The Ripple Interview
I'm Bryan, I run BGOLD Glass, my studio here in Boulder, Colorado. I consider myself an art activist. I am an art activist. BGOLD Glass uses 100% reclaimed material. All of my work is created from this abundant material known as trash. Here at the studio I’m doing lots of classes for people who have never blown glass before to come in and experience the material and feel, viscerally, the process and the making of something as simple as a functional vessel. Something as simple as a cup.
Currently I am working on The Ripple which is, simply put, a cup. A cup. A Vessel that can hold water. Metaphorically though, it's so much more. It represents the ripple that each of us have in this ocean we call life. Judaism teaches that we are all vessels that hold a soul, vessels that hold possibilities, possible life, possible love, possible ripples that we can share in the world. The Ripple represents our power, your power to create and share and elevate and bring light here in this realm that we all exist in.
So The Ripple started, during the Standing Rock protest, which was a big protest in 2016 around the Dakota Access Pipeline cutting through some holy lands and really endangering a lot of water. So during that time I rented a studio and gallery and had a Standing Rock awareness event where we brought together a panel of a water scientist, an oil pipeline worker, and a native voice to have a conversation. We then all blew glass together. This whole event was really celebrating a couple things. It was looking at the dichotomy between living in a world so reliant on fossil fuel and caring about the environment. This Standing Rock Awareness event also highlighted something close to me. It was around the time of Hanukkah so we paralleled the Hanukkah story with current uprising Standing Rock protests. The similarities are that Hanukkah is our celebration of the miracle of oil as well as the remembrance of a small group of people standing up to the Romans who were oppressing them. In this case, oil barons oppressing the people. Oil. Miracle. Life.
We made a cup using fossil fuels, we spoke about that dichotomy of using fossil fuels to create art, and the connection here is, so many plastic cups are made directly with fossil fuels. Oil makes plastic and it's so often just used once. This glass that I’m using to make The Ripple is a very recyclable resource; it can be melted over and over.
Really the essence of this art activism is to remind us that so much goes into a cup and then what we put in a cup, water-something that brings us life sustenance, is something to be celebrated. Something to have just a little bit more gratitude for. So this Ripple, this glass, in its essence helps us to remind ourselves that we should be grateful for the simple abundance that we have everywhere we look.
Another deep essence of The Ripple is that reminder that we all have the power to create ripples in this world. We all have the responsibility to pour our life, our water, into this world and make it a little bit more beautiful. A little bit better. A little bit more full of life.
So much of my work here at BGOLD Glass is really about connecting people to the things we use and I use the term mindful materialism when we’re thinking about this. Mindful materialism is really being more conscious about the things we use. Where they come from. What energy is used and wasted in the process of making these things. Mindful materialism is in a way an answer, at least a small one, to mindless overconsumption. So when we bring mindful materialism we are again more conscious about what we use which, so often means maybe using less. How many cups do I need? Being mindful when it comes to this type of materialism helps us feel more grateful for the things that we have.
So this process, the process of making The Ripple for me, in the glass studio, starts when I go collect the trash from other studios. Most studios have buckets for their waste and I go collect it. It's all different colors and I bring it to my studio and I re-melt it in the furnace. I throw it all in. I’ll often sort out cool colors and use them separately, reconstitute them in different ways but I throw it all in the furnace and melt it down and it turns cool water blue. This Ripple glass, in particular, is made with a mold. So I went to my neighbor’s metal shop and I collected some of their scrap and I bent it and welded it all together; then I used the process of glassblowing to efficiently create these cups. So once I collected the trash and re-melted it into cool water blue and I made this mold- a big part of why I’m doing this is because it’s actually creating a more sustainable approach to my practice in bringing the material from trash to vessel. It’s streamlining a way to kind of use mindfully the resources that I have in the most efficient and conscious way to create something beautiful and functional. This is a resource so I’m collecting the metals of the earth, taking fire to it, melting it down, using air to blow form into it and then, of course, filling it with water which is life.
So this story, this Ripple which is such a powerful action that we can and all should have in this world, is one that I’m gratefully able to share this holiday season, which sometimes becomes too unconsciously consumptive. I’m setting up a big installation. I'm bringing it together- a large Hanukkah Menorah, again celebrating the miracle of oil with a sculpture I made of the life of water which speaks of the flowing from the high Rockies, along the river banks, through the cities, into our vessels. I’m bringing those together in the middle of this huge window at a big mall to show the ripple and trying to bring these concepts to peoples’ lives. This art, here in this time, will hopefully remind us that we can be more mindful about our materialism and bring joy and growth and life through it. Every time we make these decisions, we are having our own ripple effects in this world. We are all artists and we are all creating this world that we can fill with more light.
(Interviewer) A thought that I’m having through your words is like- the way that recycling is so abstract to some people and in the videos I’ve taken here you can literally see the process of recycling happening right there. Whereas the way recycling happens in facilities is such an abstract thing that people don’t even see, it's kind of almost hidden to us. So I think it’s really cool and important to see that recycling happening in person.
(BGOLD) Yeah, totally. A huge part of what I do here at the studio is helping people feel viscerally the process, the energy that can go into recycling. I love The Ripple in its simplicity because it tells the story of recycling while connecting to life and to each other and to art activism.