Michael and Frances Higgins
Clock, 1965 – 1999
Glass and metal
9 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Craig B. Johnson
Photography: Jarvis Lawson

Collection Focus: Frances and Michael Higgins

January 31 – October 12, 2024
at Racine Art Museum

In the late 1940s, contemporary glass production was given new energy as Frances (1912 – 2004) and Michael (1908 – 1999) Higgins reinvigorated the ancient practice of glass fusing. Capitalizing on the post-World War II interest in bright colors and abstract patterns, the Higginses produced mostly functional items sold through major retailers and worked with glass companies until they formally established their private studio in Illinois. Frances and Michael’s partnership—both personal and professional—seemed to fuel their creative energy, and they devoted their lives to creating a seemingly endless array of plates, bowls, dishes, vases, and more.

Racine Art Museum recently established an archive collection of 75 works created collaboratively and individually by the Higginses. For example, in addition to production glassware, there is a large, multi-faceted frieze of trees, buildings, and butterflies attributed to Frances and a “treasure chest” of glass, wood, and fiber assigned to Michael. This volume of work—a large portion of which debuts in this exhibition—offers a chance to look at modernist glass through the works themselves and through the lens of a creative partnership with nuanced gives and takes.

Higgins Glass Studio—initially established in the Higginses’ apartment—still exists in Riverside, Illinois. As per the wishes of the Higginses themselves, the studio is now owned and operated by Louise and Jonathan Wimmer, a mother and son who studied with the couple.

Even if glassware from the Higginses is familiar, their involvement with the twentieth-century conversations that changed studio glass is not as well-known. The study guide that accompanies this compelling exhibition offers the chance to illuminate dynamic aspects of their story—linking threads of many conversations including the landscape of modern craft, the role of function and form, the balance of creativity, innovation, and collaboration, and aspects of entrepreneurship, process and production, consumerism, and interior design.

Significantly, this is the first exhibition in RAM’s Collection Focus series to focus on artists primarily working with glass.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Press Room

Collection Focus: Frances and Michael Higgins

January 31 – October 12, 2024
at Racine Art Museum
Michael and Frances Higgins
Clock, 1965 – 1999
Glass and metal
9 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Craig B. Johnson
Photography: Jarvis Lawson

In the late 1940s, contemporary glass production was given new energy as Frances (1912 – 2004) and Michael (1908 – 1999) Higgins reinvigorated the ancient practice of glass fusing. Capitalizing on the post-World War II interest in bright colors and abstract patterns, the Higginses produced mostly functional items sold through major retailers and worked with glass companies until they formally established their private studio in Illinois. Frances and Michael’s partnership—both personal and professional—seemed to fuel their creative energy, and they devoted their lives to creating a seemingly endless array of plates, bowls, dishes, vases, and more.

Racine Art Museum recently established an archive collection of 75 works created collaboratively and individually by the Higginses. For example, in addition to production glassware, there is a large, multi-faceted frieze of trees, buildings, and butterflies attributed to Frances and a “treasure chest” of glass, wood, and fiber assigned to Michael. This volume of work—a large portion of which debuts in this exhibition—offers a chance to look at modernist glass through the works themselves and through the lens of a creative partnership with nuanced gives and takes.

Higgins Glass Studio—initially established in the Higginses’ apartment—still exists in Riverside, Illinois. As per the wishes of the Higginses themselves, the studio is now owned and operated by Louise and Jonathan Wimmer, a mother and son who studied with the couple.

Even if glassware from the Higginses is familiar, their involvement with the twentieth-century conversations that changed studio glass is not as well-known. The study guide that accompanies this compelling exhibition offers the chance to illuminate dynamic aspects of their story—linking threads of many conversations including the landscape of modern craft, the role of function and form, the balance of creativity, innovation, and collaboration, and aspects of entrepreneurship, process and production, consumerism, and interior design.

Significantly, this is the first exhibition in RAM’s Collection Focus series to focus on artists primarily working with glass.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Press Room

Sample of Work in the Exhibition

Click/tap an image for more information

Exhibitions at RAM are made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

The Estate of Karen Johnson Boyd
David Charak
Judith and David Flegel Fund
Ron and Judith Isaacs
Nicholas and Nancy Kurten
Racine Community Foundation logo
Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors

City of Racine’s Grow Racine Grant
Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation
Ruth Arts Foundation

Gold Sponsors

Anonymous
Tom and Irene Creecy
Richard and Patricia Ehlert
Trio Foundation of St. Louis
W.T. Walker Group, Inc.
Wisconsin Arts Board

Silver Sponsors

Anonymous
Baird
Beta Diagnostic Labs
A.C. Buhler Family
Lucy G. Feller
Ben and Dawn Flegel
Jim Harris
Sharon and Tom Harty
Horizon Retail Construction, Inc.
Lise Iwon
J. Jeffers & Co.
Johnson Financial Group
Dorothy MacVicar
Jan Serr and John Shannon

Bronze Sponsors

Ellen and Joseph Albrecht
Andis Foundation
Susan Boland
Virginia Buhler
Dave’s Wine Garage
Educators Credit Union
Express Employment Professionals
Bill and Debbie Keland
Susan Manalli
Jean and Alex Mandli, Jr.
The Prairie School
Cathy Stanghellin
Twin Disc, Inc.

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