Growing up near Penland School of Crafts, Kenny Pieper had the opportunity to study with some of this country’s masters and to be inspired by visiting instructors and students. First, as a high school student, he took classes in ceramics with Cynthia Bringle and Norm Schulman, later glass caught his interest and he studied under Richard Ritter. Now, years later, Kenny is a glass artist of significance and he is in the role of teacher and mentor.
Kenny’s path was a circuitous one, leading him to study in Detroit’s Center for Creative Studies, then to Oakland and the California College of Art and Design, finally back to North Carolina and the mountains of his childhood where he spent seven years running the glass studio at Penland School.
Kenny excels in the Italian style of glass blowing. Elegant shapes and precise design motifs are implicit in Kenny’s glass. He incorporates Murrini, Primavera and cane techniques as well as his own variations to achieve his stunning results. “Glass can never be ‘mastered’ in the sense you reach a point you have complete control over it,” he says. “It’s material that begs to be worked with, not worked at. Just the act of creating is a large part of what gives my life meaning and keeps me engaged with the world.”
Pieper is part of the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, the Asheville Art Museum, the Hickory Museum of Art, and the New Bedford Museum of Glass in Massachusetts. He has been a feature artist in solo and group exhibitions across the country and has taught recent workshops at the Corning Museum of Glass.
Watching Kenny and his assistants in the blown glass process is like magic. It is a dance of precise movements and timing, a stunning process you’ll never tire of experiencing. Touring this studio will give you a look into the duality of both historically practiced glass blowing techniques and modern adaptations.