Mark Gibeau

Mark Gibeau decided early on to shape the materials of the earth rather than till them. That decision has enhanced the collections of those who cherish sculptural hand blown glass. The son of farming parents, Mark spent his early childhood on his family's 2½ section mixed farm near Cluny, Alberta. After graduating from high school in 1973, Mark's interest in three dimensional forms and his feel for wood led him to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's carpentry program. Upon completion of the four year course, he worked as a carpenter and construction manager on projects in Alberta and the North West Territories. During this period, he explored wood turning as an outlet for artistic expression, and began creating more and larger pieces. When the Alberta housing market declined in 1982, wood turning became his primary focus; however, his elaborate wooden vessels and bowls, often having diameters of 44 inches, were simply too labour intensive to realistically market. So, in 1983, Mark investigated the creative possibilities of glass - first as a summer student at Red Deer College, then at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary. His three year intensive study of hot glass for sculptural and vessel forms drew upon his earlier understanding of structural integrity derived from wood turning. It also gave him the expressive freedom he had been looking for.

Mark Gibeau and his partner, Lorie Hedemark, now operate their glass blowing studio in Strathmore, Alberta, 30 miles east of Calgary. The studio houses a variety of equipment for heating, shaping, annealing, grinding, and polishing glass. The raw materials used in the glass blowing process are carefully selected for quality. Although Mark Gibeau is capable of making batch glass directly from sand, he considers that step too energy inefficient, toxic, and time consuming. Instead, he imports, from West Virginia, large quantities of clear glass which is softer and permits more working time. The colours themselves come from West Germany and are derived from heavy metals such as cobalt, gold, magnesium, and copper. Since the colours melt at different temperatures, just like the various types of raw glass, great care must be taken to ensure compatible coefficients of expansion.

Mark Gibeau's creative signature in hand blown glass is characterized by strong design, bold colours and high visual impact. He has exhibited his work extensively and is represented in galleries throughout Western Canada, United States, Germany, and Japan. In addition to meeting the growing demand for his elegant pieces, Mark also finds time to conduct workshops and demonstrations in Alberta and Ontario. From July 1989 to this year he has returned to Red Deer College, this time as a summer instructor rather than a summer student. The Alberta College of Art & Design, his other Alma Mater, also benefits from Mark's technical expertise as a part-time staff member, providing kiln design and construction services for the glass and pottery programs and helping that institution become one of the most technically advanced facilities in North America. Given the fluidity and grace of Mark Gibeau's glass designs, it is not surprising that his special hobbies include scuba diving and underwater photography.

The artwork of Mark Gibeau is represented by Rowles & Company Ltd., Alberta's Corporate Art & Gift Gallery, in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


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