Stephen Glassman first came to international attention while creating large-scale bamboo installations in urban sites devastated in the wake of the Rodney King Riots, Malibu Fires and Northridge Quake. These works became local symbols of resiliency as well as a springboard for the permanent, monumental public works he creates today.
Deaf and unable to speak as a child, Glassman seized art as a means of communication and self-expression. He went on to receive his BFA from SUNY Purchase and spent years traveling the country as a circus and street artist. In 1979 he settled in Venice, CA where the neighborhood alleys were dotted with the studios of Dennis Hopper, Ed Rusha, and Black Flag. Glassman was drawn to Venice’s sun baked landscape of dilapidated piers, cracked bleached concrete, fallen fences, and vast horizons – a remote outpost on the edge of Los Angeles and a hidden hub of creativity that would become known as Dogtown – the epicenter of modern skateboard culture. It was here that Glassman’s signature work took root – pulled directly from the urban landscape. Often formidable in scale, Glassman’s work is noted for how it “dazzles in slo-motion (and) creates a bracing, humanist kind of spectacle … that actually draws the viewer into the frame instead of alienating” (David Cotner, LA Weekly).
Significant projects by Glassman include an eight story sculpture for architect Bjarke Ingels’ (BIG) torqued pyramidal skyscraper (currently under construction on Manhattan’s West 57th street); a 4,000 square foot sculpture plaza for the LNR Warner Center in Los Angeles; Arkansas’ Southeast Shear (an NEA/ White House Millennium commission), the Sylvia Campuan Bridge in Indonesia; “Thornton Creek” in Seattle; Calgary’s “Frozen River”; Port of Los Angeles master plan and more. These projects have involved the collaboration of designers and builders including BIG, Arup, The Durst Organization, Eric Owen Moss, Steinberg Architects, Sasaki, Miller Hull, and more.
Much of Stephen’s practice has evolved from a creative and collaborative foundation in the theatre. He has worked with artists, directors, and venues including Moscow Circus, Phillipe Petit, Perry Farrell, Jonathan Borofsky, Nels Cline, Robert Wilson, Paris Opera, Los Angeles Music Center, Getty Museum, Olympic Arts Festival, Los Angeles Festival, Bread and Puppet Theatre, and more. Glassman’s public work has been included in the syllabi of classes at colleges and universities including Vassar, Syracuse, and Bard, and featured in the Lincoln Center Institute’s program on “Aesthetic Education.” Glassman’s design for “Urban Air” — a sculpture that transforms billboards into intelligently networked, floating bamboo gardens – has been the subject of over 21,000 blogs and articles, downloaded over 150,000 times on every continent, and has received over 600,000 hits on Google.
Glassman is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the National Endowment for the Arts, Nathan Cummings Foundation, London International Creativity Award, LA Cultural Endowment, and a 2000 Chrysler Design Award nomination. His private studio work has been collected and exhibited nationally and internationally. Published reviews have appeared in Art in America, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, Artweek, Landscape Architecture, Huffington Post, International Herald Tribune, Wired, NPR, National Geographic, and more.
Stephen Glassman still lives and works in Los Angeles with his wife – critically acclaimed director/choreographer Sarah Elgart – and their two daughters.