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Favorites from the Contemporary Glass Collection

Featured exhibition objects from Favorites from the Contemporary Glass Collection.

  • Artwork
    I use clothing as a metaphor for identity and human presence. Rendered in glass, clothing becomes a window to the interior, where only the impression of the physical body remains.
    —Karen LaMonte

    Karen LaMonte’s monumental sculptures in cast glass have received international attention. Her subject is the dress, which is always life-size, whether it is for an infant, a young girl, or a woman. She explores a variety of styles of clothing in her work, from stiff and frilly Victorian dresses to idealized classical drapery. Her fashion choices reflect changing notions of beauty, how women view themselves, and how they have been viewed by others.

    Casting glass on such a large scale is extremely difficult. LaMonte worked her way up from small-scale castings to medium-range pieces. Wanting to increase the scale of her sculptures but limited by the facilities in New York City, she turned to the only place capable of meeting her technical requirements: the Czech Republic.

    In recent years, LaMonte has worked in Železný Brod. She uses art students, friends, and herself as models for the interiors of her sculptures, of which this is one example. The process of moldmaking is complex, since separate castings and wax models are made of the bodies and the clothing. The final, hollow casting in glass articulates the interior and exterior forms.

  • Artwork
    Glass is light. We introduce the light dynamic into the center of the glass mass. That is the definition of the fourth dimension, which cannot be achieved in any other material.
    —Jaroslava Brychtová

    Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová pioneered, explored, developed, and defined glass as a medium for sculpture. The career in glass of this husband and wife team spanned more than 45 years. Their art explores ideas about light, space, transparency, and volume.

    For Red Pyramid and other sculptures, drawings were created by Libenský in his studio and then given to Brychtová, who translated them into three-dimensional clay models. The process of conceiving a sculpture—developing the concept, envisioning the form in three dimensions, and selecting the color of the glass to be used—was shared by the artists. While much abstract art can seem cold or removed, the sculptures of Libenský and Brychtová communicate emotion through color and light.

    This sculpture illustrates a principle that Libenský's professor, Josef Kaplický, taught him. “Abstraction in art,” Kaplický said, “is like an egg. The geometric shape on the outside is enlivened by the warm and mysterious life inside of it.” What Kaplický meant was that all abstract sculpture must have an inner life, an inner energy, to give it meaning. In this sculpture, the artists use light as their source of internal energy.

  • Artwork
    Trained as a painter and sculptor, Dorothy Hafner was a ceramics designer when she started to work with glass. Because she does not blow glass herself, her “tesserae” vessels, such as Aurora, were made with a glassblowing team headed by Lino Tagliapietra. Hafner makes her own kiln-formed and fused glass “collages,” whose colors and shapes are inspired by the sea.
  • Artwork

    This female torso, constructed from 13 individually cast sections, symbolizes the transience of the physical body. It is one of a series of torsos by Clifford Rainey that address the body and time.

    Although the torso appears strong, even armored, it is still vulnerable, a shell that can be broken. The gray-black pigment rubbed into the surface—the color of X-ray film—underscores the body's fragility and susceptibility to things that we cannot see.

  • Artwork
    My art is about my life. Everyone has anxieties and fears, and I try to resolve some of these feelings in my work. It's Raining Knives could be any suburb. The piece is about us, and family, and what is happening now. We may feel safe and secure in our houses, but the truth is that we can never be sure.

    Glass is not a neutral material, but a very powerful medium of communication. It is a wonderful material that is both beautiful and treacherous. I use knives and scissors in my work because they are ordinary, everyday objects that can suddenly become dangerous. For me, knives symbolize the possibility of violence, rather than violence itself.
    —Silvia Levenson

    Silvia Levenson was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She fled the military dictatorship of Gen. Jorge Rafaél Videla, and she moved to Italy with her husband and children in 1981. Videla, who rose to power amid Argentina's political and economic unrest in the 1970s, led the military coup that deposed Isabel Perón on March 24, 1976. He retired as head of the military junta in 1981, but civilian rule was not restored in Argentina until 1983.

