Washington Blade - November 11, 2005
THE NEW D.C. baseball stadium has many Southeast business-owners
in a tizzy, trying to find new locations for places that have
existed for years. Along with several gay bars in the city's Navy
Yard neighborhood, The Washington Glass School received its
notice of imminent domain a couple of weeks ago.
For Tim Tate, gay co-director of the School, however, this move
predicates bigger and better plans.
"We're already the largest warm glass school on the East Coast,
and at the new space, we'll have twice the classroom size and
three times the number of kilns," he says.
Tate says he isn't able to reveal the new location yet until all
the details are worked out, but the school is packing up and
moving to the larger locale in mid-December.
"Everyone is doing so much to bend over backwards for us...
Washington Project for the Arts, the Arlington Arts Center,
everyone," he says.
EVEN IN THE middle of looking for a new home for his school,
Tate's personal artistic output hasn't lagged. His largest solo
exhibition, "Caged by History," with more than 40 original pieces
of glass art, opens on Friday, Nov. 11, at the Fraser Gallery in
Bethesda, the show runs until Dec. 7.
The owner of the gallery, Catriona Fraser, is Tate's main
representation in the D.C. area. She says her gallery is
committed to showing art that is challenging to people and
broadens their horizons.
"We're not a glass gallery," she says. "He is the only artist we
have that works in glass. [His work] is narrative and
allegorical. It's something meaningful and important."
Tate, who has been working as a glass artist since the mid-'80s,
says that the last few years have been particularly fruitful for
him. He was awarded the D.C. Mayor's 2003 Art Award as an
outstanding emerging artist, and he was named one of the Out
Magazine's 100 People of the Year in 2004.
Many of the pieces in the current show can be seen as growing out
of Tate's experience living with HIV. Tate was diagnosed as
having the virus that causes AIDS in 1984, and many of his glass
pieces are etched with or sculpted into a plus sign symbol,
indicating an artistic icon of an HIV-positive status.
"I speak a lot about how my creation of art is healing to me and
others around me," he says. "It doesn't have to be from HIV. I
want it to be healing for anyone who knows what it means to have
any difficult news and then reinvent yourself."
Artist Tim Tate
IN ONE OF the show's pieces, nine heart-shaped bottles rest in a
grid pattern on a black background, and the bottle stoppers are
crafted into tongues of flame. Etched on the hearts are a plus
sign, the biohazard symbol, a poem by Rumi, and the chemical
equations for all the meds Tate takes for HIV.
"I am hoping that nine people will attach to nine different
[hearts] and find their own kind of healing," he says of the
Although Tate grew up in an atheist household, much of his work
takes on a Catholic feel. He has a series of reliquaries, which
in Catholic tradition are containers that hold sacred relics of
One of Tate's reliquaries is a bottle, stoppered with a red
positive symbol, and inside it is a nest containing birds' eggs.
According to the artist, this reliquary, as in the Catholic
tradition, is a healing work.
"The nest and eggs are meant to be healing [symbols] - to be
reborn through adversity," he says.
What an ideal symbol for Tate's work - both finding a new home
for his studio and working within it.