Jane Rosen & Ann Hollingsworth
Form and Place
October 1-November 10, 2013
Seager Gray Gallery presents Form and Place, an exhibition of sculpture and drawings by artist Jane Rosen and works in kiln cast crystal by sculptor Ann Hollingsworth. The exhibition runs from October 1 through November 10. A reception for the artists will take place on Friday, October 4 from 5 to 7pm. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with essay by Maria Porges.
Form and Place has been nearly 2 years in the planning and the results have been worth the wait! The two artists met when Hollingsworth took a workshop given at Rosen’s studio several years ago. Hollingsworth, impressed with the stone bird sculptures and amazing drawings she encountered suggested that she might work with cast crystal. With Hollingsworth’s assistance, Rosen began the lengthy trial and error that led to the kiln cast birds seen in the exhibition. As usual, the artist brought her own sensibilities to the medium, incorporating stone carving techniques in the mix. Rosen is a master of materials and hones her skills through hard physical work until she is able to realize her clear vision and that vision nearly always begins with drawing.
In conversation recently, Rosen offered this quote from Constantin Brancusi,
"When you see a fish, you do not think of its scales do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water…. Well, I’ve tried to express just that. If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement and hold you by a pattern or a shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit..."
“ I think I start with drawing as it is studying / learning,” said the artist “and through drawing, I can sometimes find my way to the flash of its spirit. For me, through the posture and or gesture comes a presence that I have spent my life trying to represent. “
From the catalog essay by Maria Porges:
A Brooklyn native, