Started in 2004, UrbanGlass's Annual MFA Exhibition highlights emerging artists who use glass in their work. This year's show will present large-scale sculpture by artists whose work explores the natural world through the combination of glass, found objects, wood, and technology. The MFA Exhibition will feature work by Melissa Athey, Sarah Briland, Weston Lambert, and Wil Sideman.
As we welcome UrbanGlass back to its Fort Green home, we also welcome its annual MFA Exhibition to the gallery’s new location in the Agnes Varis Art Center. Set in the context of Brooklyn’s stunning new arts hub, featured artists Melissa Athey, Sarah Briland, Weston Lambert, and Wil Sideman enjoy a renewed sense of cooperation and transparency in the gallery’s ground floor location. Just as the architectural plan carves various pathways in service of multiple programs – to look, to think, to talk, eat, read or acquire – so do the adjacencies of shops and galleries convey that the programs of art and design converge and divide with ease. We in Brooklyn are not alone in this renewed architecture of creative possibilities.
The four young makers featured in this exhibition present their work, first and foremost as physical ideas, best described as sculpture. As a group Athey, Briland, Lambert, and Sideman engage in the methodologies broadly considered “art”- leaning the discipline of sculpture toward other sub-categories that are helpful to know when driving toward the meaning of their work. All of them have a deep interest in the fabrication of objects. While Briland might use a lace-like sheet of color to respond to the distinctly white wall of the gallery space, Sideman would use a collection of things – a fishing lure hung on the lip of a rather utilitarian bucket, sitting on a small wooden deck to convey an imagined space outside of the white box.
Space related issues that come into play via objects, tap other agendas lodged in neighbor disciplines. Briland embraces the language of painting by placing flat planes of color, lines and light on a white wall, provoking optical apprehension and refection. Our awareness of performance is tapped in the case of Athey’s theatrical tableau of animated reflection. Both use variations of Installation as an aesthetic location.
As is the norm, each sculptor finds a distinct relationship with craft. Lambert and Sideman tune their works with the clarity and precision of whole notes set in a common time signature. We enter their poetic compositions through refined surfaces even though they might each shift size and scale. As such, their individual methods insure our admission into their works as standing bodies or imaginative minds. On the other hand, Athey and Briland seem to prefer to reveal craft processes – as if arrested mid-note. Utilizing variations of syncopation, sharps, and flats each one plays with perceptions of factual conditions in service of fantasy.
All four artists use glass as a major component in their work. Each one uses the material precisely to affect the success of the works as whole. Whether these artists conceive the aim of their studio work as poetics, aesthetics, or something else – in pursuit of illusion or a depicting reality – they know that precise use of all materials and processes will make or break the success of any work. With that in mind, UrbanGlass is wise to have selected these four sculptors in the context of their own glass agenda. On this common ground we see the ever-emerging possibilities with all things made first and foremost as physical ideas.