These 7 Artists Are Testing the Limits of Glass-Making (Artsy)


 “Until recently, the scientific community couldn’t agree if glass was a liquid or a solid, which is rather insane,” Cybele Maylone tells me. “It speaks to the magical properties that make glass so enchanting to artists.”


Maylone is the executive director of UrbanGlass, which, since its founding in 1977, has grown from the back room of a ceramics studio in SoHo into the largest public glass studio in the United States. (Other institutions such as the Corning Museum of Glass and the Swedish Glass Museum have also flourished.)


The organization’s expansion speaks to the steadily growing popularity of the material among craftspeople and contemporary artists alike. There’s much more to contemporary glass beyond Dale Chihuly’s famous chandeliers with their Medusa-like curls. Lynda Benglis, Matthew Barney, and Robert Rauschenberg all created artwork at UrbanGlass, and more recently, interdisciplinary artists including Tauba Auerbach and Virginia Poundstone have participated in the organization’s studio residency.


Since stained glass windows appeared in the first cathedrals, glass has always inspired awe. “I’ve never had an artist walk into our studio and not had their jaw hit the floor when they understand what’s possible here,” Maylone says.

Glass may be an unforgiving medium, but it’s extremely versatile. It can be blown, cut, cast, flameworked, filled with neon gas, and illuminated. Artists’ approaches have become increasingly multifaceted—combining glass with video, exploring 3D printing and other emerging technologies, or using it as an element in performance or social practice. Even the process of glass-making has its own dramatic and performative potential. “A move towards performance has always bubbled under the surface,” Maylone says.


What follows is the work of seven artists, each exploring the myriad possibilities of glass—from casts of miniature cities to a functioning glass seismograph to durational performance—and challenging the material’s limits.




Norwood Viviano
B. 1972, Based in Plainwell, Michigan


Viviano’s latest body of work, which explores the relationship between manufacturing and population change, is inspired by his Michigan roots. Growing up in Detroit in the ’70s and ’80s, he saw firsthand how the loss of auto manufacturing devastated the area. Viviano’s “Mining Industries” is a series of cast glass blocks topped with 3D-printed models of cities such as Detroit, Houston, and Seattle, produced using LiDARar data (the laser surveying technology used to create high-resolution maps).


Although driven by research and data sets, the work’s intricacy and wealth of detail is enticing rather than intimidating. And while the artist uses industrial materials like steel, ceramic, and glass, the cumulative effect is one of delicacy. “The fragility of glass serves as a metaphor for balance between time, efficiency, and the inability of manufacturing to meet future needs,” Viviano says. A solo show of Viviano’s new work is planned to go up at the Heller Gallery, New York, in May 2018.


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August 15, 2017