OUTGROWTH: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MUSEUM'S COLLECTIONS

February 9, 2012 – April 21 2013

Organized by Museum of Glass

For the first quarter-century after its birth in 1962, the American Studio Glass movement remained a fairly small, close-knit community. In an effort to bring in new approaches and ideas, Pilchuck Glass School began inviting artists from outside the glass world to participate in the residency program beginning in 1984. Similarly, the Museum of Glass Hot Shop has hosted a wide variety of artists from many different backgrounds since it opened in 2002, including architects, poets, ceramicists, and public art sculptors, in addition to self-identifying glass artists. What was the effect of this concerted effort to broaden the movement? What kinds of artworks ‘grew out’ of the new diversity?

Outgrowth offers a preliminary answer to these questions, suggesting that one of the guiding principles to the creation of new work after the mid-1980s was (and continues to be) an emphasis on content – on the imaginative ideas behind the piece, often in reference to a broad art historical tradition culminating in contemporary trends. The return of a Pop-Art design aesthetic (popularized by Andy Warhol) is evident in the variety of banal, often brightly-colored, consumer-oriented objects like Styrofoam cups, high-heeled shoes, and Q-tips. Collective memory and nostalgia are also strong focal points, as is the reliance on data, technology, and scientific information. Nature appears as a hybrid of both natural and artificial parts, dependent on human caretakers. Perhaps, rather than relying so much on the inherent beauty of glass, many of these artists hope at the same time to explore the material as a primary metaphor for contemporary culture.

“Although technique remains vital, Outgrowth demonstrates a concerted effort to create work that is rich in content, appealing to an audience beyond the tradition of Studio Glass,” comments staff curator David Francis. “This exhibition allows us to showcase applications of glass as a medium that our visitors may find surprising—something that is key to the Museum’s mission.”

The exhibition includes 34 works, some created in the Museum Hot Shop during Visiting Artist residencies and others gifted to the Museum from artists or collectors. Outgrowth also features the return of Joseph Gregory Rossano’s Mirrored Murrelets, previously exhibited outside in the mid-level pool at the Museum (2008 – 2010) and recently donated to the museum, this time with the bird’s’ DNA barcode projected as a backdrop and a QR code with external links to a documentary film. (For more information on Marbled Murrelets, click here).

In 2012, Rossano donated about 100 of the best murrelets in time for 45 of them to become part of the 2013 exhibition Outgrowth: Selections from Museum of Glass Collections. As part of their move indoors, the birds also acquired a projection of their DNA barcode as well as a QR code linking to a documentary film, continuing Rossano’s exploration of multi-media installations conveying important scientific truths.

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Image credits:

Deborah Oropallo, (American, born 1954). Untitled (from the Under Fire Series), 2002 Blown glass, molded plastic; 24 x 12 x 7 inches. Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA. Gift of the artist. Photo by Duncan Price.

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