As program director and manager of the Glass Studio at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virgnia, Charlotte Potter somehow manages to balance all the responsibilities of running a thriving glass center with visiting artists, residencies, and a monthly program of curated performances using glass, and she also finds time to pursue her individual artist's practice. The Hot Sheet recently had the opportunity to interview Potter about her latest projects.
GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet: What are you working on?
Charlotte Potter: I’m beginning a series of smaller wearable works in direct response to a recently completed piece entitled Armor. This work is constructed out of 3,700 glass microscope slides with every inch of my skin printed onto them. Each slide is attached to the four others around it using sterling silver chain creating a dragon scale pattern used in Roman armor construction. I’ve been considering how it feels be in another person’s skin, how thick our skin is, and this work is referencing skin is the largest organ in our body—our armor to the outside world. A glass armor is not helpful in war, the material can be strong but is ultimately quite fragile. Armor protects you, and yet this armor is exposing my naked body. The image is not of an idealized woman’s body—but a realistic one. With all of its curves and imperfections.
My new series is utilizing a similar process of printing images of my skin on microscope slides and connecting them with silver chain. The first is a chest plate. The image is my chest—after a man laid on it long enough for their chest hair to create impressions on my skin. The “necklace” is weighty—implying the weight of relationships and the literal and metaphysical impressions they can have on our person. The second a shawl/cowl of my shoulders that can be draped—literally wearing the artist’s skin as adornment.
The third is a chastity belt. I feel I need to explain this one a bit more. I employ a talented artist in her own right, Hannah Kirkpatrick as my artist assistant. She constructed much of this Armor piece, day and night, often for over 12 hours a day for months and months on end. One morning she came to work, blushing and stated that my work was affecting her subconscious. The night prior she had a dream, in which her partner wanted to “snuggle” and she pushed him away— emphatic that he might break the glass armor—that she was apparently wearing to bed. I laughed and apologized that my art was becoming her chastity belt. Right then I decided I must make her one. I haven't decided if it will be my skin or hers—mine feels a bit strange. Not that I ever shy from eccentric, but that might be too close for comfort.
GLASS: What have you seen recently that inspired you?
Charlotte: I’m constantly looking for relevance and reasoning for using glass in my work. Researching different industries that have utilized this material has become a pivotal part of my practice. Glass and medicine have a long history, the industries have been linked for over 2,000 years. Some of the earliest excavated glass vessels are believed to be for ointments and salves. Medicines are packaged in glass vessels, specimens are collected on glass slides, studied and catalogued. I was really inspired by photographic glass slides classifying skin diseases at the Mutter Museum. Recently I spent a long time studying prosthetic glass eyeballs in the Shelburne Museum collection. Today I was reading about Liza Lou’s new piece Continuous Mile recently acquired by The Corning Museum of Glass and was feeling really moved by her process. In this work she beaded a mile of rope with communities in Africa. Primarily her appreciation of meticulous process, not working to complete the project, but lingering in the process, enjoying it without urgency.
GLASS: Where is it possible to see your work on exhibit?
Charlotte: An exhibition entitled "SuperCool Glass" (intended to be a word play on glass being a super cooled liquid) at the Shelburne Museum of Art in Shelburne, Vermont.
You can also find my work in the "Cutting Edge" exhibition at d'Art Center at Seldon Arcade in Norfolk, Virgnia.
I'm presenting an Emerging Artist Lecture at the 2014 Glass Art Society Conference in Chicago.
Finally I have a solo exhibition this summer at the Visual Art Center of Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth, Virgnia.