Started working in glass in 1980 at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA).
Hungarian-born artist Mari Chovan-Upton creates figurative and abstract sculptures in ceramic, stone, bronze and glass. She studied drawing and sculpture in Budapest, Hungary. painting in Florence, Italy and stone carving with Italian masters in Pietrasanta. She studied glass under Marvin Lipofsky at CCAC.
She was an artist in residence in kiln-cast glass at San Jose State University and taught kiln-cast glass at the Crucible for several years. Her work has been exhibited in the United States, Hungary and Italy.
In her glass works, whether figurative or abstract, she loves working with both natural and artificial light. In the inner life of a glass sculpture the reflected or captured light is constantly changing. She entices the viewers’ eyes to move beyond the surface, to enter the form, and discover the captured light inside. These unpredictable plays of inner light and shadow make the works seem naturally alive.
In her quest for this aliveness, her sculpture with artificial light (whether lit from below, or as plasma light inside) plays with how the light changes depending on both ambient lighting and viewer interaction.
Having intimately experienced the beauty of opaque colors in antique vases of Pate de Verre (“paste of glass”) back in Hungary, she has been using Pate de Verre for her figurative sculpture. This allows her to work in an opaque medium that brings in yet another element of light — translucent color.