Bullseye Projects presents a group exhibition exploring themes of personal, natural, and metaphysical change. Transformations will be on view June 21 – September 30, 2017 and will open in conjunction with BECon 2017, Bullseye Glass Company’s biennial conference. Transformations features the work of artists Ligia Bouton, Kate Clements, Emily Counts, Emily Nachison, and Judy Tuwaletstiwa
Mysterious in its creation, common in its application, and utopian in visions of the future, glass is rife with cultural, scientific, and metaphysical meaning. The glass we encounter is largely comprised of sand, soda ash, lime, and metallic oxides. These minerals are combined, melted and then cooled into a myriad of forms. The recipe is millennia old, but retains much of the magic that likely accompanied its first discovery. Sand is transformed into glass; it is a transformation that borders on the alchemical. A common material is made into something new with unique qualities that require a new category of matter: amorphous solid. Artists Ligia Bouton (New Mexico), Kate Clements (Pennsylvania), Emily Counts (Washington), Emily Nachison (Oregon), and Judy Tuwaletstiwa (New Mexico), approach glass from diverse perspectives, but it is transformation – be it through meditations on mortality, adolescence, fantasty, or the spiritual - that draws them to this material and connects their work.
Ligia Bouton’s Table Conversation (2016) is an excerpt from a larger installation entitled The Cage Went in Search of a Bird, which imagined a discussion between Franz Kafka and Emily Bronte, both of whom were diagnosed with turburculosis. A blown glass belljar, containing a cast glass face, is connected via rubber and glass tubing to a mask – mouth to mouth – in a form of reciprocal respiration. Bouton says that the works “…explore how the body reflects the climate of the soul or indeed how the soul might communicate with a body under siege.” Kate Clements similarly addresses bodily death. Kate Clements’ Beloved (2016) is comprised of a glass vivarium on painted legs holds discarded floral arrangements from funeral services. The decay of the cut bloom, a frequent symbol in Dutch “vanitas” paintings from the 18th century, is a dissolution mimicking the inevitable transformation of our own bodies.
In their recent work, Emily Counts and Emily Nachison are both exploring the idea of hidden stories, which are manifest through references to mythology, fantasy, the body, and occult symbolism. In Emily Counts’ Future Connect and Bind (2016), a bronze mound, embossed with inscrutable symbols, is connected via a jagged and irregular chain to a flesh-colored, dripping cone made of cast glass. To Counts, each material and individual element is a “marker of time” and an “aesthetic impulse.” Strung together they form a narrative that reflects her interest in “…connectivity and fluidity in biology, technology, and sexuality.” Similarly, Emily Nachison combines a variety of materials, drawing on their cultural and historic associations, in sculptures that touch on our desire to mythologize the world. In this new body of work, Nachison refers to adolescence, sexuality, and fantasy. Tween Dream (2017), a cast glass pony head, emblazoned with glass earrings common to 90’s mall piercing kiosks, speaks to desire and disappointment. Its companion piece Pony Girl (2017), a hanging sculpture of leather, thick rope, and cast glass, references a bridle while silmultaneously recalling bondage accoutrements. Together they mark a threshold between youth and adult fantasy.
In 2012, Judy Tuwaletstiwa began a residency at the Bullseye Glass Resource Center in Santa Fe. This was the beginning of a months long journey, mixing fine glass powders to create subtle color variations. These colors, lightly tack-fused into amorphous wafers, have become both paint and brushstroke in Tuwaletstiwa’s large abstract composition. glass.song 2 (ruah.old) (2016) is made of small black, red, and orange wafers attached in visually udulating groupings on a field of black stained stretched canvas, recalling reptile scales, stone, or smouldering embers. These associations play out throughout her works, which often refer back to the written word. In her 2016 book, Glass, Tuwaletstiwa explains that the body of work entitled ruah – Hebrew for wind, breath, spirit – are in reference to the 1989 Edmond Jabès book Das Buch der Fragen. “In [the book], Jabès questions God and man, seeking language to express the unspeakable in the face of the Holocaust.” The works are “…responses, not answers, to the silent question that Das Buch der Fragen asks.”
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