Art made from glass creates a sense of wonder for many who view it. From its mundane, everyday uses in our lives, to its translucent qualities, to the bright colors that can often be achieved through the medium, studio art glass holds the attention in a special way.
"The Matrix Series: Glass Art of Brent Kee Young," on view at the Canton Museum of Art, is a stunning collection of sculptural works. Young, a professor emeritus from the Cleveland Institute of Art and former head of its glass department, was inspired to make this body of work after looking at matrixes: A “matrix of a root ball from which the dirt has been shaken out. (Envision a rat’s nest of wiggly lines.) Also, there was a large pile of entangled rebar and building rubble from a razed building next door to my studio,” Young writes, describing the inspiration for his current research.
For this exhibit, Young has chosen five objects that represent forms from Asian and South American Huari cultures (Huari, or Wari, predated modern Peru by some 1,500 years). The pieces are made by flame-working borosilicate glass rods into layers of webs.
There is a familiarity to many of these objects because of the use of the clear glass to construct them. Through Young’s hands, they all are changed into something more than the objects they are inspired by; they have become studies in form and shape. A certain level of gravity, presence and even exultation of the original objects has transpired by transforming them into a matrix made of glass.
"Origins II …" is a complex construction of a vessel form. Even though the piece is made of glass rods, it still clearly reads as a vessel. The curvy and organic way it has been built clearly defines the surface, but because it's clear glass, you are able to see right through to the other side. It’s as if we are looking at the skeleton of an object, except that we know that there is no way the shapes and lines would be an actual internal skeleton.
It’s impressive to look at and even more impressive once you understand that the artist begins by attaching rods of glass to each other, then heating the rods up and and bending them, heating and bending, attaching and so on until the final form is achieved. Young has a background in engineering and a love of geometry. This part of his past comes through as the forms must take patience, a special understanding of the materials and how they can come together best visually.
"Artifact of the curious …" at first looks like a vessel or even a dumpling, but the object that inspired this work was is in reality from a part of an Asian millstone. However, defining the origin only acts as a gateway of understanding that brings you mentally into the sculptural form of the glass piece.
For this work, Young has produced a tighter matrix of glass for the interior structure of the piece and a looser matrix for the exterior. This effect allows you to understand the object better and moves your eye around it. Further, the transparency of the glass creates reflections and shadows that render the pedestal and area around each piece into an extension of the sculptures, amplifying them and bringing a level of unexpected texture and color.
What's most unusual about the show is that you get to see, up close and personal, how someone's life of artistic research can take shape and form. Young is highly collected over his long career, and these pieces show what a life dedicated to visual art can produce.
Contact Anderson Turner at email@example.com.