Public Television for Western New England

'Where the Earth Meets the Sky' Takes Viewers To Shelburne Falls studio of Josh Simpson

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The Shelburne Falls artist known on three continents for his intricate glass "Planets" lets television cameras inside his world. "Where the Earth Meets the Sky: The Glassworks of Josh Simpson," is a WGBY documentary produced and directed by Keith Clark.

"When it's hot, glass is alive," Simpson tells viewers, comparing his studio to a "weird science project." The way Simpson works in front the WGBY cameras, glass becomes a magical, even mystical material. Viewers witness the genesis of one of his famous "Megaworlds," colorful orbs layered and adorned with continents, clouds, coral reefs and space ships. Interviews with Simpson and his astronaut wife Cady frame the artistic process, adding to the "cosmic" aspect of his work.

Clark, an Emmy-nominated lighting designer, also fills the hour-long program with stunning images of Simpson's other glassworks, including his "New Mexico" glass, cobalt-blue glass with patches of silver, inspired by the "New Mexico sky at dusk"; and "Tektites," which are iridescent, molten sculptures that challenge traditional assumptions about glass.

Simpson, whose fascination with planet Earth began with the first moon landing in 1969, describes his and "Planets" as "little worlds from some other universe." "I want people to get a sense of the beauty of the whole world we live in," he says. He takes the symbolism a step further by "hiding things" inside each "Planet" for owners and admirers to discover. "I am always thinking what explorers will find." The artist-visionary has also hidden marble-sized "Planets" at sites around the world.

Viewers also learn about Simpson's beginnings as a glassblower, a time when he lived in a tee-pee in the open spaces of Vermont and drained his savings to build his first studio out of old barn pieces.

Simpson's work is part of the permanent collection at the White House, and in the homes of such notables as violinist Isaac Stern and actor Alec Baldwin. His work is known as far away as Malaysia. Simpson is also long-time supporter of WGBY. His works have been part of the WGBY Gallery Collection Auction, an annual fund-raiser for the public television station.

Visit Josh Simpson's website.

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