In the latest collection by Amber Cowan (previously), colorful vintage glass is sculpted into three fairytale stories: Bridesmaid’s Forest, Bridesmaid’s Search for the Desert Rose, and Grotto of the Chocolate Nymph. Cowan transforms discarded glass from the 1900s into sculptural “paintings” that burst with natural forms, and her latest collection of monochrome scenes effortlessly tempts viewers into their enchanted worlds.
Cowan first curates the color of each piece, collecting specific figurines and animals from vintage glass works. She then melts the rest of the glass through a methodical flameworking process to create the scenery that will surround the found figurines. Leaves, flowers, feathers, and tiny glistening pearls are carefully crafted to fill each dense, botanical world.
The female figurine central to her mint-green Bridesmaid’s Forest was originally part of a glass ornament called The Bridesmaid, which was pressed from the Ohio-based Fenton Art Glass Factory. Cowan built a fantastical world around the bridesmaid, sculpting a colorful leaf-filled forest which features a whale, snail, and duck nestled within the fragile glass shrubbery. “My story with this piece is that the bridesmaid got bored of the wedding and wandered off to make her own fun,” Cowan explains to Colossal. “It is kind of a fantasy landscape.”
Bridesmaid’s Search for the Desert Rose is a spiritual adventure where the natural elements featured in the piece were chosen for their symbolism and how they relate to the bridesmaid’s story. “The figurine is standing in front of a pyramidal line pointed towards the sun; next to her is her feline companion and across from her is the totem animal of the giraffe symbolizing the ability to see into the future and obtain things that are normally out of reach,” she explains. At the base of the sculpture are two swans which fill the narrative with themes of intuition, self-actualization, and love.
Cowan’s chocolate-colored Grotto of the Chocolate Nymph, is exhibited in the permanent collection of The Toledo Museum of Art and was inspired by Jan Brueghel the Elder’s painting A Fantastic Cave with Odysseus and Calypso in addition to the16th century Grotto Grande in the Boboli Gardens in Florence. “Chocolate Nymph” refers to “chocolate glass,” a popular glass color in the early 1900s that is no longer produced.
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Thousands of Shards of Glass Imitate Blurred Motion in a Towering Public Sculpture by Costas Varotsos
First completed in 1988, Dromeas or “The Runner,” is a 40-foot-tall public sculpture created by Greek artist Costas Varotsos. The densely layered work is formed from thousands of jagged shards of greenish-grey glass which are stacked around iron in the formation of a runner in motion. Originally the piece was installed in the Athens’s Omonia Square, but due to fear that it would topple from underground metro vibrations, in 1994 the city moved the piece to Megalis tou Genous Sholi square. When designing the sculpture, Varotsos considered which types of movement occur in these public spaces and how they might impact the viewing of his work.
“The position of people on the square is never fixed,” he explains. “As is the case with every city, here, too, objects and buildings are things you see while in motion. Rarely do you stop to look closely at something. Individuals observing the sculpture do so at two speeds, depending on where they are on the square: walking on the sidewalks or driving by in a car. The kind of space operating here is not only a purely visual one, but also one open to the sense of touch; one generating a tactile sensation.”
The ambiguous figure is meant to capture the exact moment one finishes a race—be that a literal translation of a marathon, or a more loose interpretation of conquering a challenging moment. You can see more of Varotsos’s public sculptures on his website. (via Atlas Obscura)
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Los Angeles-based artist Colin Roberts began creating pillows out of perspex, or plexiglass, in 2008. The solid imitations of typically plush objects are shaped to be dented and slumped which presents the illusion of softness despite their stiff composition. “I was inspired to use the pillow shape because it’s an object that is so common, yet as humans, we all have a special relationship to, without realizing it,” Roberts explains to Colossal. “A pillow is something every human can recognize and long for when needing rest. It represents comfort, rest, and sleep for our mind, body, and soul.”
