Born in 1968 in Minnesota, James Mongrain was introduced to glass while enrolled at Moorhead State University, under the instruction of his brother Jeff Mongrain, an internationally-renowned artist. He later studied glassblowing at Massachusetts College of Art and Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, Tenn. At the onset of his career, Mongrain worked in hot shops around the country, including New York, Cincinnati, and New Orleans, where he focused his attention on becoming technically proficient in the Venetian tradition of goblet making. This aesthetic continues to interest Mongrain; he recently crafted a series of Veronese vases which takea traditional Italian form.
In 1993, Mongrain worked as a co-gaffer at Pilchuck Glass Schoore he met internationally-renowned glass artist and mentor Dale Chihuly. Two years later, Chihuly invited Mongrain to move to Seattle, Wash. to work for Chihuly, Inc. as a gaffer for the “Chihuly over Venice” installation. The project took him to glass factories in Ireland, Mexico, and France, and culminated with the installation of 14 chandeliers over the canals and piazza of Venice.
In 1997, Mongrain opened Mongrain Glass Studio in Seattle, which he continues to own and operate in Mukilteo, Wash. today.
In 1999, he was nominated for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and began the “Jerusalem Cylinders” with Chihuly; the pieces were part of the “In the Light of Jerusalem 2000” project. Mongrain was also a lead figure among a team of glassblowers working on Chihuly’s “Fiore Di Como” in the Belliago hotel, Las Vegas, and the “Bridge of Glass” in Tacoma, Wash.
Over the years, he collaborated with a number of contemporary artists including Jim Dine, Kiki Smith, Jeff Koons, Robert Wilson, and Walter Lieberman.
Mongrain’s work has been exhibited nation-wide in galleries including the American Craft Museum in New York City, William Traver, Foster White Gallery and Vetri in Seattle, Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco, Louisville Museum of Art in Kentucky, Marta Hewett in Cincinnati, and the Grohe Glass Gallery in Boston. He continues to work for Chihuly and other artists on special projects, but has focused his attention on designing and crafting Venetian goblets, Veronese vases, and a variety of custom work including sculptural chandeliers.
James Mongrain is represented by Sandra Ainsley Gallery, located in Toronto, the leading contemporary glass art gallery in Canada.