Oregon Art Beat

Southwest Washington glass artist Dylan Martinez challenges perceptions of reality

By Eric Slade (OPB)
April 6, 2023 12 p.m.

Blown glass sculptures look too good to be true

It appears to be a plastic bag full of water. Except it’s all maybe a touch too perfect. The bag is extra shiny. The trapped air bubbles hang dreamily — almost suspended in time. When you first encounter one of Dylan Martinez’s water bag sculptures, it’s hard to know what you’re looking at.

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These beautiful plastic bags are, in fact, 100% glass, created through a rigorous process in Martinez’s studio in Bingen, Washington.

Martinez made his first water bag sculpture during graduate school at Ball State University in Indiana. It was just one of many ideas he was exploring in his attempt to challenge human perception through blown glass. But the water bags took off in a way he never imagined: feature articles in fashion, design and art magazines. Today the sculptures are on display at high-end galleries across the globe.

Bingen, Washington, artist Dylan Martinez likes to challenge our perceptions with provocative and often deceptive clear glass sculptures, like his iconic Water Bag series.

Bingen, Washington, artist Dylan Martinez likes to challenge our perceptions with provocative and often deceptive clear glass sculptures, like his iconic Water Bag series.

Allyssa Burch/Courtesy Dylan Martinez

“I thought the water bags were cool but I had no idea that it would kind of hit a mass appeal,” he says. “I’m just a guy in a studio trying to make some work that he is really passionate about.”

The success of his water bag sculptures recently allowed Martinez to build his 4,000-square-foot glass shop and gallery in Bingen, just down the road from his former shop in White Salmon. The new space gives him room to push the boundaries of what he can do with hot glass.

“I feel like I have a pretty good foundation for understanding the material,” he says, “but I also know the possibilities are endless. So I’m excited to see what ideas I can pull out of it.”

Dylan Martinez’s work is on display at the 301 Gallery in Hood River. His Bingen, Washington, studio and gallery are open by appointment, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Contact: info@dylanmartinezglass.com

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