Paul Glenn was born and raised in northern New Jersey. Throughout childhood, Judaism was an important part of his daily life. In his early twenties, he embraced being an openly gay man, which came into direct conflict with his family, community and religion. He had to build a new model of religion, faith and prayer that wasn’t contrary to his spiritual beliefs.
As a gay man, he accepts he is of God and does not want to be regarded by others as God’s reject. He is motivated to create work, which reminds the world that gay people enjoy and thrive as practitioners of a spiritual faith.
This motivation has led him to reflect upon many other faiths for guidance. Paul’s inspiration is drawn from images ranging from Giotto’s painted cathedrals, to Islamic mosque tiles, Buddhist sculptures, Balinese textiles, Hebrew texts, Christian mausoleums and ancient Indian textiles and ceramics. His influences are from artists like Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, Josef and Anni Albers, and Ad Reinhardt.
He received his BA with honors from Brandeis University in 1989 and his MFA with honors from Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. His RISD thesis, entitled Graduate Thesis Exhibition 1994, was pivotal in his artistic journey to reconcile his own religious faith. In this thesis, his series of scroll works explored notions of spirituality through the Jewish Torah teachings.
Paul developed a ritualistic behavior in his studio during his time at RISD that carries into his current work. Making objects brought a destination and context to his art making that tied together his beliefs and practice. Beginning with his very first body of work inspired by Giotto, Christianity and religious rituals, Paul has uncovered a life-long process of merging ritual observation with mark making. His studio practice is executed with strategic mathematical precision that allows a truly submissive response to the moment. His process explores the concepts of structure driving accessibility to a spiritual or meditative experience.