    Thousands of Argentineans were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered during Videla's dictatorship. Levenson, who was a political activist, remembers this period of her life as being very intense and frightening. “Thirty thousand people disappeared during the dictatorship,” she says. “Two of my cousins and my uncle's wife disappeared, and my sister was imprisoned.” Much of Levenson's art is an attempt to resolve the difficulties of living with threats of violence, both political and domestic, that are out of our control.

    The installation, It's Raining Knives, was conceived in 1996 in response to Levenson's personal experiences during the Videla dictatorship. It has since become a thought-provoking commentary on the threat of terrorism in general. Rather than making a political statement, Levenson's work is about coming to terms with fear by revealing and facing our most uncomfortable emotions.

  • Artwork
    Kait Rhoads is a sculptor and glassblower who makes vessels and wall panels out of complicated Venetian-style murrine and filigrana, and sculpture out of small blown and cut glass elements that she painstakingly assembles with copper wire. Her interpretation of traditional Venetian glassworking techniques is unique, elegant, and skilled, and her sometimes retro colors are inspired by the palette of 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s textiles and decorative arts.
  • Artwork

    Loretta Yang’s sculpture is inspired by traditional Chinese and Buddhist philosophy. According to Yang, this glass peony, which was cast in one piece, “inspires reflection on the Buddhist teachings of impermanence, as the blossom is most vibrant just before the flower begins to fade.” Esteemed in China as an especially exquisite flower, the peony is a symbol of nobility and wealth. Shown in full bloom, the peony symbolizes peace.

    Loretta Yang is a well-known Chinese actress. In 1987, she joined Chang Yi and Heinrich Wang, who had worked with her in the Chinese film industry, in founding the glass company Liuli Gongfang near Taipei, Taiwan.

  • Artwork

    Donald Lipski’s sculpture and installations examine the properties of organic materials and the operation of ecological systems. He searches out thick-walled industrial and scientific glass containers, such as tanks, spheres, and tubing, that are rated to hold highly toxic acids. Instead of using these vessels for dangerous materials, he encloses delicate and ephemeral substances, such as plants, in order to protect them from an increasingly toxic environment.

    In Water Lilies #52, a bunch of carrots floats inside acid-resistant glass tubing that has been hermetically sealed with a heavy steel clamp. The preservative solution keeps the carrots in suspended animation, but they are gradually fading and decomposing. This is a kind of still life that is not in stasis, but changes over time. Eventually, all that will be left of the carrots is debris at the bottom of the tubing, with only a photograph preserving what the sculpture originally looked like.

  • Artwork
    Tim Edwards is best known for his pairs of simple rectangular vessels with abstract decoration, like this example, that are separated by a visually charged gap of air. While being worked hot at the furnace, the blown vessels are overlaid with soft, natural glass colors, such as grasslike greens or earth-toned browns. Edwards makes the patterns by carving away the outer surface of the colored glass to reveal the transparent glass beneath. This is accomplished by hours of careful and exacting wheel cutting of the glass after it has cooled. The blurred edges of the vessels and their surface texture are also achieved through patient cutting. Edwards’s patterns for his glass recall the patterns of cultivated fields and rock and cloud formations.
  • Artwork
    Jeffry Mitchell is a sculptor and installation artist who works primarily in clay and plaster. When he was invited to be an artist in residence at Pilchuck Glass School, he was given a rare opportunity to work with the glassblower and artist Dante Marioni. Mitchell draws his inspiration from craft and the decorative arts, Baroque sculpture, Eastern philosophy, kitsch, and pop art. Blue Bear is ironic in intent, but it is also sincere. Its subject, the teddy bear, refers to a vast category of kitsch collectibles, but it also alludes to the loss of innocence and the feelings of desire and regret that memories of childhood can evoke.
  • Artwork

    For Susan Plum, glass is a metaphor for light and a way to “concretize the invisible.” She uses borosilicate glass exclusively for its high silica content and its strength. Woven Heaven, Tangled Earth was inspired by her research into ancient Mesoamerican cosmological systems.

