Virginia’s Morgan Gilbreath uses reclaimed and often unconventional materials in her glass and mixed media art to bring the past and present together in exciting ways.
The artist: Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Gilbreath earned a BFA in glass, a BA in art history and a certification in community arts from
Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 2014.
She lives in Richmond, VA, with her fiancé (also a glass artist) and two cats.
Before becoming a full-time, self-employed artist in 2021. Gilbreath worked for many years in various fabrication, production and education roles.
The studio: Gilbreath works in her home studio in Richmond. It includes a basement kiln and glass-carving studio.
In the beginning: At age 16, she started learning glassblowing at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in her hometown.
The art & materials: Primarily glass and mixed media art made with found and collected materials, such as shattered glass, dust, stone salvage, paper and deflated sports balls.
What’s popular: Salt cellars and catch-all dishes ($60 to $126). Popular colors are aqua, red amber, olive, cilantro, clear and coral.
Other favorites: Aura series ($300 to $600). Broken glass swept up from various incidents. Then cleaned and refused in halo-like discs.
Inspirations: Many, including:
- Her childhood and being raised Catholic in working-class Pittsburgh.
“I’m fascinated by the ways that religion and labor intersect and the material accumulation that occurs over time.”
- Travel, rituals, relics, architecture, ancient history, art history, craft, factories and production.
Big break (s): Attending Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA, for the first time in 2013.
“This place changed my life and my professional career,” said Gilbreath, who has worked there every summer (except during Covid). “Attending Pilchuck has led to so many opportunities, friends, and even meeting my now-fiancé.”
Awards & honors:
- In 2021, selected as a Saxe Emerging Artist by the Glass Arts Society. This included a lecture at the virtual 2021 conference, a digital exhibition, catalog and honorarium.
- 2020, Aldo Bellini Prize. Awarded top prize at the international art competition for glass artists under 35. Her piece, Tower of Babel, is now part of the permanent collection at Sforzesco Castle, Milan, Italy.
- 2017, Pilchuck Glass School emerging artist-in-residence, a two-month fall residency at the glass school.
- Included in a traveling exhibition, “A New State of Matter: Contemporary Glass,” at the Boise Art Museum (2019) and at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (2020).
- Developing some taller tabletop sculptural forms and candelabras, as well as a few collaborations.
- Teaching a five-day intensive workshop about experimental kiln forming with recycled glass at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in May.
- A solo show at Alma’s, a gallery and shop in Richmond, opens March 24.
- Her cast glass vessels will be featured in the retail gallery at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh this summer.
Where to buy:
Get social: Instagram: @morgangilb