Spring 2015, The Corning Museum of Glass, our neighboring institution, is celebrating the opening of a 100,000-square-foot contemporary art wing that includes a new 26,000-square-foot contemporary art gallery. As a small gesture to recognize this monumental project, The Rockwell Museum teamed up with contemporary glass specialists at the Traver Gallery in Seattle, WA to install this celebratory display. This expansion project marks a historic milestone in the institutional history of The Corning Museum of Glass and it is our honor to recognize this significant event.
With a shared passion for enhancing the arts and cultural offerings of our arts-focused town, The Rockwell Museum and The Corning Museum of Glass are proud to continue Corning’s storied history of glass + arts innovation through community collaboration.
This exhibition features four American glass artists on the cutting edge of society — they speak about what is going on in our world in a way that most of us are not able to, and they go places that are sometimes difficult to go. The Traver Gallery strives to go there with them—to allow them to lead all of us us to new and interesting territories.
Pictured: Ross Richmond, Gift, 2014. Blown and hot sculpted glass. Courtesy of Abmeyer + Wood Fine Art.
Glass is a medium that keeps me in the moment. Striving to bring a painterly quality to this dynamic medium, I layer color to add depth to the sculpture being made. The textures and patterns have the fluidity and gesture of brushwork and enrich the strong, solid, three-dimensional form.
Rendering these creatures in states of grace, repose, or movement, I hope to capture their inherent nature. My background as a painter and an understanding of anatomy form the basis from which I depart towards more impressionistic or contemplative expressions and vignettes. In this pursuit, inspiration comes from a wide variety of cultures, time periods, and artistic mediums. From the long and storied history of the horse and all it has signified throughout the ages, to medieval tapestries depicting the mysteries of the unicorn, to the miniature sculptural tradition of Japanese netsuke, I am continually finding new sources of subject matter that fuels my work.
There are many aspects I hope to convey regarding the place that these different species have occupied over time: as utilitarian beings; associated with magic, legend, divinity, mythology; and as symbols or icons of eras and cultures around the world. It is important that my work reflects not just my own insights or experiences, but that it can also inspire an emotional connection for the viewer.
My work explores the notion of play as an important component in creativity. It is also a dialogue with the challenging medium of blown glass. A recent series, called “Winkles”, are tall slender cones reminiscent of old Rip Van Winkle’s stocking cap. The stretched shape is a showcase for fancy plaid patterns made with Venetian cane techniques, which I have been refining since I began working in this style over ten years ago. The color combinations convey a spirit of fun, and reflect my enjoyment of visual complexity of glass. These ideas are also explored in my ongoing series of “Spinning Tops”, which are oversized, candy-colored versions of the traditional children’s toy. They are enhanced by the optics of transparent colors that capture and refract light.
I am influenced by the bright colors and inflated shapes found in comic books and toys, and by the playful spirit of the unconscious mind. While creating each piece, I try to balance the fluidity of hot glass with the sense of wonder and fun I felt the first time I gathered from the furnace. I believe play is essential not only for the artist but for everyone. When we daydream or play games, we return to our childlike state of mind, where we are free to explore and imagine. This simple joy is a counterweight to our busy lives, and is central to my artistic process.
My inspiration comes from the human figure, as I have always been drawn to its form and abilities. Before I began a career in glass, I had considered pursuing a career in the field of Medical Illustration, where I would have had the opportunity to study the figure inside and out. The figure has always played a major role in my work, and in this series I am moving away from replicating the anatomy of the figure as I had in past series, by breaking down the human body into its basic shape as if it were covered by cloth. This keeps the eye from focusing on the details of the anatomy and lets the viewer follow the sweeping gestural lines of the form. Using curves, bends and negative space to capture energy and a sense of motion to create visual tension and express movement in a still object, but also capturing a moment, a gesture, a quiet interaction between people or an individual and their thoughts. Communication is an important aspect of our existence, and has always been a main source of my inspiration, whether it be with oneself or between others.
The stillness and solitude of the forest is a basic necessity for me. Life’s seasons and cycles are played out with timeless patience. It’s one place where the beauty of change, both death and birth, is celebrated equally. I want to capture this essence in my work.
I gather inspiration from molten glass’s animated movement, evocative colors and intricate surfaces equal to the inspiration I harvest from the same essential qualities found in nature.
I strive to create from an instinctual understanding of both nature and glass and to illuminate the essence of each.
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