Nichols is at an exciting stage: after some 20 years
of working in glass, he has reached the point where
his ideas, not technical virtuosity, come first. As
a result, his work has grown in size to 30-inch sculptural
pieces and his imagery has expanded. Still inspired
by the moods and vastness of the ocean, he has lately
been pushing his concepts a step further. "It's
interesting," he explains "the wilder and
more colorful I make these pieces, the more they invoke
a sense of calm. A funny kind of inverse effect."
In the process, he has discovered a new eloquence. "It's
taken me years," he says "to make something
simple and not have the urge to gussy it up." Influenced
by Japanese art, a quiet sensibility is poking through
after years of experimenting in the studio. Like all
other glass addicts, Nichols has done his share of obsessing
on technique. In his quest to "build a better vocabulary,"
he has mastered such standards as blowing, casting,
annealing and fusing. He has even devised one of his
own: smashing. "I blow these forms," he states,
"then hit them with a hammer."
This leaves him with chunks of glass that become fog,
froth, foam, waves, beach stones and boulders in his
fused works. The technique, which allows him to work
bigger without requiring assistance, gives his work
its distinctively rough dynamics.
the medium brought him to the subject. Even though he
has gone to Penobscot Bay in Maine "all my life"
and seeks out Winslow Homers in museums, and even though
he loves to sail and drive power boats and spends hours
contemplating the ocean, he enrolled in studio arts
at Tulane University to draw live models, not seascapes.
There he stumbled
into glass, got hooked, and the medium's parallels with
water brought him back to the jagged coast of Maine
and his New England roots. "I like to take the
traditional idea of a seascape," he explains, "and
bring it into contemporary glass." --Lee