    Plum writes: “The woven work in glass that I have done over the last several years was originally inspired by the Mayan goddess Ixchel, the first weaver of the Americas. I later discovered that Mayan and other Mesoamerican traditions use the weaver's loom as a metaphor for the universe. The loom of the universe is believed to be constructed of filaments of light from which the Heavens and Earth are said to be woven. These woven strands of light can become entangled around the Earth, and it is the job of Mayan shamans to untangle this 'discord.' Thus, the act of weaving, for the Maya, symbolically rebuilds and re-energizes the world.”

  • Artwork

    Michael Rogers combines glass and found objects in his symbolic works. There is a strong literary character to his vessels and sculpture, which are often covered in writing. This reflects his interest in poetic language and the complex process involved in describing thought, feeling, and emotion.

    While Rogers was living in Japan, he observed bodies of crows hanging in fields throughout the countryside, serving as scarecrows. This inspired him to make a several works in which lifeless crows appear.

    In 13 Crows, the number of the birds is unlucky. The lifeless bodies are covered in words—in this case, unreadable Japanese newspapers—that could convey good news or bad. Crows, in general, inspire dread and foreboding, but they are also symbolic of creativity and inspiration. The ancient Greeks and Romans used their distinctive caws in divination. While ominous signs abound in this sculpture, the artist does not comment on what they may mean.

  • Artwork

    Toots Zynsky began to develop her unique technique of “painting” with colored glass threads in the early 1980s.

    First, the thousands of multicolored threads that make up her vessels are layered onto a round metal plate. This mass of glass threads is fused inside a kiln and cooled. The fused threads are then turned over, and the outer surface of the vessel is exposed. If Zynsky likes the composition, she will complete the piece through two or more kiln firings in which the stiff mass of fused threads is heated and allowed to slowly sag into a bowl-shaped mold. When the glass has softened, Zynsky reaches into the kiln, wearing heat-resistant gloves, and she pinches and squeezes the glass into its final form.

  • Artwork
    Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg make vessels using traditional Venetian glassforming and cutting processes. In this piece, green glass is overlaid—or cased—with blue glass during the blowing process. After cooling, the blue is cut away to reveal the color underneath. This particular style of cutting is known in Venice as battuto (beaten) because of its resemblance to hammered metal.
  • Artwork
    Christina Bothwell is known for her charming yet strange human figures and anthropomorphic animals in kiln-cast glass, which sometimes incorporate textiles or other materials in addition to low-fired raku. Her figures are animated, energetic, and sometimes flipped upside down. All of them are mysterious and alluring. Recently, Bothwell’s work has taken a more symbolic turn with her interest in birth, death, and physical transformation.
  • Artwork
    Mel Douglas uses a limited palette of black and white glass for her objects, which are engraved with subtle marks and lines reminiscent of patterns in landscape. Her works are inspired by things found in nature, such as smooth rocks and burnished acorns, but they are equally influenced by the simple and minimal forms of mid-20th-century Italian glass design.
  • Artwork
    This vessel looks like an ancient or tribal pottery form. William Morris is best known for his vessels, sculptures, and complex, multipart installations made of blown and hot-sculpted glass. These works give the impression of being anthropological or archeological, and they are inspired by the practices of diverse ancient cultures around the world. The dense decoration of many of Morris’s vessels, and their characteristic matte, acid-etched surfaces, tones down the hardness and shininess of the glass without losing its luminescence.
  • Artwork

    Glass is an inorganic material, and it is not usually thought of as possessing natural or organic qualities. Yet the fact that it can assume a variety of textures and colors—and its unique ability to hold and reflect light—makes it the perfect material with which to explore the natural world.

