By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter
The Toledo Museum of Art has welcomed glass and contemporary artists through the residency program titled The Guest Artist Pavilion Project (GAPP) since 2006. The 50th recipient is Pittsburgh native, Percy Echols II, a black artist in a discipline featuring few other artists of color.
“A person of color hasn’t always been seen in this medium, I’m glad I can provide another face to this medium. I can name five artists of color in my medium, but three of them work with light and neon but don’t produce anything,” shared Echols.
Echols’ art incorporates gas, structure models and electricity into a final sculpture. Four noble gases: Neon, Argon and Krypton, Xenon, also known as Plasma, are held inside glass using a structure mold or structure.
“This art form allows me use molds to create shapes. The gases illuminate and provide colors, it’s called Plasma Light Art,” shared Echols.
He began experimenting with this art form in 2011, developed the necessary equipment in 2016 and over time has found a community of artists.
“I encourage other artists to find a medium that inspires them. I also found a community of other artists through glass which is worldwide. I have also found opportunity within the community, including this residency,” shared Echols.
According to the Museum’s website, GAPP invites artists to explore and be inspired without restrictions by the Museum’s collection, studio facilities and staff. The program features established and emerging artists’ residencies, public artists talk and offers intensive workshops with artists who can share specialized techniques with the community. Echols’ residency is from February 2-11, 2022 and will conclude with a virtual presentation on February 11 at 7:00 p.m.
“This residency has been a world-class experience. I’ve received 100 percent support from the staff and facility to pursue ideas. Sometimes when you receive a residency, you need to save up your money for expenses but this museum addressed all of those concerns. I’m grateful to the studio and tech staff for this opportunity to exchange and learn idea styles,” said Echols.
Echols’ work has been featured in galleries and art centers including: Krasl Art Center in Michigan, Fondazione Berengo in Italy, and BoxHeart Gallery in Los Angeles to name a few. He has received many grants and awards, including the Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, for advancing Black Art in Pittsburgh and the Edwin Niemi Metals Scholarship, from Illinois State University.
He is the curator of the 2021 exhibition: “LIT: Light in Transmission, A Neon and Plasma Light Exhibition” at the Hodge Gallery. He also earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Studio Glass from Illinois State University and has created his own podcast, “Taming Lightning.”
“Percy Echols II is a pioneering glass artist whose work in Plasma Light Sculpture is both unique and intriguing. We’re delighted that he will be sharing his talents with us as our 50th GAPP artist,” said Alan Iwamura, Toledo Museum of Art glass studio manager.