Dustin is a world-renowned artist known for his intensely intricate, multi-layered glass sculptures and 3D collages. We caught up with Dustin and he graciously showed us around his buzzing studio (he employs 14 full-time art assistants that are an essential part of what he does), as well as the non-profit he founded, Pioneer Works, which is adjacent to his own space. 

1. How is Pioneer Works different from other communal art spaces that exist? 

The traditional art space has undergone significant change over the last 50 years. Certain distinctions, like the distinction between the private and the public, have evaporated. Even the categories of the basic states of matter have changed to include more complex iterations of life as we know it, electron degenerate matter. String net liquid, and so on. 


2. How does the social aspect of Pioneer Works influence your work/thoughts?

In so many ways—it’s hard to say. You walk into the building. There’s an eyeball trained on the smallest possible particle. There’s someone painting. There’s someone mapping out flight trajectories. There’s a poem being written.

The influence really is in the making.

So much is always being built.

It makes anyone who comes in feel like man, I should be doing something.

Then you find paper, get some crayons, and start going to work.

3. What does the process as well as the finished product of the Psychogeographies mean to you?

The process of the work is everything, which I think is why I’ve chosen the title. 

Creating these works, smallest particle and image by image, layer by layer, is a more linear representation of the way de Bord figured the mind as mapping its environment and vice versa.

The process is the mapping. I think of these as large microscopic slides, moving and dynamic real time maps that have been momentarily suspended.

4. Your work is super labor intensive, how does your team help make your vision come to life? 

The staff is involved from the moment of production to the very end.

Just sheer scale of the work demands involvement from many people.

But it’s always people. The more people the better. You have an idea. You share it. You hear what people have to say. You adopt. Adapt. You listen and receive. It’s the messaging system. The inbox is always flooded.  

5. Some of your smaller glass pieces are the Caves. You described them to us as these “Post-its that have all kinds of stuff crammed on them,” what do they represent? 

The caves are these occult places, these recesses these access spots to deeper sub connections, the subterranean, the primordial beginnings of knowledge.


6. You used to work with resin and after a series of accidents/health concerns you transitioned to glass, aside from the health benefits, how has working with glass allowed for your work to evolve?

The switch allowed for greater control over the process. With resin, if I poured a layer, that was it. With glass, I’m able to move between layers, to shuffle them around, to build more complicated fields of depth. It was the material move that allowed for the increased complexity and scale of the work. 

7. Pioneer Works has developed rapidly in the short time it has been open as a collective space for artists, what is on the horizon?

The moon is on the horizon. Boats and large birds of prey swooping down to catch small purse dogs named Mimi and Socrates. We’re going to advance stem cell research at Pioneer Works. We’re going to show amazing work. We’re building a music studio. The third issue of our magazine just came out. We’re going to start publishing more books of poetry.

8. Can you talk to us about your new paintings on wood? 

The paintings are brush free, self-freeing therapeutic bursts. With the other work being so deliberate, detailed, and painstaking, I needed to create something that felt more gestural, spontaneous, freeing. I refer to them internally as squirt paintings. I say to my staff Ok, I’m going to go squirt. Like a squid, who retreats into his hiding spot, and releases his ink sack. The squid has three hearts. These squirts are a second or third heart in this greater organism.

9. What inspires you?

The ocean. Phong. Crab tracings on the beach. The banana. The mountains. Facial hair. Razors. Joseph Beuys. 

Follow Dustin on Instagram.

Visit Dustin’s website.

Visit the Pioneer Works website.