Husband and wife John Littleton and Kate Vogel have worked together in their studio near Penland since 1980. They are perhaps best known for their colorful, playful “Acrobags,” which started as a happy accident. The bags have made their way into collections across the country, including the White House craft collection. Their cast pieces are a dramatic departure from the lighthearted bags. Faces and hands are used in various poses and combination to explore states of mind, relationships, and even spiritual themes. When asked why they work with glass, they reply, “Choice, chance, circumstance, seductive qualities of the material…a little bit of all of the above. We stay with glass because it feels right. The process allows us to collaborate, start to finish. Glass is versatile and we see endless possibilities in it and through it. Hot glass responds quickly and spontaneously. We freeze its spontaneous gestures giving life to the finished piece. In our work we strive to make something that is a personal expression of our thoughts and experiences.”
When asked about their inspiration, they reply, “When people see something beautiful, why does it resonate with them? What are they responding to? Our collaboration is grounded in the many discussions we have about questions like this and our connection to the world. In our latest pieces we have been creating work that touches the place of quiet, still, and awe that we feel when we are confronted with the beauty of nature.
The Meditation pieces grew out of the What Do We Hold? series, where we looked at what is precious to us. The flower was built from wax one petal at a time. This allowed us to slow down and be part of the process of creation where we entered a dream world and a thing of solitude and beauty emerged.
Our work is a result of collaboration, changed from what either one of us would make without the other. We discuss all the formal elements involved in decision making: scale, proportion, line, negative and positive space, and color. Yet in the end although these things play a part in what we create and what we find beautiful, beauty is not an intellectual exercise. We connect with it on a much deeper emotional level and it is that place we strive to reach.”