Joshua Tracy's vivid interpretation of a rockfish in glass. Photo courtesy of the artist.

MD Artist Recreates Bay Sportfish in Glass Sculptures, on Display This Weekend

When you wrestle a fish to the surface with a hook and reel, with sharp fins and smooth scales
shimmering under the sun, you literally hold its life in your hands. For a heartbeat in time, you and the
fish are bound together.

It is that heartbeat in time that skilled Maryland artist Joshua Tracy seeks to capture in glass sculptures
of fish, both the big striped bass pulled from the Bay and the beautiful brook trout from the Gunpowder
River, a Bay tributary and famed fly fishing destination in northern Baltimore County.

Josh Tracy, a lifelong local fisherman, knows firsthand the wonder of catching a creature that inhales
water, a thing that understands rain and ripples, a being that looks up to the same surface through
which he peers down. As an angler must wrestle with rod and reel and tackle, Josh wrestles with fire and
heat, color, air, and gravity, striving to capture in glass that indescribable moment every angler knows.

A close-up of the glass details in Tracy’s rainbow trout. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Manor Mill Gallery, a restored 1700s grist mill close to the Gunpowder River, will host Counter Currents:
The Fish Show beginning this weekend. It features Josh’s sculptures including rockfish, trout, tarpon,
swordfish and other sportfish for a month-long event.

It will prove to be a unique show: Josh is one of only a handful of artists who combines years of
experience at glass blowing and glass sculpture with catching fish and observing them.

“I’ve been fly fishing in the Gunpowder River since my 20s. Earlier, even, just a little kid putting hooks on
worms. There is a love affair with those creatures that drives me to spend 40 hours on each one of the
sculptures.”

The works are vivid, and Josh explains, “You’re so exhilarated when you have that fish in your hands.
The sun is glistening off the scales, making the colors almost surreal. They seem otherworldly: electric
blue, dazzling green, glowing orange. You see them far more vibrantly than in life—almost like someone
on an acid trip—so I make them the same way an angler sees them in that instant.”

Josh, who also does commissions for charter and private fishing excursions, practices catch-and-release
fishing. “For me, it’s about the connection with the fish, not ownership of it. I sometimes take
photographs for reference, but mostly”—he taps his temple— “it’s all up here.”

Josh’s sculptures bring you straight to the instant of connection with a living fish. He smiles. “They’re like
time capsules that I’ve made out of glass.”

Joshua Tracy’s work will be at Manor Mill Gallery Sept. 2-Oct. 1, 2023. The opening reception is
Saturday, Sept. 9, 4-8 pm. At the Mill you’ll find not only art shows but local crafts, music events, yoga,
and one-day craft classes like woodworking and welding.

-Katie Aiken Ritter