Detritus of War

These pieces, cast glass blocks combining mixed recycled bottle glass with text, represent a change for me.

I have long been fascinated with rock forms and with text as an art form. The Detritus of War series combines the two. The rock forms are meant to show the debris left behind by war. The text is letters from my father to his family while serving in France during World War I. My intent was to have the words visible but not totally readable. They are bits of memory poking through the rubble.

World War I was so long ago. My father fought in it as an idealistic young man. Over 60 years later, among his last words to me were about a good friend who had been blown up beside him. The trauma lived on and on. I wanted to create a remembrance of the fragility, chaos and debris that war leaves behind.

Detritus of War #1

Detritus of War #1

The first attempt. Too contained, too neat. I wanted more chaos.


Detritus of War #3

Detritus of War #3

Getting better, but still too controlled.


Detritus of War #4

Detritus of War #4

The first one that conveyed a sense of the destruction and chaos that war brings. This could be the muddy trenches.


Detritus of War #6Detritus of War #6

This one caught, for me, the rubble shown in a photo in my father’s files.
The text is from a letter he wrote just after the Armistice, mentioning the revolution going on in Germany and commenting that his regiment might have to “cross the Rhine” into Germany to restore order.


These were created for the Raphael Founder’s Prize competition in 2007, in which I was a Finalist. The prize honors Ms. Elizabeth Raphael, who was the founder of the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA. This prize is given biennially to a craftsman in a rotating series of media, with the theme of “Transformation”. The 2007 medium was glass.

Detritus of War #5 and #6 were in the Exhibit “Transformation 6: Contemporary Works in Glass” at the Society for Contemporary Glass in Pittsburgh September 7, 2007 through January 12, 2008. This exhibit is traveling. Next Stop is the Philadelphia Art Alliance November 2008 through January 2009.