Theatre Graduate Interprets Contemporary Art for
WHEN THE RENOWNED Museum of Glass (MOG) in Tacoma, Washington,
first sought a lead interpreter, it would have taken a forensic
artist to construct a reasonable likeness.
There were only scraps and glimpses of the ideal person in
mind: someone steeped in the visual, literary and performing arts;
a theatre professional able to connect with the public; an artist
of vision who could act, direct, write, teach and make contemporary
art accessible to tens of thousands of visitors each year.
Sam Vance ’96 got the job. He is a man with a bold imagination
and a rich, varied education. MOG exhibits change every three to
six months, and it is his job to think of compelling, educational
and, above all, original ways to interpret them. It might mean writing
and directing a one-act play to be performed over the course of an
exhibit’s run. Or, in the case of the exhibit called “Glass
of the Avant-Garde,” staging a reading of Kafka’s The
Metamorphosis, literature written in the same time period that the
glass works were created.
Asked if he has a passion for glass, Vance demurs, “I’m
not a glass blower, although I’ve done it just enough to appreciate
how difficult the process is.” But glass art is creative, and
Vance is nothing if not passionately creative. “My theatre
training at SPU built an essential creative foundation for much of
the work I’ve done since graduation,” Vance says. “I’ve
been given so many diverse opportunities to act, direct, write, design … the
list goes on.”
Along with wife and fellow artist Candace Eyre Vance ’95, he
has “paid the rent” and “pieced together” a
career in the arts by remaining artistically flexible and receiving “a
good dose of God’s grace.” His newest projects for the
MOG are writing and directing a short film that will interpret the
artwork of Sandy Skoglund, and writing/directing a one-act play based
on the work of local artist Marita Dingus, utilizing found objects.
Considered one of the seven design “Wonders of the World 2003” by
Condé Nast Traveler magazine, the MOG employs a crack security
team that keeps a sharp eye on the breakables. Vance and other museum
employees constantly deal with the misconception that famed glass
artisan Dale Chihuly actually lives in the building. Though
the MOG was partly built in recognition of Chihuly’s standing
in the art world, Vance must often tell hopeful visitors that no,
the great man himself cannot “come down” and sign autographs.
Vance may have a one-of-a-kind-job, but for creative expression that
can’t be beat, the curtain just rose on the arrival of the
couple’s first child, Max, in November.
— BY CLINT KELLY
— PHOTO BY DANIEL SHEEHAN
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