The transparency and the primordial nature of glass caught James’ attention from an early age. It wasn’t until he was 22 that he had an opportunity to work with glass. In 1999 James began a part-time glass apprenticeship in Boulder, CO. Six months after starting his apprenticeship, he quit his day job and made a full-time commitment to glass.
During his early years, he studied with Joe Cariati, Boyd Sugiki, Karen Willenbrink-Johnson, and Cesare Toffolo. He attended the Penland School of Crafts, Pilchuck, and the Pittsburgh Glass Center. His desire to learn brought him to the California College of Arts where he graduated in 2007 with, BFA. After college, he settled in San Francisco, CA where he has developed a line of work including bowls, vases, sculpture, and lighting design. When Friedberg makes glass, he combines the ancient practice of glass blowing with modern design and sculptural principles.
He has worked alongside various artists and designers creating custom work and assisting in the creation and installation of their pieces. When James is not making glass he is focused on community engagement through art education. He helps to facilitate and teach a youth art education program (Light a Spark) and an adult continuing education glass blowing program (Intermediate Skills Workshop) at Public Glass.
Sculpture: My artwork is very personal, but without reflecting with other people, I would lack the voice necessary to share my work. The interplay of our everyday relationships is what inspires me to teach, make, and live. Light, reflections, and homologous forces define my work. By using multiples in the sculptures, I am highlighting these relationships. Glass allows the distortion and reflection of light in such a way that it highlights relationships between seemingly disparate, yet completely connected objects. Clear glass is often highlighted in my work and displays the necessity of all the different parts layered, supported, and contrasted; thus, showing the commonality between them.
Vortex Vessels: James is a perfectionist, but he does not have a rigid approach. While working creatively with glass, he maintains a dialog with the material. When working on a new piece, he allows the process to affect the finished piece: what he learns while working influences the final form and pattern. James’ linework explores inspiration gained from scientific models to highlight the complexity and beauty of natural phenomena and the models used to express these events.
Mokume Vessels: Mokume Gane is a technique of Japanese origin in which layers of alternating colors of precious metals are fused, forged, and patterned to create swirling images of color in a sheet of metal. The first recorded use of mokume gane was by Denbei Shoami (1651-1728) who lived and worked in Japan. When this metalworking technique is combined with glass wood grain patterns are achieved but other patterns emerge that are wholly new. James has translated Mokume Gane into the glass to create beautiful vessels.