CONVERSATIONS IN GLASS

PHENOMENOLGY OF GLASS

The Phenomenology of Glass: Gerhard Richter’s Six Gray Mirrors

This talk will focus on a single work by Gerhard Richter to illuminate the dynamics of the encounter in contemporary installation art.  Richter’s Six Gray Mirrors (2008, DIA Collection, Beacon, NY) negotiates the two-dimensional plane, three-dimensional object, and four-dimensional time.  This recent glass project will be viewed through a number of critical lenses—material, historical, biographical—and then will focus on a phenomenological reading that centers on our bodily encounter with the art object.  In doing so, this talk offers a case study in how to articulate recent installation art.

SKILL AND DESKILLING:HOW DUCHAMP INFORMS CONTEMPORARY ART

Marcel Duchamp’s work shadows every debate on skill in the current art world.  His much-celebrated readymades (so called because they were “already manufactured”) forms a major part of his legacy. Yet Duchamp, at the same moment he was undermining artistic skill and technical proficiency with his readymade objects, was working on The Large Glass, a multi-year project that demanded attention to handwork.  This talk explores Duchamp’s engagement with skill during the 1910s and 20s. Further, I will track his influence on post-war avant-garde practice and examine his resonance today.  In particular, I will explore how Duchamp presents an intriguing, yet problematic framework for current craft and craft-based practices.     

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1962: ALTERNATIVE HISTORIES

The recent celebration surrounding the 50th anniversary of studio glass art movement highlighted the groundbreaking achievements of Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino.  This talk outlines a series of alternative genesis stories for contemporary glass artists.  In addition to Toledo, I will propose several other sites for glass art’s Eden: New York, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. The 1960s and 70s offer compelling antecedents for current glass practice in the investigation of surface and materiality, performance and the object. 

"THE NEW LOOK": DIOR, VENINI AND JOSIAH MCELHENY

McElheny’s work cannily navigates the categories of art, craft, and design.  Over the course of two decades, he has engaged in an ongoing conversation with modernity. The artist’s interest in, and conceptual manipulation of, critically under-represented areas of (such as fashion) is key to his achievement along with his technical abilities.  This talk is a case study of ambition, specifically, the concepts and strategies that one artist used to achieve success beyond the glass community.

TEACHING CONTEMPORARY GLASS ART

Prompted by the Glass Art Society’s 2016 conference in nearby Corning, I recently created a course on contemporary glass art.  Over an intensive, three-week period, the students took a material traverse of recent glass practices, viewing contemporary work through a number of critical, curatorial, and historical lenses. A central component of this class was the student’s participation in the annual Glass Art Society’s conference, “Creating Context: Glass in a New Light.” This international gathering allowed students to experience first-hand professional lectures and technical demonstrations, thematic panels and special exhibitions.