Mark Abildgaard received his BFA from San Francisco State University where he was introduced to hot glass in 1979. He continued to pursue glass blowing as a graduate student at the University of Hawaii where he received his MFA in 1984. After graduating Mark was a visiting artist for nine months at the Tokyo Glass Art Institute in Tokyo, Japan. In1985 he was a recipient of a five month fellowship at the Creative Glass Center of America in Millville, New Jersey where he devoted his time to sand casting images of boats and totems. One of these early sand cast Totems was acquired by the Corning Museum of Glass for their permanent collection. He maintains a studio in Northern California where he has worked continuously since 1986 creating one of a kind glass sculptures.
In 2015 Mark was awarded a grant to develop a new body of work using the lost wax casting process from The Leff-Davis fund for Visual Artists from the Sacramento Community Foundation. Mark works directly in clay or wax to create glass sculptures that have multiple layers of imagery. A primary focus of his work is using the inherent property of the material to transmit light as a way to express a feeling of spirituality Abildgaard’s sculptures are inspired by artifacts from numerous cultures. Some of these influences are Cycladic marble figures from Greece, Malangan carvings from New Ireland, and Totem Poles from the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest in North America.
I have found inspiration in looking at the artifacts from many different cultures that are able to convey a sense of mystery about mankind’s existence through time. I use images of totems, boats and figures in my work to explore ideas about the cycle of life and death. I try to create archetypical images which are not culturally specific. In working with these images I am seeking a way to combine ancient forms and my own life experiences. I want my work to maintain a connection to the past and at the same time reflect a sense of the immediacy of the moment when glass, light and color interact
Abildgaard’s sculptures have been included in the permanent collections of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, the Oakland Museum of Art in Oakland, California, the Richmond Museum of Art in Richmond, Virginia, the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, California, the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, California the Fresno Museum of Art in Fresno, California and the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin as well as numerous private collections.
Mark has taught workshops in kiln casting glass at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass, The Pilchuck Glass School and Red Deer College in Alberta, Canada as well as many private studios and schools across the country.