Even from far away, Thaddeus Laugisch's glass art stops viewers in their tracks. With colorful layers and patterns that are borderline celestial, it's easy to get lost in his work.
"The fun part is the closer you get, the more intricate the flows of colors and patterns get," he said.
Laugisch, who made his public debut as an artist only six months ago, takes pride in his unique process he calls "glassology."
Glassology involves applying layers of paint to recycled panes of glass. Laugisch adds household chemicals to each layer and watches the chemical react to the paint, resulting in complex patterns. If the pattern pleases him, he dries the layer with a heat gun and continues the process until the pane is no longer transparent.
Laugisch opens his first-ever public exhibit called "Natürlich" at the Spirit Room Jan. 16.
The title means "Naturally" in German, a nod to both his heritage and artistic process.
"With nature and images of space as my initial inspiration, the pallet choice of each piece (in the exhibit) was spontaneously selected as I reacted to the outcomes of the previous layer," Laugisch said. "All similarities to nature are represented by the color, flow, complex detail and rhythmic patterns that you see at a micro level, like that of a leaf or even skin."
"Natürlich" displays 11 of Laugisch's recent works in a variety of colors and sizes, with the largest piece measuring nearly seven feet long.
Like the title of the exhibit, the title of each piece is in German (although English translations are provided).
As a first-generation American, he wanted to use his first public exhibit to commemorate his German roots.
Because he doesn't speak the language, family members helped him with title translations. He hopes to sell enough art in coming months to join his grandmother on her last trip to Germany for an 80 th school reunion in the spring.
By day, Laugisch works full-time as a drafter/designer and safety director of a local construction company, a high-pressure job that requires accuracy and attention to detail.
His art, which he calls his "therapy," allows him to relax and let the paint and chemicals do much of the work.
Laugisch first began experimenting with glassology when he worked for a glass-glazing company. If any glass was destined for the dumpster, he took it home and experimented with paint and chemicals on the glass surface.
Now that he's been doing glassology for nearly a decade, he has mastered the ability to manipulate the paint and achieve his desired effects - to an extent.
"Ultimately you have to let gravity 'do its thing,'" he said.
With the exception of his coasters, all the glass Laugisch uses to this day is recycled or repurposed.
Mistakes do occur, but he's learned to embrace the "happy accidents." If he's truly unhappy with a piece, the glass surface allows him to wipe it clean with ease and try again.
Like many artists in the area, promoting his art has been a challenge, but not because of the art itself.
"I'm kind of introverted," Laugisch said. "The hardest thing for me was writing an artist bio and artist statement (for my exhibit)."
But he's making progress as an artist. In the last six months, he has joined the Fargo-Moorhead Visual Artists (FMVA), had several pieces commissioned and sold artwork in Alexandria and Elk River, Minnesota.
Now, he's crossing off an item on his bucket list with his "Natürlich" exhibit at the Spirit Room.
Because of the calming quality of his work, he envisions his art hanging in waiting rooms and business offices in the future, but at this time he's content debuting his art to the world.
"I do not want to force perception on the viewer and welcome them to express what they see in each piece," he said.
If You Go
What: "Natürlich" Exhibit
When: Jan. 16 - March 4, 2017. The opening reception is 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, with an artist talk at 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Spirit Room at 111 Broadway, Fargo
Cost: Free and open to the public. The Spirit Room is open 1 to 5 p.m. Monday - Saturday.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit theartspartnership.net.