"EMERGE / EVOLVE at Bellevue Arts Museum" (NEUES GLAS/NEW GLASS)

By Michael Endo

Emerge/Evolve 2016 culminates its year-long tour of the United States at the Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) in Washington State. The exhibition is comprised of award-winning and honorably-mentioned works from Bullseye Glass Company’s ninth Emerge competition. Combined with the award-winning works are pieces from Evolve 2016, an exhibition highlighting the work of three former Emerge finalists. Both exhibitions, Emerge 2016 and Evolve 2016, were originally mounted in their entirety at Bullseye Projects in Portland, Oregon and toured to the Bullseye Resource Center in Emeryville, California and the Pittsburgh Glass Center in Pennsylvania before opening at BAM.


Over the last fourteen years, Bullseye Glass Company’s juried competition, known as Emerge, has transformed from a regional display into a touring exhibition of works by artists from around the world. The competition was initially conceived to highlight the work being made in the relatively nascent medium of kiln-glass. Since then, the landscape of the medium has matured. Attracted by the medium’s ability to transform through heat, the myriad forms it may take, its tactile qualities and vibrant colors, artists—emerging, established, or otherwise—are generating a vital discourse that is reflected in museums, universities, and art institutions both nationally and internationally. Now in its ninth iteration, Emerge has become one of the foremost competitions to see rising talents and new voices in the world of kiln-glass. 


Emerge 2016 was juried by Stefano Catalani, Executive Director of the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Washington; Kim Harty, Assistant Professor and Section Head of Glass at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan; and Sue Taylor, Professor of Art History in the School of Art + Design, and Dean in the College of the Arts at Portland State University. The jurors reviewed over 370 entries and selected 42 finalists from 16 countries. From these finalists, seven award winners and three honorable mentions were chosen based on their craftsmanship, design, and creativity.


Three of the awards fall into the general category, three to current students, and one to an artist who has recently “crossed over” from another medium. Helen Lee’s KowTow was awarded Gold in the general category. “The piece is comprehensive in considering materiality, concept, and a reference to action...[we] were in consensus before we even spoke about it to each other,” said Kim Harty, in an interview following the jury process. The Silver award went to Marzena Krzemi ́nska-Baluch’s Landscape, and Bronze was given to Symphony of Blue, a series of pâte-de-verre vessel forms by Alison Lowry. In the Academic category, Kate ClementsStain was awarded Gold, Silver was presented to Jeffrey Stenbom for To Those Who Have, and Nick Doran Adams’ three pixel-inspired bowls took the Bronze award. Ashraf Hanna, a ceramist from Pembrokeshire, UK received the Crossover Award for his Amber Red Vessel Form, a piece that overlays rigid angles onto so curves reminiscent of a hand-thrown vessel.


The Evolve portion of the exhibition features work by three artists who were each selected as finalists in Emerge at least two times before progressing beyond the scope of the competition. Rei Chikaoka, an Emerge finalist in 2010 before winning an award in 2014, shifted from traditional glass-casting techniques to a unique form of casting that he continues to develop. The resulting sculptures, such as Updraft, are comprised of thin ribbons of glass that seem to impossibly intertwine. Matthew Day Perez’s Meander 3 represents the maturation of his studio practice from the works that were selected by the Emerge jury in 2008 and 2010. Carmen Vetter, a finalist in both 2006 and 2008, has maintained a technical focus, mastering the fusing and re-fusing of glass powders onto sheet glass. Vetter’s ambitious piece, Portland, uses a map of Portland, Oregon as a starting point for the abstract application of glass powders. The low-fired glass powders create a granular surface of rich texture similar to topographic projections.


Emerge/Evolve 2016 at BAM is an enriched version of the exhibition, featuring works and installations created specifically for the museum. Jeffrey Stenbom’s Every Year consists of 7,300 military dog tags made of low-fired, white powdered glass. A recent study conducted by the United States Department of Veterans A airs found that every day twenty US veterans commit suicide. Every Year visualizes an entire year of lost lives. Ligia Bouton, Kate Clements, Ashraf Hanna, Helen Lee, and Matthew Day Perez also contributed or created new work for the BAM edition of the exhibition. 


The article originally appeared in issue No. 3 / 2017 issue of Neues Glas / New Glass.

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August 8, 2017