Jeff Zimmer (b. 1970, Minot, ND, USA) originally trained in theatre in Washington, DC, where he lived for 24 years, working for non-profits and political organisations. In 2004 he moved to Edinburgh to study painting on glass at the Edinburgh College of Art (Masters, 2005). He has studied glass painting with Judith Schaechter, Mark Angus, Cappy Thompson and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend. He teaches at the University of Edinburgh, and has taught at Pilchuck Glass School (USA), Bild-Werk Frauenau (DE), North Lands Creative Glass (UK) and others. His work is in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK), the European Museum of Modern Glass (DE), the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft (DK), the Glasmuseum Frauenau (DE) and North Lands Creative Glass (UK).
In my work I explore issues of certainty, doubt, guilt and innocence; it is a celebration of the beauty in ambiguity and enigma. My work is usually political but not polemical; instead I hope to provoke both a meditation on a theme and a sensual experience of light.
Creating worlds within which to become immersed fascinates me. In my work I exploit the transparency of layers of glass to create a three dimensional sense of space and depth. This allows the observer to see one thing through (or around) another, to hide and reveal elements of the composition. The images shift and change with the movement of the viewer, forming, resolving and dissolving depending on the vantage point. They exist somewhere between painting and sculpture, and can often resemble holograms of vintage photographs.
Though most of my work is political in nature, I prefer to step back from the particular and question underlying assumptions. In a polarized, post-9/11 ‘good vs. evil’, ‘with-us-or-against-us’, ‘us vs. them’ environment I view ambiguous subject matter and visual presentation styles as inherently political acts.
In the luminous, internally-illuminated landscapes of the Whitewash series, unspoiled snow contrasts with barely-concealed debris that remains, only partially hidden from view. The snow is a metaphor for the way we ‘whitewash’ our memories and pasts. In our lives we, as individuals and as nations, inflict pain: we break a heart; we bomb a country. Yet we must continue to see ourselves as virtuous – even noble. Creating landscapes that are littered yet remain beautiful encourages reflection on the inevitability that we are all complex, afraid and imperfect.
In my current work I am exploring the disconnect between action and consequence. In any unequal relationship, the ones with more power, be they politicians, executives, financiers, parents or lovers, rarely experience the harshest consequences of the decisions they make. Like the remote operators of unmanned drones, they have the power to disrupt and destroy without exposing themselves to risk. Carrying on from the use of snow in the Whitewash series, the Disconnect Between Action and Consequence series uses cloud cover and a sense of distance to emphasize the disconnect between the actor and the acted upon.
I use traditional stained glass techniques involving glass enamels hand-painted on multiple layers of glass and fired at 1,040°F/560°C in a sequence requiring multiple firings for each layer of glass. The layers are then arranged and framed, often behind vintage frames, and mounted in a lightbox so that a three-dimensional image is created.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK.
Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, DK.
Glasmuseum Frauenau, Frauenau, DE.
North Lands Creative Glass, Lybster, UK.
Exhibitions (Selected Group)
Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass (Catalogue) - Veste Coburg Art Collections & European Museum of Modern Glass, Coburg, DE
UK Glass Het GlazenHuis, Flemish Centre for Contemporary Glass Art, Lommel, BE
September 2013 – January 2014
Shattered: Contemporary Sculpture in Glass - Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, USA
December 2012 – March 2013
Light and Shadow - Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Ebeltoft, DK
November 2012 – February 2013
Royal Scottish Academy Open - Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, UK
July – September 2012
European Applied Arts Prize (Catalogue)
Exhibition Hall “Anciens Abattoirs”, Mons, BE
Cultural Exchange (Catalogue)
North Lands Creative Glass, Lybster, UK. Curated by: Mieke Groot
August – October 2012
Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Glass In A Museum Environment
Caithness Horizons, Thurso, UK
January – February 2012
Lüstern Wohnen : Lichter – Leuchten – Lüster – Lampen
Eisch-Atelier ‐ Galerie am Museum, Frauenau, DE
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
Invited Guest Country – Craft Scotland. Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA
May – November 2011
British Studio Glass - European Museum of Modern Glass, Rosenau, Coburg, DE
Curated by: Sven Hauschke
March – December 2011
Trove (Catalogue) - Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Perth, UK
Curated by: Roger Dodsworth, Kari Moodie & Sandra Martin
Washington Glass School 10th Anniversary Exhibition - Longview Gallery, Washington, DC, USA. Curators: Tim Tate, Michael Janis, Erwin Timmers.