A Day in the Life of Hamilton Glass.
by Tracee Carter
“God gives you gifts to survive by.” -Cynthia Vaughan
There is no typical day for an artist. The life of Maurice Hamilton Glass is no exception. From being outside painting on a wall, or staying in the studio working on canvases, to going to speak with and mentor children, filling out proposals, or out of town for a job, Glass’ career keeps him on his toes.
“It’s a balancing act. That’s the hardest part about what i do.”
But he’s not just juggling the demands of a career. He’s also a husband and father, who is constantly balancing work and family life, and makes a conscious effort to be present.
Growing up in Philadelphia, glass did not consider art for a career.
“I have the typical art story. I grew up drawing and always loved art, but I never really showed my work. It was for me. I loved doing art. It was therapeutic.”
His mother, Cynthia Vaughan, kept him busy in different art schools.
“I hated it because I didn’t like people telling me how to create.”
Despite his talent, Glass always thought he would work in the corporate world.
“I knew I was creative, but I never thought that I could have a career in art. So, I went into architecture.”
After high school, Glass left Philadelphia to attend Hampton University. He received a degree in Architecture in 2005.
Glass is married to Taekia Glass, 34, director of Art180. They have a 5-year-old daughter, Sanaa, and are expecting their second child in August.
In 2009, when the recession hit and Glass was in transition, his wife suggested and encouraged he do art while looking for a job. Opportunities gave him the strength to show his work.
“I did some controversial murals. And Richmond, at the time, wasn’t the place it is now. I’m from Philadelphia. It’s nothing for me to walk down the street and see a mural that sparks conversation. So, I did one, and the news about it kind of exploded and it was at that point that i realized, ‘Hey, I have a responsibility behind my art and people are actually looking at it.’ And that was the spark that said I enjoyed showing my work.”
But his mother always saw his gift and wasn’t surprised by his success.
“She knew. She always told me, ‘God gives you gift to survive by.’ She has been prepping my gift her whole life. “It was like she literally sat next to me and said, ‘I told ya so.’.”
Richmond was in a phase of making the arts district known. Glass worked full-time during the day, and spent his evenings painting murals in the city.
In 2012 Glass was able to do art full time.
Glass runs “Ham” like a business.
“Everything is strategic.”
He creates a demand by scarcely posting on social media. Judging from his instagram account, spectators would never know exactly how much work Glass has created, but in reality, Glass’
work spans from Richmond, to Washington D. C., to Philadelphia, to New York, to Texas and even California.
Glass attributes his success to his strategic business plan. Posting less and keeping the audiences guessing his next move and craving his work.
As for his art, Glass says the designs come to him organically. Sometimes, while washing the dishes.
“They’re design problems for me. That’s where my architecture comes in. It just hits me. Organic things that happen. Life is a big inspiration. I just work from there. And surround myself with artists that don’t work like I do. Keeps me thinking differently from how I usually do.”
Glass is also very active in the art community. He volunteers his time at Art 180 teaching and mentoring children.
“I don’t think I gain unless I give back.”
Glass has experienced tremendous success in Richmond. His art is displayed all over the city, and he has eight more murals lined up in the two months.
Although Richmond was not embracing street art when he first began his journey. He says he stayed for that exact reason. To stand out.
“You go to the place that doesn’t have it and you try to do that. I’m from Philadelphia, the mural capital of the United States, if not the world. Why would I go to Philadelphia? So I can paint someone else’s mural? Richmond was perfect, actually. Because it was kind of like an oxymoron. You have this top-tier art school, but from a citizen point of view, where is it?”
Richmond is also where his mother is from.
He feels it was predestined. “It was all set up. It just was the place that I was supposed to end up, doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
So, who is Hamilton? Glass embraced his middle name to honor his mother.
“She made me. She just knew what I was going to be. I embraced Hamilton. It’s part of my story. It’s who I am. It’s really a homage to my mother.”