Art Pulse TV was in my studio a couple of months ago. They filmed us making some of my tube sculpture as well as my fragile stringer work. Here is a link to the episode. I hope that you enjoy it.


Article in San Diego City Beat Magazine

Illnesses helped shape Rob Morey's new passion

His new work is careful choreography between artist and dripping glass

By Kinsee Morlan a&c Rob Morey with one of his works, “Intercourse of Line and Shadow”
- Photo by Ryan Kuratomi


Rob Morey’s glass bowls and other decorative pieces are lovely, but the artist considers that side of his work his living, not his love. Lately, Morey’s passion comes when he’s working on his new body of work—extremely delicate strings of glass he weaves into chaotic yet controlled abstract compositions of color and form.

“This work is real different,” Morey says, chatting in his studio tucked inside a large yellow, metal building in San Marcos called Nottingham Artist Guild. “This work really comes from the heart, and it’s really about just me creating and finding that sweet spot inside…. This stuff, I don’t even care if it sells, I just make it for the joy of making it.”

Morey’s studio is basically split in two. His more commercial work, like his dragonfly triptychs and glass panels, are up front, and his laboratory is in back, slowly filling up with experiments: Melted glass that’s frozen into sculptures he describes as music or poetry in space.

Two small kilns are mounted about eight or nine feet off the floor. He checks the temperature—1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s too hot, so he turns the temperature down and waits to demonstrate his process. He grabs a small flowerpot filled with chips of glass, which he’ll put inside the kiln. When the glass begins to melt, it starts dripping slowly through a small hole at the base of the flowerpot and out through the bottom of the kiln.

With his safety goggles on, a pair of pliers in one hand and a heavy glove on the other, he pulls at the molten glass, swiftly twisting and turning it into loops and other shapes as it slowly oozes out of the kiln. After he gets a basic structure, he sets the mounds of stringy glass on his worktable and tweaks the pieces until the composition feels right.

“I talk about my work being a choreography between the artist and the material because glass is molten,” Morey says as he pulls at the gooey, wispy strings of glass, making a dance-like motion as he works. “Typically, glass artists…. they try to take that chaos, that molten glass that’s like honey on the end of a stick, and control it to make these beautiful things. I’m more about allowing the glass to partially control me and partially decide what it’s going to do.

“It becomes more accidental sometimes, although I know that when I take it and pull it down and take it back up I can do different things with it and get that kind of a curl,” he adds. “I can generally control what I’m doing, but not always, and that’s part of the philosophy of what my work is about—letting go.”

A little more than a decade ago, Morey was a high-school art teacher. He was content, but not happy. He’d always wanted to be a fulltime artist, but he never had the guts to make it happen. Then came his illness— Churg Strauss vasculitis, a rare autoimmune disease that first disabled him, then nearly killed him. Doctors recommended chemotherapy, and Morey found himself getting treatment next to folks with cancer who were in far worse shape than him. Every week, it seemed like another person didn’t make it back to their next treatment.

The chemo worked for Morey. His wife swiftly convinced him to give up teaching and go after his dream.

“She said, ‘Go do it; you barely escaped death, so now’s the time,’” Morey recalls.

And so he did, settling on glass as his medium because he likes the way it reflects light. He built a studio in his garage and struggled for months to find his particular style and voice. A year went by before Morey was back at his doctor’s office, this time to receive a shocking new diagnosis—testicular cancer. He started on chemotherapy again and was particularly affected—not by the possibility of his own death, but by watching those around him die.

Morey’s experience, mixed with his time in the Art Pulse Mentor Program, which takes mid- or late-career professional artists and offers them guidance and advice in taking the next step in their careers, inspired him to change the trajectory of his work. He began his attempts to capture the fragility of life—the fine line between life and death and the beauty and enjoyment that can still be had, even with the possibility of a certain end looming not so far away.

Morey reaches out and snaps off a tiny piece of glass from one of the latest in-progress sculptures sitting in front of him.

“Everybody’s got a clock in them,” he says. “And when the time is there, it’s there, and it’s part of this cycle…. So, this work is supposed to be joyful. But when you talk about fragility, people often think [it’s referring to] cancer and death and all these things, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about rising up off the ground and rising out toward space and reaching up and saying, ‘OK, I’m fragile, but screw you, look at me, I’m joyful.’ It’s about fragility, but despite fragility, there’s growth, there’s life, there’s existence.”