The patchwork sculptures are often multi-colored and refract light like a mirrored disco ball. The artist’s work is currently being exhibited in the group exhibition Divided Brain at LAVA Projects in Los Angeles through December 16, 2018. You can see more of Roberts’s plexiglass sculptures on his website and Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)
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Artist David Chatt explores his past, family, and memories in all-white works created using found objects and minuscule white beads. Whereas earlier work was more purely decorative, like his colorful Breakfast Set (2004), over the last several years Chatt has simplified his color palette and plumbed the emotional depths of his life for more emotionally-engaged work.
In pieces created over the past several years, Chatt has drawn specifically from his personal and family history, selecting meaningful objects like a boombox from the early 1980s, the contents of his late parents’ nightstand, and the tools his mother used to create innumerable meals. Using glass beads and thread, the artist carefully covers each object, and he describes the act of covering as a means of both sealing off and protecting his memories. He shares with Colossal, “This process has the power to transform an object that, might as easily be relegated to land fill, into something precious and a record of a time, place or experience, something that encourages my audience to reflect on their own experiences and complete the story that I have begun.”
Chatt studied design at Western Washington University, Bellingham, in the late 1980s, where he recalls that a 6-foot-five male pursuing beadwork was not warmly embraced. Over the years, he has continued to refine his beadwork through post-secondary study. You can see work from Chatt in a group exhibition at Denmark’s Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in 2019, and in “A New State of Matter: Contemporary Glass” at Boise Art Museum in Idaho from November 3, 2018 to February 3, 2019, a group show which includes work from Steffan Dam (previously) and Amber Cowan (previously). (thnx, Diana!)
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Italian glass artist Lilla Tabasso captures the vitality of flowers in her delicate and precise botanical sculptures. Though a first thought would be to celebrate that Tabasso’s glass creations have the decorative advantage of never wilting, the artist depicts the full life cycle of blossoms and includes fading flowers alongside fresh ones. She often includes the word “Vanitas” in the titles of her sculptures that show decaying blossoms, a reference to the 17th-century Dutch still life painting genre that represents transience and death through symbolic objects. The artist crafts collapsed carnations with the same care that she renders seemingly perfect peony blossoms.
Tabasso’s scientifically accurate artwork is rooted in her background as a biologist. (You might also be interested in the scientific glasswork of 19-century father-son duo the Blaschkas.) In addition to her vase-based pieces, Tabasso also crafts jewelry and small installations, and has created work for Design Miami Basel and Vogue Italia. She is represented by Caterina Tognon gallery in Venice, Italy. You can see more of her work on Instagram.
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Glass sculptor Wesley Fleming creates life-size and anatomically correct sculptures of a variety of bizarre and well-known insects. The colorful creatures are small enough to balance gently on the tip of his finger, like a neon orange spider barely larger than his nail. The artist began working with the medium more than 15 years ago at the MIT Glass Lab and has pushed his technique ever since, learning flameworking, sculpting with borosilicate, and the Italian technique of sculpting soft glass on the Venetian island of Murano in 2005. You can see more of his work with insects and other creatures on his website and Instagram, and view glass sculptures for sale on Etsy. (thnx, Diana!)
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Glass artist Kim KototamaLune creates ethereal sculptures that resemble abstracted organic shapes and faces. She builds delicate glass grids without molds, which she then works into sculptural form and displays in darkened rooms. This presentation allows light to permeate, which both illuminates the sculptures from within and casts dramatic shadows on the surrounding walls.
The artist was born in Vietnam and now lives and works in France, and has studied multiple languages. Cultural identity, the origins of life, and in-between spaces play into her inspirations. KototamaLune shares with Colossal that she seeks to create an “uncharted territory in order to engage in a silent dialogue with the ‘strangers’ living in us. Those sculptures arise from the will to recover within each of us what is common in our fetal origins.'”
KototamaLune is represented by Da-End Galerie, with whom she’ll be showing work at the ASIA NOW art fair in Paris from October 17 – 21, 2018. You can also see her work through September 15, 2018 at Villa Tamaris Art Center in southern France. Discover more sculptures in KototamaLune’s portfolio on her website.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.