First Friday Santa Cruz



Chris Mosley

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I was born in 1984 in Rochester, upstate NY. Always a creative kid, I got lost doodling in school, and somehow knew, ever since I was 12 years old, that creating was going to be an important part of my life.

The first step on this path was attending college at the Art Institute of Atlanta for Graphic Design at 18. After graduating with an Associates Degree in Graphic Design in 2005, I explored my voice and different mediums as an artist over the next 5 years, while working all different types of jobs to pay the bills. In 2011, I got a job in an art community called the Goat Farm, making designer books for furniture show rooms. This was the first time I had the opportunity to work surrounded by accomplished artists, and it gave me a window into many examples of what success as an artist could look like. I knew I hadn't found my medium yet, and needed to keep trying things, so I reached out to a glassblower in the 4th Ward in Atlanta and asked for an apprenticeship. That moment changed my life forever. I became hooked on glassblowing and realized I had found the medium I wanted to grow and create in for the rest of my life.

This certainty sparked a laser focus that consumed me for the next seven years. I had to learn everything about this material and become masterful at my craft.

In 2013 I began studies in the Scientific Glass and Glass Art Program at Salem Community College.

The next summer in 2014 I interned at the prestigious Corning Museum of Glass, where I gave talks about Fiber Optics and Glass Stress, as well as Flameworking demonstrations 11 times per day.

In the summer of 2015 I got to take my work deeper by traveling all over the East Coast and blowing glass with different artists.

I then took a risk, packing up everything I had and moving across the country to LA with my girlfriend at the time, to take a position at Phillips Lighting, making projector bulbs.

After a few years I hit a tough moment in my glass work, clarifying my voice as an artist, when my girlfriend walked out on me suddenly, and I was left alone in Los Angeles. Though it was a difficult moment, it gave me the priceless gift of having no distractions and being able to focus entirely on my passion and ambition. This ended up being an incredible time for me, in which I put everything into chasing my dreams.

Hustling as a black artist was not easy- I worked for other artist studios while continuing to grow my own art and trying to keep the lights on.

Finally the universe gave me a gift. I got an email from a hiring director about a glass position in Orange County making measuring devices. After the interview I realized I was over qualified for the job, and more importantly, that I had been selling myself way too short and putting myself out there for way less than I was worth. With new confidence in my value, skill and knowledge, I started applying for high-paying glass jobs. Within a week I applied for a position at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in Silicon Valley, a company with a deep history of invention and innovation. I got a phone interview, and a week later flew up to the Bay Area for an in-person interview. I had a strong feeling it was meant to be. I believed in myself and I got the job.

This work was an incredible synergy of all the things I had learned and cultivated over the last decade of my life. I got to research and develop cutting edge glass technologies for completely innovative applications.

After working in the tech world for a few years however, no longer a starving artist, but a glass specialist with an office, paid vacation and plenty of perks, I became more and more aware that something important was missing. Where were the black people in the tech world? I was one black person out of 250 people in an innovative legacy tech company. I saw that there was a very small percentage of black folks working in hardware and high technology, and particularly in aero space, defense and government contracts, all well-paying jobs with great benefits and stability.

This inequity became more of a focus for me, and I came to see more clearly the built-in systems that prevent so many black people from gaining access to these types of skills and jobs. It became clearer to me because I have been inside the system, I have unique knowledge and understanding that I want to make more accessible to people like me.

I have come to believe that if people of color are going to be a powerful part of society 100 years from now, we are going to have to push ourselves and our community to new heights and explore new industries that create global impact and transform infrastructure. And I want to be part of that change.

So I left my comfy six-figure job to explore entrepreneurship and master my passion for glass, by innovating glass technology and disrupting industries on my own terms.

My dream is to grow an enterprise company that hires people of color for skilled and well paid positions and mentors them to be able to excel in the world of high technology.

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