    Debora Moore is one of an increasing number of contemporary artists whose work in glass is inspired by nature. Her passionate interest in orchids and her commitment to studying the plants and their habitats give her work a powerful focus.

    Host IX–Epidendrum depicts a star orchid that was hot-sculpted by Moore at the furnace. Orchids of the genus Epidendrum are epiphytic, meaning that they grow on other plants. In nature, the pale, delicate flowers—seemingly fragile and luminescent—hang from the dark trunks of the trees on which they thrive. Moore has captured the quality of these ethereal plants by her close observations, and by the fast, spontaneous, and often risky way in which she handles the glass.

    Moore has worked in glass since the late 1980s, and she is best known for her complex studies of orchid trees and bamboos. Her sculptures range from individual objects to wall-size installations that suggest a primordial forest. She does not attempt to create exact replicas. “It is not my intention to be a realist,” Moore says. “What I make is my interpretation; it is what I see.”

  • Artwork

    Dante Marioni works in original and inventive ways with traditional Venetian glassblowing and decorating techniques. Using pop, comic-book colors paired with ancient, classical forms, he has developed several series of blown glass vessels that look contemporary while simultaneously paying homage to the tradition and history of Italian glass.

    One of the forms in this Pair is the becco di oca (goose beak) pitcher, a popular Italian shape with an ancient heritage. The footed cup is derived from the shape of the ancient Greek kylix, a two-handled ceramic drinking vessel.

  • Artwork

    Jill Reynolds is an installation artist whose work explores relationships between art, science, and nature, focusing on the intersections of the body, landscape, language, consciousness, and time. Her pieces are made predominantly of glass, but Reynolds also uses materials appropriate to her varied topics. These materials have included water, twigs, yeast, paper, breath, and hair.

    FAMILY MATTER is a portrait of the artist and her 11 siblings as interconnected molecules. Each glass molecule is made up of 12 sets of letters spelling out a name. The letters are made of small glass rods and larger blown glass tubes that are filled with a bloodlike red liquid. When joined together, the letters create a form similar to representations of molecules used in modern chemistry. In particular, they resemble the models of proteins formed as a result of DNA replication.

    In FAMILY MATTER, the metaphors of molecules and letters are extended to human relationships. The names are specific to one particular family, but the constituent elements are letters of the alphabet that can be recombined to spell the name of anyone or anything in the world.

    In deciphering this molecular model made of glass letters, we can observe that there is meaning in form, that human relationships exist in three dimensions, and that there are meaningful “shapes” created by these relationships, such as families, communities, schools, organizations, and nations. Each person exists within a network of relationships, and each person is a molecule in the huge organism that is the world.

    The molecules consist of the following names: PaUL, ShAUN, ChRIS, tRACY, DAMIeN, REgInA, SHeILa, MarThA, MOLly, JILL, PEgGy, and SIOBHaN.

  • Artwork

    Josiah McElheny is an accomplished glassblower with a profound respect for the traditions and history of the craft. He creates installations of glass objects that are inspired by art or glass history, often using a specific historical or literary anecdote as a point of departure. His objects are often presented with slightly or heavily fictionalized, pseudo-historical narratives, or accompanied by poems or selected quotations. His installations do not merely contextualize his glass objects, but are thoughtful compositions on the history of art, glassblowing, the making of objects, philosophy, and story.

    More recently, the artist has put aside words in favor of the narrative that is generated by juxtaposed forms. Untitled (White) pays tribute to Modernism and the history of 20th-century glass design. McElheny's choice of color—a brilliant white—and purposeful lack of title refer to Modernist concepts of purity, spareness, and simplicity. The objects, displayed in a reproduction of a 1950s International Style cabinet, honor internationally recognized designers who have influenced McElheny.

