Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges (people cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through); nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right.” But a different, sometimes lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle. And we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.
— Victoria Stafford

I have never been far from the roar of a furnace growing up with two parents running a glass business. My sense of making comes from my family, from my mentors, and from the integrity of material. Craft has been in my family’s blood going back to my great grandfather who was a fresco painter. My father Jack Schmidt is a sculptor who helped pioneer the use of glass as an artistic medium in the mid 1960s. My mother Shawn Messenger is a glass artist who has owned and operated a glass studio in Toledo, Ohio sense 1985. I grew up with a family that made things and fixed things, below is a series of photographs showing my family history with glass.