The Pittsburgh Glass Center’s newest exhibition titled, "Breaking Through: Moving 4ward," is slated to open at the Hodge Gallery on May 2, 2014 and run through July 20, 2014. The four up-and-coming women artists whose work will be featured— Lisa Demagall, Laura Beth Konopinski, Anna Mlasowski, and Nadine Saylor — have each spent a month in residence at PGC, where they experimented with new techniques for their craft, displaying varying styles and concepts as they worked from four different studios within PGC.
In an email exchange with the GLASS Quarterly Hotsheet, Pittsburgh Glass Center executive director Heather McElwee, the curator of the exhibit, discussed the selection of the artists involved and the process of organizing the event. “Each applied for a residency that would focus on making new work in a different studio at PGC,” explained McElwee, who chose the four artists. “Nadine would be blowing glass in the hot shop, Laura Beth working in the cold shop, and Anna working in the kilnforming studio. I thought it would be an interesting concept to have them all in residence and perhaps include another artist [Lisa Demagall] in the flame shop to utilize all of the facilities at PGC.”
Each of the four artists has a style unique unto herself, and each works in a different technique in glass. The work of Nadine Saylor, which “explores the dichotomy of fantasy and reality” according to a Pittsburgh Glass Center announcement, includes her recent piece The Illusion of Ordinary Life (2013), essentially a rotating motion lamp that casts shadows on the wall. What is unique is its featuring the classic carousel horses, which offer a striking contrast to the accompaniment of a beggar woman superimposed with their images.
Installation artist Lisa Demagall hails from Ohio. For her residency, she worked with sculptural flameworking and kiln-cast techniques to create a dollhouse furnished with glass objects and vignettes on a 1:12 scale. Through such pieces, Demagall explores the concept of the house as an idealized home subject to decay, as well as abandoned spaces.
Anna Mlasowsky works with multimedia sources, including fused glass. Favoring devitrification, an effect in glass caused by excess heat whereby the material begins to appear crystalline, Mlasowsky explores the idea of turning an unfavorable trait in her chosen media into a thing of beauty. “I am most interested in using the undervalued properties of glass, which can be transformed into desirable secret aspects that show the material from a different, unexpected perspective,” she says in a press release about the exhibition.
Laura Beth Konopinski creates her art from repurposed materials, which stems from her passion for environmental conservation. Using organic compounds in her sculptures enables her to use the transparency of glass to see the natural work in new ways.
While there was no particular theme in mind when it came to organizing "Breaking Through: Moving 4ward," the unique styles of the artists come together to create an equally unique viewing experience. “I was surprised to see how well the work goes together,” says McElwee. “We selected the artists based on their independent proposals and it was unexpected that the works would fit so nicely together and how each one compliments the other."
"All four artists explored new ideas, tried new techniques, and made new work," McElwee continues. "I’m thrilled to know that we helped facilitate this exploration and new body of work, and encouraged the cross interaction and sharing of ideas between these visiting artists and our local glass artists and community.”
IF YOU GO:"Breaking Through: Moving 4ward" May 2, 2014-July 20, 2014; Opening reception: May 2, 2014, 6 PM Pittsburgh Glass Center Hodge Gallery 5472 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15206 www.pittsburghglasscenter.org