Friday January 25, 2019 | by Ivana Pencheff

CONVERSATION: Susie Peck discusses her inquiry into the sensuality of glass in an upcoming performance-art project

Artist, educator, writer, and curator Suzanne Peck has been fascinated by the push and pull of molten glass for years. Drawn to its hot glow and honey-like qualities out of the furnace, she was equally aware of its very real danger. Investigating this dual nature is a central theme in her upcoming performance project entitled Half A Bubble Off  Plumb, which will channel the seductive nature of glass through similar materials such as honey, soap bubbles, and cotton candy. Before her performance coming up on Saturday, January 26th at UrbanGlass, the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet spoke with Susie about the creative process that went into preparing for the performance. (Disclosure: The Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet is published by UrbanGlass.)

Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet: What was your inspiration behind the piece?
Suzanne Peck: I think a lot about how glass is this really seductive material, especially when it's hot and fresh out of the furnace, and how you want to touch it but you can't. That's like an overarching consideration for the majority of artwork I make. In this performance, I wanted to create a set of movements that were using materials that I think of as materials that rhyme like glass. Materials that move, and materials that are sticky like glass. I paired them with hot glass to attend to that connection of things that you can touch and things that you can't.

Glass: Can you describe the meaning behind the name of the performance?
Peck: Half A Bubble Off Plumb is an idiom that alludes to something being off kilter or kooky. When you use a spirit level, you set it down on a table or a bookshelf and the bubble is a little off, it means that it's off kilter. So, half a bubble off plumb means half a bubble off center. So I really liked the idea of using the language of the bubble but also, referring to this notion of lunacy and fun.

Glass: How will the performance be executed?
Peck: I'm thinking of the performance as a performance in three movements. The movements themselves overlap so there's a beginning and an ending, but no hard transition between the experiences. In one movement you might experience different kinds of threads, and warmth, and strings. In another movement you might experience different kinds of bubbles and inflation. In another movement you might experience things that are sticky and flowing. All of these movements should interweave until the end moment which will be some sort of large catalyst of gooey, sticky, glowing, bubbly magic.

Glass: As a visual artist, writer, curator, and educator, how does the performance tie together all of your career work? 
Peck: I get to scratch a lot of different artistic itches when I perform. I get to use materials in ways that don't have to result in object. In essence, performance is the same spirit as educating because it's this element of real-time sharing, and communication through material.

Glass: When did your desire to touch glass arise? 
Peck: I'm definitely the kind of person that wants to touch everything. This material feels natural and antithetical to that desire, because it is so sexy yet forbidding. So I think that the tension between the two are the magnets that keep me coming back.

Glass: How did you select the materials (honey, soap bubbles, cotton candy) for the performance?
Peck: Not only did they rhyme materially with glass, but they also started talking to each other, so that's how that trio got selected.

Glass: Were there any challenges you ran into along the way?
Peck: This project has been in the works for over a year. What I've learned about my practice is that the majority of the decisions happen within the month before the performance. So I'm thinking about all of these things, but I found it challenging to really concertize anything until the deadline was more tangible. The challenge of bringing a performance to a space that isn't your home studio is that I have all of these plans and they are going to now have to conform. It's really exciting because now I get to make firm all of the plans. 

Glass: What do you hope that the performance accomplishes? 
Peck: I hope that the audience leaves feeling delighted. That would be an extraordinary gift that the performers and I could give. I think that whether or not the audience knows anything about glass, that they go away thinking something new about the material, or a doorway is opened into what this material can do or the metaphors that it brings up that maybe they haven't considered before.


Suzanne Peck: Half A Bubble Off Plumb 
Artistic Performance
January 26th, 2019, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
UrbanGlass Studio
647 Fulton St 
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Tel: 718.625.3685

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 35 years.