This article appears in Sept./Oct. 2015 The Encounter.
Artist Corey Broman hears a musical note upon seeing a piece of glass.
“An instrument, a hum, a rattling, a chiming, a shattering,” he says. “Anytime I see a blown piece of work, it makes a sound.”
The 35-year-old glass sculptor will soon host his first solo display, “Unknown/Audible,” at Gallery 72 in the Vinton Street business district. The show runs October 16 to November 14 and features up to 40 of Broman’s distinctive glass works, along with samples of music he wrote to complement the pieces. (Broman began playing drums in high school and is the keyboard player for indie-rock outfit New Lungs.)
His work has appeared in several group shows; however, an artist’s initial exhibition as a single entity is a milestone, and Broman understandably obsesses over it.
“I’m really excited, but it’s an extreme amount of work for one dude,” Broman says. “This is completely consuming my mind. Sometimes my wife will be talking to me and I won’t have any idea what she just said. I think you have to get into it that much for it to be the best it can be.”
For “Unknown/Audible,” Broman will transform Gallery 72 into a quieter place. He plans to paint the walls a dark color to give it a silent, kind of compressed, atmosphere. This, combined with the music, promises an interesting experience for the viewer/listener.
In a way, the idea harks back to the 2000 Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at Joslyn Art Museum that blew Broman’s mind, inspiring him to take up glassmaking shortly after graduating high school.
“I walked into the exhibit and all you could see were these glowing, vibrant pieces of glass,” Broman relates. “No one was compelled to talk. Everything was just silent. You could hear, almost, the works. You didn’t care that much about anything around you.”
He had dabbled with painting and drawing for years, but nothing sparked his interest quite like glass. After seeing what kind of art could be forged from the material, 19-year-old Broman called glass sculptor Tom Kreager, who taught at Hastings College, and asked if Kreager could use an assistant.
Turns out the elder artist needed help, so Broman packed up and headed to small-town Nebraska to learn Venetian goblet-making techniques from a master artisan. His brain absorbed everything from various cold-forging techniques to how to duck when entering the kitchen of his tiny attic apartment. The move paid off. He has made glass in his own studio since 2003, developing an aesthetic through endless, sometimes brutal work while taking cues from the worlds of interior design and architecture.
“I’m inspired by textures of all sorts, tangible items that have an interesting texture or a certain shape,” he says.
If he is trying to make some kind of artistic statement with his coming exhibit, he prefers you not ruin the surprise for him.
“I don’t really have an underlying theme or some kind of hidden meaning behind my work,” he says. “Some people go for that. I keep it a little unknown.”