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An Interview with John T. Unger – The Power of Fire and Strength of Steel

  • Broadcast in Art
Help 2 Succeed

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Find out what it takes to be a full-time artist, run a business and organize your time.

"I make sculpture from scrap industrial steel, cutting by hand with a plasma torch at 45,000° Farenheit. That’s 4.5 times as hot as the surface of the Sun or the Earth’s core.

My Sculptural Firebowls are intended to have an immediate visual appeal as well as providing a story, meaning, and social interaction. They offer an opportunity to gaze into the fire and connect with the human questions that have enticed every imagination since we first gathered around a captive flame over a million years ago."

John T. Unger is a sculptor and mosaic artist in Hudson, NY. Best known for his Sculptural Firebowls, Unger was the first to cut propane tanks into decorative fire features.

To make art that will last, he looks to the past for examples that still delight after millennia— believing the simplest forms are most likely to remain relevant. Natural history, music, literature and ancient art are his strongest inspirations.

From performing his poetry on stage at Lollapalooza in 1996, to bartering a mosaic to a bank as a down payment for a house and studio, to displaying an American flag created from over 20,000 Budweiser bottle caps at the 2015 Stagecoach Music Festival, Unger’s art practice has been as much about making good stories as making good art.

"I created the first Great Bowl O’ Fire on May 30, 2005. I had no idea at the time that it would become the work I was most known for. In the twelve years since I created the first Great Bowl O’ Fire, my art has set the world aflame— I’ve shipped over 2000 Sculptural Firebowls to all 50 states and over 20 countries."  John T Unger

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