Michael Gloor: The Artist
From physics to furniture my journey has been filled with the unexpected. While studying to be a scientist in college I took a clay studio class and from that moment on matter and energy became delineated in form, texture, color and design. I transferred to and graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and moved to Rhode Island where I built a studio and opened a ceramics shop in Newport. I subsequently found myself building with wood, starting with house construction, then stair and boat work and finally custom furniture.
I take much of my inspiration from the past, and admire the clean lines of Shaker furniture and the simplicity and forms of Japanese ceramics. I have a very strong sense of line and volume and it is the nuances in proportion that makes a piece work. In furniture design, as in ceramics, small variations can make the difference between a strong form and a weak one.
Each of my pieces is quite different; I see images and play with shapes and ideas in my head and my style is ever-evolving. As I build, the design takes shape and I don’t always know where it will go until I’m done. Even when I do a piece in the same series, it’s not identical; I change it as I go, even if it’s only small details. In contrast, production furniture, not matter what the cost, is inert when it leaves the designers desk. It’s a drawing on a piece of paper which then never changes whether the final realized object is made by hand or machine.
For me the process is about honing your technique to allow you to give voice to your designs. It’s a circular process in that as you get better at designing that challenges your technique and as that improves it challenges your design sense. It’s about continually learning and being open; creativity is having a conversation, a dialogue with your materials. If your technique is good, it allows you to be a good listener. It’s like writers whose characters take on a life of their own and tell the author who they are and what they need.
The artistic process creates a relationship between the object and the observer; the maker and the user. It’s really a spiritual process; a link to the person who made the chair or the cup, who has literally inscribed themselves into the piece. It draws us back to the idea of the interconnectedness of all things. Art is a great part of what makes us human.
I exhibit annually at the Providence Fine Furniture Show and periodically at galleries and shows in the New England area. My work has been featured on the HGTV television series Modern Masters and pieces have appeared in a number of publications including Home Furniture Magazine, Newport Life, Rhode Island Monthly (where I was named one of ten RI artists to collect), in three volumes of Lark Books “500” Series and Taunton Press’s Custom Furniture Source Book. My pieces are in private collections both in the United States and abroad.