    The glass, from left to right, reproduces famous designs by Tapio Wirkkala (Finnish, 1915–1985), Fulvio Bianconi (Italian, 1915–1996), Gunnel Nyman (Finnish, 1909–1948), Vittorio Zecchin (Italian, 1878–1947, two objects), Oswald Haerdtl (Austrian, 1899–1959), Josef Hoffmann (Austrian,1870–1956), Paolo Venini (Italian, 1895–1959), Vicke Lindstrand (Swedish, 1904–1983), Nils Landberg (Swedish, 1907–1991, two objects), Tyra Lundgren (Swedish,1897–1979), Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979), and Venini. Some of the designs that inspired McElheny may be seen in the Modern Gallery.

  • Artwork
    Beverly Semmes is an installation and performance artist who works primarily with textiles, but she has recently included ceramic and glass in her projects. This is one of a series of glass vessels that have a strong tactile quality. The knobby glass is pulled and stretched into shape, almost draping and flowing like fabric. With these pieces, Semmes examines the concept of glass as a dynamic solid, as a material in which motion may be arrested.
  • Artwork

    The interior of this sculpture’s square base has a hollow space that mirrors the shape of the solid cone that sits on top of it. When light penetrates the sculpture, the hollow interior cone looks like two cones. The form that is seen is the result of refraction: the double cone does not actually exist.

    Karel uses light, glass, and geometric forms to make illusionistic sculptures that challenge the viewer’s perceptions of space and dimension. He especially likes to work outdoors, where his constructions can interact with the environment, absorbing color and light.

  • Artwork

    Howard Ben Tré's sculptures are inspired by elements of architecture and industry, such as columns, heavy stone fragments, ancient monoliths, and machine parts, but their massiveness suggests cast metal rather than glass.

    In Dedicant 8, the artist creates visual tension between the shape of the sculpture, which is blocky and semi-industrial, and its tactile surface and luminous color. Bars of carved and gilded lead, inserted into the glass mass, transform the object into a altar-like monument with ritualistic implications.

  • Artwork

    Dale Chihuly is an internationally celebrated personality in contemporary art and design whose prominence in the field of studio glass is unmatched. From the beginning of his involvement with glass in the 1960s, Chihuly has focused on the sculptural qualities of the material, using the blown vessel as a vehicle for the exploration of color and form.

    Chihuly was the first American studio glass artist to travel to Murano to observe Venetian glassmaking techniques. He and the artists who followed him there, such as Richard Marquis and Benjamin Moore, stayed at the Venini glasworks for months, learning techniques that had been carefully guarded for centuries.

    In 1979, Chihuly and Moore invited the Muranese master glassblower Lino Tagliapietra to teach at Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle, Washington. Because Tagliapietra formed his glass in traditional ways, Chihuly did not think a collaboration with him would be successful. Then, on a trip to Venice 10 years later, Chihuly saw a collection of Art Deco Italian glass. He wanted to experiment with some of the sculptural forms characteristic of that period, and he contacted Tagliapietra. Together, they began what would become one of Chihuly’s best-known series: the “Venetians.”

  • Artwork

    Ginny Ruffner, who was trained as a painter, is an influential artist and teacher internationally recognized for her flameworked sculptures in glass.

    While small-scale flameworking was traditionally executed with soft soda-lime glasses, Ruffner adapted her knowledge of harder borosilicate glasses, used in scientific glassmaking, to the making of art. Her upbeat sculptures, which refer to personal experiences, memories, and ideas, are sandblasted and covered with designs in paint and colored pencil.

  • Artwork

    Beth Lipman is an admirer of 17th-century Dutch still-life painting, in which the presentation of beautifully composed game, fish, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables is symbolic of the passing of time, mortality, and the transience of earthly achievements.

    This sculpture re-creates a generic still life by an unknown Italian painter, A. Martini. This and other genre paintings were often made into decorative items such as enamel decals. Lipman, who bought the vintage decal, re-created the painting in the decal in glass. She then applied the decal to her glass sculpture.

    By combining these materials, Lipman engages us in an interesting visual “conversation” in which subject and object (inspiration and creation) are compared and two-dimensional and three-dimensional art (painting and sculpture) are contrasted.

