Who’s Who – Rob Stern

By Louise Irvine

It’s true what Cinderella says, “One shoe can change your life!” and we have 50 of them at WMODA! Thanks to the brilliance of Miami glass artist Rob Stern, our latest exhibition caught the attention of Deco Drive, the daily entertainment news magazine program on channel 7 which reports on trends and celebrities in South Florida. WSVN reporter Alex Miranda visited WMODA and was so dazzled by Stern’s Stilettos, he reenacted Carrie Bradshaw’s urban shoe myth scene from Sex in the City.

“My sculptures are mere stepping-stones towards my search for a connection to truth.”

-Rob Stern

Rob’s new obsession with designer shoes was inspired by his wife’s vast collection which includes Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Alexander McQueen. However, Rob’s stilettos are even more extreme in glass with wild bejeweled designs to make even Lady Gaga swoon. His play on words and punning titles bring an entertaining new dimension to the designer shoe fetish. Step into WMODA soon to see Stern’s Stilettos.

“My works act as a communicative device which seeks to connect my thoughts and my actions to the collective human consciousness.”

-Rob Stern

You will also be amused by his wiener dog inspired by Jeff Koons’ balloon sculptures. Rob’s “hot dog” has become the museum’s new mascot and helps us explain the glassmaking process to kids. It is just like blowing up a balloon or a bubble of soapsuds although the shards are very sharp when the bubble bursts! Over 25 summers, Rob has had lots of fun blowing giant glass bubbles at Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State where he began as a student and became a master gaffer and teacher.

“Humanity is transcended as we reflect the rhythm and patterning in this natural world.”

-Rob Stern

Rob Stern has been exploring glass “beyond the bubble” at WMODA ever since we launched our Art on Fire exhibit in 2019. We were excited to discover that he was trained by the modern maestros of glass, including Dale Chihuly, Pino Signoretto, and Lino Tagliapietra. In fact, he was in Pino’s studio on the day that the three masters began collaborating on the Venetian Putti series. We invited Rob to talk about his relationship with his mentors at our spectacular Chihuly & Chocolate event in 2019 and began to showcase some of his work in our Hot Glass gallery.

“Glass and light go hand in hand, it’s a magical material.”

-Rob Stern

A new star was born at WMODA when we installed Rob’s Constellations of Windstars which are dedicated to his father, a consummate stargazer fascinated with the cosmic phenomenon. Rob has been involved in our museum events and exhibits celebrating art and nature, including Out of this World and Earth · Air · Fire · Water where he presented his leaves of glass, bamboo forest, and giant shells.  At one of these events, Arthur Wiener, the founder of WMODA, became enamored with Rob’s work. He acquired many of his favorite pieces for the museum’s permanent collection, including the conceptual Memory Loss symbolizing dementia.

"When I started working with glass, I began to look at the world in a different way."

-Rob Stern

Rob was born in Miami and grew up in Atlanta where he trained initially for a career in the performing arts and toured as a singer, dancer, and actor. It was during his art studies at San Francisco State University that he discovered glassmaking. After a five-year apprenticeship at an industrial glass casting facility in Oakland, CA, he toured glass factories in Europe before coming under the spell of Dale Chihuly, Pino Signoretto, and Lino Tagliapietra. Rob has also been influenced by the Bohemian glass-making tradition. He was a teaching assistant to Petr Novotny, also a Chihuly collaborator, and worked for several years at the Ajeto glassworks in the Czech Republic.

“Harmonic instances between what I sense and do are the signals which guide me through the process and prompt creative decisions.”

-Rob Stern

Rob returned to Miami in 1997 to complete his MFA at the University of Miami and he helped develop and run their glass sculpture program for many years. In 2000, he set up his own studio in Wynwood, Rob Stern Art Glass, where he works with his team making signature works, site-specific installations, and lighting designs. Rob exhibits his work widely and has been invited to give demonstrations and workshops at famous glass institutions around the country as well as international symposiums. For the Glass Art Society conference in Murano, Rob created a mirrored top hat and illuminated suit in honor of his mentor Pino Signoretto.

“My aesthetic resides at the crossroads where humans and nature intersect. Between organic and angular, a space, which connects the temporary man-made to the pre-existing and eternal cosmos”

-Rob Stern

Rob’s work is sold through the Studio Collection at the WMODA shop. You can also commission custom designs through the museum, including wall art, lighting installations, and garden sculptures. Watch Rob at work in the new Blown Away Netflix series which starts on July 22.

Read more about Rob Stern...

Rob Stern - Leaves of Glass
Rob Stern - Start Is Born
Rob Stern - Art on Fire the Chihuly Connection
Rob Stern - Star of Wonder
Rob Stern - Constellations Exhibit
Rob Stern - Stilettos Exhibition
Rob Stern - Strut into WMODA
Rob Stern - Our New Hot Dog
Rob Stern - Stilettos
Rob Stern - Believe the Impossible
Rob Stern - Resonance Wmoda