Harvey Littleton, considered the father of the American studio glass movement, passed away on December 13, 2013 at this home in Spruce Pine, N.C. Littleton was 91.
North Carolina is saddened by this loss of a visionary artist, teacher and spokesman for the arts.
“Harvey Littleton was a giant in the world of contemporary glass. Though he started his art career as a ceramist, with considerable success, he will always be remembered as the founder of the modern studio glass movement,” said Jeff Pettus, Senior Program Director of Artists and Organizations at the North Carolina Arts Council.
“His impact on North Carolina craft goes far beyond his own impressive body of work. Harvey Littleton’s presence at Penland brought generations of glass and other craft artists to the school and region, helping to build its identity as a craft mecca,” Pettus continued.
His love of glass started as a child. He was the son of the first research physicist at Corning Glass Works and grew up in the world of glassmaking. Littleton received a Bachelor’s Degree in design from the University of Michigan in 1947 and his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1950. He was a nationally recognized instructor of ceramics at the University of Wisconsin.
In 1962 he left ceramics to begin a career in glassmaking.
“He never stopped innovating himself, continuing to explore new forms, like vitreographs, throughout his life, which he shared with others,” Pettus said. His innovation set in motion the dramatic development of glass as medium in contemporary art.
Both Harvey and his wife Bess were active members of the art community in western North Carolina, including those of the Toe River Arts Council. “We thank them both for all their support and for their leadership in our communities and in the greater art world. Pushing limits – always looking in new ways, exploring,” according to a statement issued by the Art Council.
The family will host a private celebration of the lives of Harvey, and of Bess, who died in October 2009 in Ft. Pierce, Florida on January 11, 2014. Bess Tamura Littleton and Harvey were married for 62 years.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations can be made to The Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Mitchell County that has provided invaluable support in the care for Harvey, and/or to the Penland School of Crafts “Harvey and Bess Littleton Scholarship Fund” that provides one full scholarship for a two-week summer session in hot glass.
The New York Times paid tribute to Harvey in an article that was published January 4, 2014.
Article sources: Toe River Arts Council and American Craft Council.