  • Artwork

    Unsatisfied with the limited techniques practiced and taught in American studio glass in the 1960s, studio glass pioineer Richard Marquis went to the Venini glassworks on Murano in 1969. There, he observed and worked with some of the most talented glass masters in the world. He later shared his knowledge of historic Italian techniques, such as murrine (mosaic) and filigrana (filigree), by demonstrating and teaching at workshops throughout the United States and Australia.

    This murrine vessel, called a Marquiscarpa, was named in honor of the renowned Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa (1906–1978). Scarpa's most famous designs in murrine were produced at the Venini glassworks from 1932 to 1940.

  • Artwork
    Judy Hill makes female figures that look identical, but which are individualized through posture and gesture. All of her figures, whether single or grouped, are portraits of herself that reflect different states of mind, thoughts, preoccupations, and experiences.
  • Artwork
    Yoichi Ohira is inspired by the vivid colors of Venetian glass and the quiet, restrained forms of Japanese decorative arts. This trio of vessels consists of three forms that represent different elements of the Japanese landscape: “Crater,” “Lake,” and “Waterfall.” In this work, fused canes, patterned murrine, and inlays are picked up on the blowpipe and blown. Colored glass powders are added during the blowing process. Cratere displays the type of murrine that is known as corazza della tartaruga (turtle carapace). The blue glass surfaces of Lago and Cascata are lightly cut in the battuto technique to suggest the movement and reflection of light on water.
  • Artwork
    The interface of light and surface is my medium . . . Most of the glass sculptures and projects that I have done require the viewer to interact with the work in the actual space it is presented. They become a part of it.
    —Larry Bell

    In the 1960s, Larry Bell broke new ground in contemporary sculpture with his illusionistic boxes and large-scale sculptures. These pieces were executed in plate glass that was made highly reflective with thin coatings of vaporized metal. Bell has since continued to explore these materials in two- and three-dimensional works.

    In this two-dimensional piece, vaporized metals are used to create the central image on several panels of layered glass. Light shifts and refracts among the particles on the vacuum-coated surface, causing colors to iridesce from gold or silver to blue or violet. The glass is surrounded by black denim, which absorbs light. For Bell, the behavior of reflected and absorbed light is the subject of this work.

  • Artwork

    The dark and roughened surface of György Buczkó’s mysterious sculpture is suggestive of an ancient relic. The sculpture is reminiscent of a letter of a forgotten language, or even a hieroglyph. Buczkó has a deep interest in the shapes of hieroglyphs and other symbols developed by early cultures. He says, “My interest stems from their simplified yet powerful appearance, in which only the essential elements remain after all the unnecessary factors are removed.”

    Buczkó is a designer, sculptor, and educator who teaches in the glass department at the Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts in Budapest. He also works in ceramic. He is one of a small group of Hungarian artists who have attracted international attention for their work in sculptural glass.

  • Artwork

    Gaetano Pesce is an architect, artist, and designer who has undertaken diverse commissions in architecture, urban planning, interior and exhibition design, industrial design, and publishing. CIRVA, an important experimental glass workshop in Marseilles, France, has invited many celebrated artists, architects, and designers to work with glass and to find new ways in which it may be expressed.

    Using a variety of materials, Pesce has designed objects ranging from flower vases to furniture. He is known for his asymmetrical forms and unrestrained use of color. This vessel, which was difficult to make without breaking, is intentionally primitive-looking. Pesce left in place the tubelike sprues, which are used in the casting process, to show how the vessel was constructed. By leaving the rim uneven and the surface seemingly rough, he subverts the meticulous finishing processes that are characteristic of well-crafted objects.

  • Artwork
    The Sky works are splinters of heaven fallen to earth. They mirror the heavens, the earth, and the self, who is watching. My dream is to put one of my works on the sacred Greek island of Delos. Invisible.
    —Alessandro Diaz de Santillana

    Alessandro Diaz de Santillana uses color and form to interpret the four elements of the exterior world (air, earth, fire, and water) and the five senses of the interior world (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch). His abstract sculptures are minimal yet sensuous.

