- Edward Clark’s work ranges from exquisitely detailed marine sculpture, such as “Mother and Child” (above) to elegant and functional drinking glasses.
Among the Maori, the word “taonga” has special significance. It can be translated as a “treasured thing.” So when Hawaii-based glass artist Edward Clark opened his own studio in 2005, he named it Taonga Glass with the hope of creating glassware and art objects destined to become heirlooms.
Growing up in New Jersey, Clark began studying oil painting at the age 6. In high school, he became interested in sculpture, and also experimented with stained and fused glass. In 1999, however, he fell in love with glassblowing, which, he quips, “is a one-way ticket to Seattle.”
Clark ended up just south of the Emerald City, studying at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. He double majored in art and marine biology, a move that prove extremely influential to his work.
Clark moved to Hawaii in 2006 to research coral ecosystems. In 2011, he expanded his glassblowing studio, offering classes for all ages and hosting events.
Clark’s one-of-a-kind sculptures are based on the fragile ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean. The plants and creatures that he depicts demonstrate the balances and dependencies of the sea. A fish is shown nibbling algae from a plant; different species of coral grow colorfully on one piece of reef. Through these pieces, Clark hopes to educate about the symbiotic relationships of the ocean and the importance of “following the natural course.”
However magnificent these creations are, Clark still highly values his production work. “Not only has it allowed me to gain the skills necessary to make the harder work, but it has a true place in my heart.” He specializes in elegant and fun stemware. He is always mindful of the legacy of glassblowing, drawing upon millennia of artistry for inspiration.
“We have found glass over 5,000 years old,” Clark says. “I think it is important to remind every person I interact with that glass has been an integral part of civilization.”
Whether one-of-a-kind sculptures or production pieces handmade with just as much love and concentration, Clark’s glasswork is worthy of becoming taonga.