Dan Hofstetter profiles Bullseye artists in Full Transparency (Art & Antiques)

Carrie Iverson, Resonance, 2011
kilnformed and engraved glass, 10.25 x 20.75 x 2 inches (installed)
Photo: J. Sayer

(excerpt) Two very young artists sponsored by Bullseye are Carrie Iverson and April Surgent. Iverson studied creative writing at Yale and painting at the Chicago Art Institute; in Chicago she won created the Emmy-winning Façade Project, in which images of the faces of American casualties in the Iraq War were displayed to passers-by on the El. Concerned with means whereby her concerns with social and medical issues could be given visual, metaphorical form, Iverson, who in her earlier printmaking showed a notable gift for the monotype, has found a method of translating printmaking techniques into glass in the kiln.

April Surgent, who is only 28, studied glass-blowing in Detroit when she was 16; finding it too limited for her purposes, however, she left to get a degree at the University of Canberra, Australia, which has the best kiln-formed glass program in the world. Like a number of other contemporary glass artists, Surgent is fascinated by glass as a medium with a peculiar relation to memory. She uses the cameo-engraving technique to conjure images out of layers of fused and colored glass. Her pieces have a photographic look, but the photos she takes are used only as reference, and none of the layers is (sic) photo-sensitive. She takes her own photos, manipulates them a little, and once she has a final composition kiln-fuses three panels of Bullseye glass at the same size as the photo. “One is white-opal,” she says, “and one is pale, and the back one is dark. Then I take the photo and I copy it freehand on the top layer, or, if it’s really complicated, trace the main lines with carbon paper and then continue drawing freehand. Then I use an engraving lathe and I cut into the panel.” How deep she goes determines the value or tone she will get.

Surgent says that a “huge, huge influence” has been Jiri Harcuba, the eminent Czech glass engraver, who is now in his 80s, whom she’s worked with and later taught with and whom she regards as her mentor. Harcuba, as Surgent points out, was originally trained as a factory apprentice to “do the same conservative thing over and over” before discovering a gift for gestural, quasi-abstract work, and “though he never would think I’m a great engraver or anything,” she adds modestly, he liked it “that I was doing something new with engraving.” Surgent has also been influenced by unknown glass engravers whose work she has across, and by the WPA photography of the Depression years. (excerpt) - Dan Hofstetter

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November 8, 2011