    In West Sky, he translates the element of sky and its sense-associations (light, air, wind, cold, fresh, open) into a hard, reflective, aerodynamic vertical. This frozen silver zeppelin is made invisible by its mirrored surface filled with air bubbles, which reflects the world around it.

    De Santillana is part of a famous glassmaking family. His grandfather, Paolo Venini (1895–1959), founded the influential Venini glassworks on the island of Murano in 1921. His father, Ludovico Diaz de Santillana (1931–1989), produced many well-known designs for Venini.

  • Artwork
    Glass is a futuristic material that has its roots in a time long past.
    —Bernard Dejonghe

    The cold, white blocks of Bernard Dejonghe's sculpture are more evocative of snow and ice than of the intense heat of the glass kiln. Dejonghe casts his colorless, optical-quality glass so that it develops a hard, devitrified white crust that is then chiseled. The result is a sculpture that has the depth and clarity of crystal with the rough and tactile surface of weathered glass or stone.

    A sculptor, Dejonghe worked primarily in ceramics before turning to glass, and he is still interested in both materials.

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    Glass is a familiar material to Kiki Smith, a sculptor, printmaker, and installation artist who has used cast, hot-sculpted, and flameworked glass elements, as well as glass beads, in her multimedia work. For Steuben, Smith created a simple blown container that she treated like a body with a skin. For the decoration, which is engraved or “tattooed” onto the surface of the vessel, Smith chose common tattoo designs, such as a snake, a butterfly, and a rose. She added the motif of the bird, which is a recurring theme in her work. The master glass engraver Max Erlacher developed a new method of engraving for Smith, which allowed her to “draw” on the vase in a manner that looks looser and more spontaneous than traditional engraving.
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    An acclaimed designer and studio artist, Ann Wolff has spent most of her adult life living and working in Transjö, Sweden. For many years, she designed for the Kosta Boda glassworks, during which time she also pursued an independent career as a studio artist.

    The subject of Wolff’s blown and engraved bowls and cast sculptures is the life of women, and her work rarely strays from that exploration. The relationships between women as friends and as mothers and daughters, as well as the role of women in society, deeply concern her. Wolff writes: “It is natural to take oneself as one’s starting point. The situation of women partly determines who I am and leads me to pose particular questions.”

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    Joyce Scott uses glass beads to address topics such as sexuality, violence, and civil rights. Three Graces Oblivious While Los Angeles Burns was created in the wake of the beating of Rodney King by police officers in Los Angeles, and the citywide rioting that followed their acquittal in 1992.

    Beneath the head of an African-American, representing the victimized King, the three Graces—who symbolize gracefulness, peace, and happiness—turn their backs on a burning city skyline.

    For Scott, the choice of beads is intentional. Beadworking is traditionally regarded as a woman’s pursuit, and it is usually associated with jewelry and other decorative applications, especially in ethnographic and folk art. In Scott’s hands, the bead regains its currency, but it is a value that is symbolic rather than monetary.

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    A deep connection to the natural world and the realm of the senses lies at the heart of Laura de Santillana’s designs. Nile is one of a series of oblong murrine vessels that, in their colors and patterns, resemble river waters. Executed in muddy greenish brown murrine tipped in white, Nile is a large and heavy piece that evokes the humid, surging waters of the ancient river for which it is named.
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    Gasch-Muche studied painting and drawing, but she has experimented with different materials throughout her career. From 1998 on, she has worked primarily with broken LCD, or “display,” glass.

    Gasch-Muche believes that every material, regardless of whether it is naturally or industrially produced, has its own inherent structure and texture waiting to be given form. “I did not discover glass,” she says. “It discovered me, and it opened up the possibility of painting with light.” She enjoys working with display glass and because it is so thin, it can be arranged in different ways to reflect and scatter light.