “Jack is able to create things in art that can’t be said in words.  His use of nature has inspired me in so many ways. My colleagues and I were honored to be able to share that experience with the community.”

In a post-event interview for our blog, Jack described the unique nature of glass as a material for art and architecture and discussed the importance of community, context and dialogue in a rapidly growing industry.

Trial, by Jack Larimore / Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, via Jack Larimore

Interview with Artist Jack Larimore

Brianna: Why is glass so evocative to work with?

Jack: Glass is a very unique material in terms of the range of the surface quality, in the sense that you can have a surface that has some depth – whether it’s transparent, or translucent, or has some kind of back painting. It also carries with it a sort of psychological connection for people, in a lot of different ways. It’s a great thing to have in the palette.

Glass can offer a theatrical sensibility to an interior for all of these reasons, but also for the different ways that it responds to light. An etched mirror has a diffused surface, so it’s not really a mirror – but it loves light. It’s also activated by movement. You don’t see yourself clearly, but if you move past it there’s just enough reflection to create activity in the glass. It’s one of the few materials out there that can offer that dynamic.

A tremendous range is available. For example, there’s versions of glass that are crackled. It’s something that actually becomes attractive when it’s broken. Talk about a psychological response! Broken glass – there’s a lot going on there. Breaking the glass for this piece, Trial, was accidental. Fortunately within my art process I can follow the organic process. You can be reactive, not prescriptive. It makes it more satisfying and exciting.

Brianna: What was unique about last night’s event?

Jack: A lot of times, companies will host an event at their showroom, which is good – it works in a lot of ways and keeps people attuned to what is going on in the product world. But the generosity in an event like last night’s is that the sponsors are saying: “Hey, we’re all in this industry together, and as we grow, we can grow together.” McGrory Glass is great because they see the importance of the community and the dialogue that goes along with that – it’s a network. You can talk a little bit about business and a little bit about understanding each other. A big part of what makes Philadelphia wonderful is this kind of community.

The conversation it opens up is, what is the relationship between art making and place making? How does the evolution of the studio craft movement relate to the evolution of design and interiors? Because of my work in sculpture and architecture, I’m straddling both worlds and I see that connection. Events like last night create a space to talk about it.

Brianna: What has it been like to be part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “At the Center: Masters of American Craft” exhibit, curated by Elisabeth Agro, the Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts?

Jack: The exhibition at the museum has made me more aware of how objects have the potential to offer different experiences based on their context. Museum exhibition – in the presence of other artists, and where things are curated together by someone who is thoughtful, intelligent and inquisitive – has given me a whole new experience of my work. It’s got me considering context as a part of my process, especially as it relates to the actual installations of the artwork. You tend to make a piece and get it photographed standing alone, in white light – but it’s never going to exist in that way. It could be in a commercial exhibit, or it could get moved into somebody’s home and they have an understanding that’s different than yours. The context changes completely based on the installation.

That’s one of the great things that came from the event, that realization. Just to have a curator who’s excellent and who you can have a dialogue with is expansive. Going back to our earlier discussion, conversation within communities creates valuable growth.

Brianna: How does context relate differently to your work with interior design?

Jack: When I have my architect hat on, I’m very much thinking that the interior I create is primarily context, versus an object. It’s not a thing, but a stage. You want to make an interesting, proactive interior that makes room for the color of life.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the exhibit, open through July 2018 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

CLICK HERE to visit Jack Larimore’s website and view his current portfolio.