'SPECTRUM' Explores
an Underrated Medium

In Anno Domini's stunning new exhibit, SPECTRUM, glass is literally and
metaphorically transformed in ways both unorthodox and unconventional
Glass Heart HEART OF GLASS: Roberta Eichenberg's 'Knotted Heart' is one of 50 pieces of glass-based art on display at Anno Domini's new exhibit.

In Anno Domini's stunning new exhibit, SPECTRUM, glass is literally and metaphorically transformed in ways both unorthodox and unconventional, forcing the viewer to radically alter their perception of what can be done with the medium.

At first glance, the exhibition seems to have nothing to do with glass. Strictly speaking, almost nothing on display actually looks like the material as we usually encounter it. However, upon closer inspection, the possibilities of expression through the often underrated medium seem endless: a ring pop, robot figurines, a human heart, abstract shapes, interactive designs and a wrench you'd have to drop before realizing it's not metal.

Living up to the SPECTRUM name, each piece of art is a world unto its own. In terms of the medium, the exhibit goes beyond the plausible into the seemingly impossible, with eye-popping sculptures and installations, which contain elements of folk art, abstractionism, surrealism, expressionism, futurism and other art movements.

One of the wonders of the show is the scale. No piece is more than a couple feet tall. But that only makes the art—seen in its minute but labyrinthine detail—even more compelling. The result is like visiting tiny glass worlds.

Even the conventional works—vases, and other types of pottery demonstrate an undeniably singular and imaginative approach. Glass droplets impossibly dangling within a larger piece of glass, a ray gun, a miniature life-like picnic table, scenes etched into glass—these are just a few of the 50 pieces on display.

How the artists arrived at all these possibilities is a story in itself—one of meticulous and laborious work. Using everything from neon glass, to glass infused with metal, the artists created a set of strange and unique pieces. The methods of creation are radical in their own right. Etching in glass, cold-working, hot-working, staining; it's a brain-shattering combination of experiments—equal parts science, art and alchemy.

The variety of content is also reflected in the artists themselves. Everyone from art students of glass to established—if not notable—artists are featured in SPECTRUM. Artists as far flung as Japan and New York have work in the show. However, a good portion of the exhibitors, including curators Valerie Pohorsky and Jonathan Yao, are San Jose State University alumni.

The curators' pieces are very different from each other. Pohorsky's "Cadi Cruiser," a hooded cat riding a lobster, is both colorful and playfully crafted. By comparison Yao's piece is an opaque, crystal-colored vasiform sculpture embossed with intricate designs. While all of the works are fascinating worlds-within-themselves, some of the most notable pieces include Anna Mlasowsky's "Next to Nothing," in which a hidden message is revealed by breathing on a small strip of glass; Biagio Scarpello's "Convey Condensed," an assembly line-like installation of moving glass spheres; and Roberta Eichenberg's "Twisted Heart," a human heart cast in murky glass.

"We have the liberty to show these works," Anno Domini's co-owner, Cherri Lakey says, speaking to her gallery's willingness to take a chance on a show like SPECTRUM, with it's myriad artists and outside-the-box composition.

That willingness to push the boundaries is something that the SPECTRUM curators and featured artists Valerie Pohorksy and Jonathan Yao understand. "They took a risk on us and we're incredibly grateful," says Pohorsky.

Beyond providing exposure, the exhibition gives artists the a chance to build relationships with their contemporaries around the world. That's a valuable opportunity for those who work with glass. The medium requires collaboration: an average of 2-6 people are needed to help in the creation of each piece. "Glass is always one of those things where people need to help you," Pohorsky says.

Pohorsky and Yao are graduates of, and now collaborators in, The Pilchuck Glass School—an internationally-renowned institution north of Seattle. So are many of SPECTRUM's contributing artists. According to the curators, Seattle has a burgeoning glass-blowing community, populated by a variety of artisans and fine artists.

The scene surrounding the school is a bit more like a mason carvers union than an artistic collective, Yao says, comparing it to a "fraternal order." This is due both to the nature of working with glass, and the way the mainstream art world views the medium—as home decor or utilitarian, as opposed to fine art. SPECTRUM demonstrates just how wrong that viewpoint is by shattering all preconceptions about what a glass art exhibit can be.


Thru June 13


Anno Domini

"SPECTRUM" runs concurrent with the upcoming 44th International Glass Art Conference, June 5-7, in downtown San Jose.

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