and raised in Plano, Texas, Eric Franklin stayed in the Lone Star
State until he was 22. He moved to Arizona in 1996 to attend Arizona
State University where he earned his BFA in sculpture. He's lived
and worked in Portland since 2001.
Inspired first and foremost by the human body, the physical and
psychological experiences Eric Franklin has had as an avid rock
climber, in addition to the dramatic settings he's experienced,
all contribute to the content of his glass work.
12" x 10" x 10"
"I was originally driven to sculpture as a way to make my
ideas more concrete and see them in a physical, three-dimensional
space," he said. "I think that is still true today, but
now there is the added motivation of seeing ideas progress in a
long-term, ongoing process. I am fascinated by the processes of
plasticity and adaptability and how those affect our lives."
Eric's sculptures are made of flame-worked borosilicate glass.
All of the glass he uses begins as straight tubes in various diameters.
Once the forms are complete, they are connected to a high-vacuum
pump, while heated in a kiln, to evacuate their interior of all
air, dust and water vapor in order to create a very clean and contaminant-free
Once all impurities are removed from the interior of the form,
the glass is allowed to cool and a small amount of neon or argon
gas is introduced. The glass is then sealed and removed from the
vacuum system. In most of the pieces the forms are placed in close
proximity to a high-voltage high-frequency power antenna, contained
in the base, to produce the illumination.
"Glass forms express light in different ways due to their
physical architecture as well as the employment of a living body's
electromagnetic field," he said. "This dynamic relationship
generates a dialogue of creative interaction."
6" x 18" x 15"
Eric's childhood days were spent in two completely different ways:
either quietly, sitting and drawing on reams of used computer paper
his dad brought home from work and building structures and spaceships
with Legos, or he would charge full speed around the house, yard
and neighborhood on foot or bicycle.
"I've always enjoyed extremely physical activities and to
be able to combine that with an artistic process just made sense,"
Eric took whatever art classes were available in school, including
an intensive drawing class his senior year of high school.
At Arizona State his studies bounced from subject to subject before
he eventually found his way back to art.
"It's kind of odd how it worked out though," he said.
"I've always had an interest in glass. Before I knew much about
glass it was the process that seemed most appealing. But I had a
really hard time finding off-hand glassblowing classes in Arizona.
I guess it makes sense that when it's 115 degrees outside nobody
wants to stand in front of a hot furnace. I eventually found a weekend
glassblowing workshop and probably did more off-hand blowing that
weekend than I've done since. It's just never been very accessible."
11" x 24" x 15"
The neon shop within the sculpture studio at ASU was where Eric
really started working with glass. His first assignment was to make
an outline of his hand with one continuous tube. He never completed
"I stayed at the studio every night until 3 a.m. for at least
three weeks trying to make that piece, but it always cracked, sometimes
exploded, before I finished. It was the most challenging material
I had ever worked with. I guess that's what intrigued me the most
because I just kept at it."
Eric eventually had success with some neon that was a little more
straightforward. Later in the semester he was trying to blow some
small forms using the neon glass and fires. When his professor saw
what he was attempting, he told Eric there was a better way and
sent him to the scientific glassblowing shop in the chemistry department
where they produced and repaired the glassware used in scientific
2" x 15" x 15"
"Just walking in the door for the first time and seeing some
of the things they had made on the shelves I knew I had found the
right place," he said.
"The glassblower, Mike Wheeler, took me in and shared all
his knowledge about glass. I took one of his glassblowing classes
and he always let me come into his shop and work.
"As well as an expert in glassblowing, Mike is an expert in
high vacuum systems. He eventually helped me make my neon vacuum
system that I still use to fill all my glass forms with gas.
"Because of his in-depth knowledge in principle he was able
to provide me with a thorough understanding of the science behind
what is occurring inside my glass pieces."
Eric's favorite artists include James Turrell, Alexis Rockman,
Mark Zirpel, Jim Campbell and Tim Hawkinson.
20" x 15" x 6"
A touch of glass
Eric organized and curates this month's show at Portland's new Guestroom
Gallery, 128 NE Russell, under the Wonder Ballroom. The show, glassmateria,
also includes the work of Mel George, Erika Kohr, Helen Otterson
and Pat Bako.
His glass work is also on view through April 9 in a solo exhibition,
"The Cognitive Body," at the Museum of Northwest Art in
La Conner, Wash.
Eric recently joined the Laura Russo Gallery and will be part of
an all-gallery group show there in October for the gallery's 20th
Eric's honors include an artist-in-residency at the Oregon Museum
of Science and Industry and inclusion in NuArt '05: Juror's Choice
at the Anacortes Arts Festival.