It [the Tropocene] is quite a departure for someone like myself who strictly regards herself as a craftsperson/ artisan/glass artist. The glass comes first. All the other notions and inferences come out of the glass. Which is diametrically opposed, as I imperfectly understand it, to conceptualism. For me the ideas come out of the material, not the other way around. I am not opposed to conceptual art, I simply feel far removed and indifferent to it.
These pieces (most of them) are very difficult to execute and, although the shapes do come from somewhere and each has certain intellectual and (especially) emotional associations for me, they are exciting for me because they are difficult to execute.
- from a letter to Virginia Eichhorn discussing the Tropocene show, 2004
To get an idea of why Ione does not consider herself a conceptual artist we should ask the question, What happens after the conceptual artist has the concept? With the understand- ing that we are making crude generalizations only for the sake of agument, we might say that, for a conceptual artist (with the possible exception of the perfomance artist), the act of creation is the concept itself. Everything that follows must be anticlimax, or worse - tedium. For the conceptual artist, the shining moment comes first; the rest, the execution, is drudgery that may or may not require the hand of the artist herself. There may be perhaps a vicarious shining moment when the artist witnesses a look of recognition on the face of the viewer.
For the artisan/object-maker, things do not start with a concept. Strictly speaking, an overarching concept is not requisite for the object- maker/artisan; but where this is the case, the artisan has probably already made a piece or pieces before it materializes. She already has her hands dirty, she is up to her neck in plaster and wax. When the concept arrises it simply propels her forward and directs her activities to some larger point beyond, opening up new avenues on the road she has already taken. It might suggest additional variations or how it might all be presented. The actual making is joy, fulfilling, she is working more intensely, at the peek of her capacity. The danger for the artisan lies in not stopping at the right place. In other words, the artisan gets an extended never-ending shining moment in the execution, in working with the materials, with the added shining moment at the end if the work is good.