Tuesday April 17, 2018 | by Valerie Hughes

EXHIBITION: Philadelphia glass museum seeks to join the visual and the auditory in "Sound + Vision"

The relationship between sound and art has often been explored by artists who attempt to unite the visual and auditory worlds. Through June 10, 2018, the National Liberty Museum of Philadelphia will feature “Sound + Vision,” an exhibition of glass instruments and sculptures that grant a new perspective on sound and visual expression. Thirty-four featured artists created their own interpretations of the relationship between glass art and sound, ranging from glass instruments, some of which are playable, to mosaics of music legends. “Sound + Vision” presents the relationship between music and art through a multitude of stylistic glass works in a collection of different artistic skills and techniques.

The April 6th opening drew more than 350 people, including many of the participating artists, who came to not only see but hear the musical performances by violinist Jeoung Yin Kim, violist Meng Wang, and cellist Robert Cafaro from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

After taking a class at Public Glass in San Francisco, artist Julie Alland developed a fascination for the unique physical properties of glass. In her works, Alland enjoys exploring a range of ideas, such as paradoxical opposites as well as mortality. Her work featured in “Sound + Vision” is a part of her “Mixed Emotions” Series. “Song File #1 (Friends of Prometheus)” is a cassette tape fused between pieces of glass with fire-themed song titles inscribed on each piece. Prometheus is a figure in Greek mythology credited for giving fire to humanity. In an email exchange with the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet, Alland explains that she chose to incorporate this story of fire into her work because glass artists “need heat and sometimes fire to create our work.” Not only this, but she says that audiotape is a perfect way to express “the magic and absurdity of producing something tangible out of invisible and fleeting elements such as magnetism, sound waves, and time.”

With a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Mandell creates bright mosaics with keen details of spatial composition, line, and color. His works included in the exhibit are, “Elvis Presley” and “Beatles Roof Top Concert”, which capture the vitality of the musical legends they depict. Mandell sees his works as a form of painting rather than sculpture. In sculpture, the artist pays close attention to form, whereas in his mosaics, Mandell pays attention to line and space to create a work that has more depth and liveliness. In a phone interview, Mandell explains that “Music is a fascinating subject matter as a narrative.” Translating music’s emotion to art appeals to Mandell. In “Beatles Roof Top Concert”, Mandell explains that the faces of the musicians were about the size of a quarter coin and that the details of their faces demanded meticulous action.

Caroline O’Connor’s featured work in the exhibition is “A Sea of Horns”, which is inspired both by the David Bowie song “Sound And Vision” and dolphines’ use of sound waves to see and communicate with one another. Her fascination with dolphins has been a source of inspiration for previous works as well. O’Connor’s work in “Sound + Vision” is one of the interactive pieces, giving viewers the chance to blow into “glass animal horns.” In an email, O’Connor explains that she chose to incorporate these horns into the work because they were the first musical instruments used by humans. Additionally, O’Connor explains that she used a gradient gray color for the horns to express how sound fades and adds that “sound gives us vision.” O’Connor earned her MA in Glass from the University of the Creative Arts in Farnham, England and her art has been featured at the Menier Gallery, as well as at the Morley Gallery in London later this year.

Gary Word is another artist who creates interactive glass instruments. His works can range from small-scale pieces to large-scale residential interior and exterior projects. Since he began working with glass in the year 2000, Word was fascinated by the incorporation of sound into his projects and an idea that began in crude form evolved into the creation of functional string instruments. To make these instruments, Word “starts with forming precise sculptures in clay, shaping and casting.” Then, crystal glass is hand layered in plaster and silica molds and then fired in a kiln at 1500 degrees. With his interest in glass along with a fascination of science and engineering, Word has created a great collection of glass instruments.

Paige Morris, with a BFA concentration in Glass from the Tyler School of Art, was not initially sure if her piece would fit well into the exhibition, seeing that it is sculptural. “You Were Always Leaving” consists of an open suitcase with a peek of purple cloth inside and is a part of Morris’ body of work entitled “Something Blue”, which comments on societal stereotypes about women’s desires for a relationship. The work was inspired by the song “Foolish Little Girls” by The Shirelles. In a phone interview, Morris says that she views music as an art form and that “utilizing music within work can reach a broader audience.”

Also exhibited is work by Anna Mlasowsky, a glass artist who was born in Germany and has a BA in Glass from the Royal Danish Academy as well as an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Washington. She often works with frequencies and wave patterns in her projects and this exhibit is no different. Her work is “Sound Visions,” a project comprised of four panels with glass powder that are infused onto sheet glass. Describing the process in a phone interview with Hot Sheet, Mlasowsky explains that she placed sheets of glass into separate trays of water and then sifted glass powder into the water. After that, she created vibrations in the water with specific wave patterns for each tray. The glass powder then settled according to the wave patterns and Mlasowsky then put the panels into the kiln to fire. These panels are displayed with their own pair of headphones, which emit a sound that is correspondent to the pattern on the glass sheets. Mlasowsky explains that she has an interest in creating silent sound. “Sound is just noise and noise is confusing,” she says. “Art and sound enable us to visualize something that does not have physical form.”

Open seven days a week, the National Liberty Museum emphasizes the unity that accompanies the establishment of liberty through exhibits, and educational and public programs. The NLM promotes learning and the inclusion of all members of society. “Sound + Vision” unites art and sound in a way that has not been seen before and art-goers must see the exhibition for themselves before it concludes in June.

IF YOU GO:

"Sound + Vision"
Through June 10, 2018
The National Liberty Museum
321 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tel: 215.925.2800
Website: http://www.libertymuseum.org/

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.