Tuesday August 27, 2013 | by Vaughn Watson

Katherine Gray reprises tree installation for UrbanGlass exhibition

FILED UNDER: Design, Events, Exhibition

Forest Glass, 2009. Glass and Mixed Media. 63 x 30 x120 in. Katherine Gray, Forest Glass, 2009. Glass and mixed media. H 120 (tallest), W 63, D 30 in. Installation at the Chrysler Museum of Art in 2009.

To celebrate the October 2013 reopening of its facility in Brooklyn, UrbanGlass invited sculptor Katherine Gray to commemorate the event with an installation artwork. (Disclosure: The GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet is published by UrbanGlass.) In a nod to her 2009 installation Forest Glass that debuted at Los Angeles’ Acuna-Hansen Gallery to positive reviews from the Los Angeles Times, Gray is modifying the original concept for her latest project. The new work, A Tree Grows (referencing the Betty Smith classic novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) seeks to capture the spirit of UrbanGlass, an organization that has served the glass art community for over 40 years.

For this project, Gray is inviting public participation, soliciting donated glasses out of which the piece will be constructed. “Overcoming dire circumstances and obstacles in life to become something greater: that’s what UrbanGlass is doing,” Gray told the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet in a telephone interview. To her, the resilience of a tree was the most accurate representation of the significance of the organization’s move.

The sculpture will be composed of hundreds of glasses provided by UrbanGlass’ extensive network of employees, artists, and supporters. Glasses in shades of green and brown, some clear, are stacked on shelves in a way that brings to mind the familiar silhouette and color of trees when seen from a distance. A Tree Grows will feature three trees, just as Forest Glass does. Gray took local fauna flora into account, modeling two of the trees on the Norwegian Maple and the London Plane, species that are prevalent throughout the borough. The final tree, a Mulberry, references UrbanGlass’ original headquarters on Mulberry Street.

“Glass usually requires working with a team to realize one person’s vision,” the artist said. Her use of these recycled glasses as well as her listing each donator as a contributor symbolizes the teamwork required to complete a piece. Each glass is also personalized with a glass tile etched with the donor’s name which will be used to help define the tree shape.

A Tree Grows will be on view at The Agnes Varis Art Center in the new UrbanGlass building from its October 2, 2013 opening until January 4, 2014. There are still a few days left to donate glasses to the project by mailing them to: “A Tree Grows, c/o UrbanGlass, 126 13th Street, Lower Level, Brooklyn, NY 11215.”

—Vaughn M. Watson

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.