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Saturday November 21, 2020 | by Andrew Page

The potent relationship between glass and photography explored in gallery exhibition curated by Kim Harty

In 1877, inventor Edward Muybridge used tripwires to photograph a horse in motion, proving something impossible for the human eye to see in real-time. While his photograph that froze a trotting horse with all four hooves off the ground settled a bet, it became one of the best-known motion studies of the Victorian era, a field called chronophotography. The title of Rebecca Solnit's biography of Muybridge, River of Shadows, was adopted by artist and educator Kim Harty for her group photography exhibition that brings together the camera lens and glass artists who use photography to reveal insights into glass process, and could be considered a contemporary type of chronophotography. 

Featuring 18 works by Dylan Brams, Rebecca Cummins, Carmichael Jones, Helen Lee, Amy Lemaire, Sharyn O'Mara, David Schnuckel, and Ethan Townsend, the exhibition "River of Shadows" is on view at Heller Gallery through January 9, 2021, and will be the subject of a Zoom conversation this afternoon at 2 PM EST.

By telephone, the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet recently interviewed Harty, who is the head of the glass program at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit

Glass: What inspired you to bring together glass and photography in a group exhibition?
Kim Harty: I've been interested in photography as a means for tracking the body and the body’s relationship to the glass object, both in my artwork and as a personal interest. I've also also noticed over time how a number of artists are working with photography as a way to investigate the material of glass.The work in the exhibition spans over a decade of people working this way. I was really inspired to bring together all these artists and glass practitioners who are using photography as a medium exploring different phenomena in the material that can only be addressed through photography.

Glass: What is special about glass and its relationship to time? 
The work really shows the insight that can be gained through a sustained making practice with glass, and the artists share a deep curiosity about the behavior of the material, how glass is tied to its relationship with time. Photography is a way to express things the heating or cooling, the way glass moves, the incremental development of skill. With a photograph, you get a chance to think about time, whether layered or presented a different way, time is a critical aspect of glass that photography makes possible to look at.

Glass: So our understanding of glass can be enhanced because our perception of it is mediated through photography? To what degree is it relevant that camera lenses are also made from glass?
Harty: Yes, glass is iterated once again into the camera. This is very relevant in the work of Amy Lemaire, who is making her own lens that the camera looks through. And glass is reiterated in that because of the pandemic, many will experience the work as a virtual exhibition through the optic cable that forms the Internet, and additionally through the glass screens of our phones and laptops. The original impulse was about the photographic camera, but now that we’re all viewing it virtually, there are additional layers of how we are experiencing the photographs through out digital interfaces.

Glass: Looking at the 18 exhibited works, it is clear the artists really have quite different concerns and approaches. What do they all share?
What links them all is that their work comes out of a collective deep interest in glass as a material phenomenon. The works share an investigatory approach to the phenomenon of the material. You can say that artists such as Rebecca Cummins, Ethan Townsend, and Amy Lemaire are exploring glass manipulation and really thinking about process. Other artists such as Helen Lee, for example, are working with metaphor. Though Helen's work is very scientific, she is exploring this moment of shattering, the transition between one state and another -- life and death. Sharyn O'Mara's work deals with memory and her sentimentality around canines. Carmichael Jones is poking fun at the quest of the glassblower to master the cup, creating this landscape of phallic forms that are strange and unrecognizable. And finally David Schnuckel and Dylan Brams are thinking about time and its relationship to the vessel, its making and unmaking.

Glass: There is some of your work in the exhibition as well, some of it a collaboration. How do you see your work in relation to the theme? 
My work is about the object as a performance of its own, with the making encoded on it. I'm imagining all the activity a body has around it, which becomes invisible in the final product. This has been n ongoing interest in mine.


Through January 9, 2021
Group Exhibition curated by Kim Harty
Virtual opening exhibition, November 21, 2:30 PM EST (via Zoom)
"River of Shadows"
Heller Gallery
303 10th Ave. (bt 27th St. and 28th St.)
New York City
Tel: 212 - 414 - 4014
Register for this afternoon's Zoom conversation here:

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.