At an opening at Art Pulse gallery a few months ago, Morey’s new work was on display in public for the first time. One of his pieces was set on a pedestal, another mounted on canvas, held in place simply with dried paint. Several small bits of glass from both pieces had broken off and were collecting on the ground around the work. Indeed, the sculptures are so delicate-looking that it’s almost like they’re asking to be touched and tested. It’s tempting to reach out and poke them to see if they’re as fragile as they look.

“It’s kind of a compliment in a way,” Morey says. “People are being drawn to the work. They want to touch it and be a part of it.”


Short video of my artist statement


Click on the image to see a very short video of me talking about my work.


Fear and golf, how it might relate to art.

I love golf. I used to love fly fishing but since moving to San Diego, I haven't had as much opportunity to go out since there aren't any nearby rivers. I played golf before, but I really didn't like it much.  After my last bout with cancer, I took up the game with my trainer and I fell in love with everything about it. I'm not very good, but that doesn't matter as much as just enjoying the process of the game. I've been reading a book by Dr. Bob Rotella called, "The Golfer's Mind." It's about the psychology of golf, but you can easily change the words golf to life and it will be just as relevant. I was recently reading a chapter about fear and realized that one can say the same things about art. I'm going to repeat the chapter here, but change the words and you'll see what I mean.  Remember this is originally about golf.

"There are two sorts of fear; the genuine kind, and the kind you may sometimes feel when making art.

Let's suppose that you were walking with your child at the zoo and a pride of lions somehow  burst out of confinement and started running toward you and your child, looking hungry. You'd feel fear, the genuine kind, and you'd be right to dos. The fear reaction is one reason our distant ancestors on the African savanna managed to procreate before they became lion food. The passed this trait on to us.

Now let's suppose that you own the only art studio in the world and that you're the only one making art. No one would see your work. Would be ever be fearful when you made art?

You wouldn't of course. You'd have nothing to be frightened of. There are no hungry lions in your studio. So why, then, do some artists feel fear when they make art? In art, fear is usually rooted in the worries about what other people will think of you if you make something ugly or bad. Fear can also be evoked if you feel that your self or your identity is defined by making good art. But remember, fear of making art, (or maybe making bad art,)  is nothing more than a thought that you have chosen to entertain.

Art, at its core, is a social endeavor, and therefore it's inevitably associated with other people's opinions. Your art can evoke respect and admiration. It can persuade people that you have courage, that you are smart, talented and creative. Unfortunately, it can also persuade them that you're quite the opposite too.  In the end, the absolute worst thing that can happen to you is that you might make some bad art, you don't  hit the mark, you make something ugly, and someone says something behind your back or to your face. It's a blow to your ego and nothing more.

Tom Kite once told me his daughter's gymnastics school amazed him. Every time those girls worked out or performed, they risked an injury that could paralyze them. They had reason to fear. But they didn't. The risk was so great that it forced them to put it out of their minds and perform coolly. Maybe if art had that kind of risk, artists would learn to be as clear minded.

But there really is no danger in making art. It that sense it's like basketball, and something Michael Jordan once said is relevant. "Fear is like a mirage. It's an idea you made up. It really doesn't exist."

If someone has a lot of fear about making art, it tells me that they are spending a lot of time away from their studio worrying about never being successful, worrying that they are working their tail off, putting in time and energy, and that they will never be rewarded. They are fearful that they are not destined to have great things happen to them.  (My God, this is me!!)

I repeat the point that if you’re going to think about making art, you got to think about making great art. You've got to think about making art that really matters to you. It's okay to have occasional doubts, fears and worries. But you must not dwell on them. You've got to have the will and discipline to not allow yourself to brood about potential disaster, because the brain thinks that's what you want and that's what it's going to give you in the studio.

However, if your ever in the studio and a lion jumps out from behind a door and starts running toward you, you have my permission to be afraid. Fear will help you run faster."

Thank you Doc' Rotella.

Taken and paraphrased from "The Golfer's Mind: Play to Play Great"  by Dr. Robert Rotella.   ppgs.93-95.