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Monday October 4, 2010 | by Andrew Page

3 Questions For ... Mel Douglas

Mel Douglas at work in her studio.

GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet: What are you working on?
Mel Douglas: My latest body of work was inspired by a recent residency at Northlands Creative Glass in the north of Scotland. It was my first trip to the Highlands and I was really taken aback by the landscape. In the image, I’m working on a series of panels inspired by the dry stone bridges and Cairns found in Caithness. I was completely blown away by the craftsmanship and beauty of these ancient structures, the meticulous and unforgiving way each stone was held into place by the next, and the way the harsh environment aged these structures. I was also intrigued by the way these constructions were positioned in the landscape, with the rolling hills and vast open spaces framing these historic beauties.

What also interested me were the changes that occur within the landscape with the fading light: the quiet shadows that appear with the last light of day; and the shimmer of fading light across a body of water. I find beauty and poetry in the ordinary things that represent and allude to changes in terrain, and the effect that time and light has upon them.

Being in the quiet and solitude of Northlands, surrounded by dramatic landscape, I had the time and space to take in these changes which often pass me by without being noticed.

Mel Douglas, Highlands #2, 2010. Kiln-formed glass, coldworked and engraved. H 31 1/2, W 16, D 1/2 in. (Each piece)

GLASS: What artwork have you seen recently that has inspired you and got you thinking about your own work?
Mel: After seeing an amazing retrospective exhibition of Australian/New Zealand artist Rosalie Gascoigne’s work in 2009, I’ve become a big fan. Rosalie primarily made assemblages composed of materials she found while scavenging in the Canberra hinterland. I love the way she combines materials and transforms discarded refuse into timeless beauty.

I also love the work of Ellsworth Kelly, especially his shaped canvases. The forms are slick and refined, not a thing out of place. I am usually not one for bold color; however the singular bold palette he uses enhances and purifies the shapes.

Agnes Martin is another artist whose work I’ve been looking at a lot recently. I enjoy and identify with her emphasis upon lines, grids, and fields of extremely subtle color. I love and admire the way she retained small flaws and unmistakable traces of the artist’s hand. There is nothing better than being drawn to something that, at first glance, looks so perfect, yet the longer you look, the nuances of the artist start to stand out. I also love the way her canvases shimmer in the changing light.

Lastly an old favorite and constant reference for me is British potter Han Coper. His constructed forms are so well-balanced and proportionally perfect. I’d love to own one.

GLASS: Where is it possible to see you work?
I’m currently having a solo exhibition at Bullseye Gallery in Portland, Oregon, entitled “Eventide” and running from October 6th through November 20th, 2010. I’m also sending some work over for Bullseye to show at Art Miami 2010 which will run from December 01 – 05, 2010. To coincide with next year’s 15th biennial Ausglass conference titled “Peripheral Vision. I’ll have some work in the exhibition “Geometry,” which will showcase Sabbia’s stable of artists working in glass and held at Sabbia Gallery, Sydney Australia from January 19 – February 12 2011.

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.