Copper in the Arts

July 2009

Gregory Nangle: Outcast Studios

By Rebecca Troutman

Gregory Nangle Greg Nangle in his studio

Photograph by Paul David

"I knew I was an artist from the day I could speak," says Gregory Nangle, who fashioned his first sculpture at age two from the family clocks and radios. Quite simply, he says, "It's all I've ever wanted to do."

Greg grew up in Narberth, Pennsylvania and studied glass at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. He found his niche working in liquid metal at the University of Hartford Art School. Since then he has focused on pieces that marry the two materials. His mentors have been from Russia and Africa, with influences in surrealist sculpture.

In his childhood years, his parents encouraged his talent. But Greg often defied traditional classifications. School administrators shuttled him to classes for both the learning disabled and the extremely gifted children-not knowing to which he belonged. Though he had trouble absorbing information in the classroom, at only ten years old he was reading books such as James Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses.

Knowing he was different, Greg later realized that he is a self-taught person, or "auto-didactic." He reads constantly, and a lot of his artwork has been inspired by his curiosity about the world.

"I don't have any natural talent in art," Greg explains. "I have had to work twice as hard at something other people would take for granted, because of how my mind works."

Glass and Bronze Spray Cans Nangle's spray can sculptures, glass

Courtesy of Greg Nangle

Greg's recent work has been experiments in still life sculptures using bronze and glass. The overturned and misshapen pots often have glass components, which represent water. At once elegant and jarring, he uses realism as a starting point but finishes in a surreal place-where liquid is frozen in mid-pour by a soup ladle suspended in air with a mind of its own. He has also been making a series of spraypaint cans in bronze and glass, placing mixed media inside the glass cylinders. What he places in the cans reveals his ironic side and desire to think differently about products we use every day-a Philip K. Dick novel, bubble wrap and packing peanuts and even a paintbrush. He also adds charged gases to some of the spraypaint cans and exhibits them on hot plates, causing them to glow in various radioactive colors.

In addition to his own work, Greg is the owner of Outcast Studios, an art foundry and gallery in Fishtown-a newly gentrified neighborhood of Philadelphia. Fishtown earned its namesake from the working-class fishermen who sailed from nearby Port Richmond. Three generations of Greg's family, including his father, grew up only a few blocks away from where his studio now sits. On one particular visit to his cousins' as a child, he recalls walking by the old sandcasting foundry he now owns. "Looking inside [at the fire from the furnace], I was convinced it was Hell itself," he remembers.

Bronze Sculpture Bronze sculpture by Greg Nangle

Courtesy of Greg Nangle

Outcast Studios is a three-person operation dedicated to bronze casting and glass bending, founded in 2002. The 10,000 square foot art foundry attracts clients from many design groups and institutions, including individual artists. Among them are the National Constitution Center, the NYC Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Steve Tobin, Matthew Barney, Frank Lloyd Wright, and H.R. Geiger-a Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor best known for his set design in the film Alien.

Greg also recently founded a non-profit called the Philadelphia Industrial Preservation Experiment-or P.I.P.E.-which is the first glass blowing program for high school kids with special needs.

"I like to look backwards to look forward," Greg says, adding that he will continue to experiment. Given what he's already accomplished with a successful art foundry and non-profit organization, he had a very simple answer when asked what the future of Outcast Studios will bring: "We'll be here working."

Nangle has several upcoming exhibitions which feature his work in glass and bronze. On July 17-19, 2009, one of Nangle's recent pieces will be shown in the GlassWeekend'09 exhibition at the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center's Museum of American Glass in Millville, NJ. He currently is exhibiting his spraypaint cans with glass, bronze and mixed materials at Micada Gallery in San Francisco, CA. Photographs of his recent work can also be seen in an upcoming book titled 100 Artists Working in Glass, which will be published by Schiffer Books.


Artist, Gregory Nangle, demonstrating the art and craft of marrying copper and glass, in his art foundry, Outcast Studios.

Outcast Studios, Fishtown, PA, (267) 242-1332

Also in this Issue:


2022   |   2021   |   2020   |   2019   |   2018   |   2017   |   2016   |   2015   |   2014   |   2013   |   2012   |   2011   |   2010   |   2009   |   2008   |   2007

Contact the Editor: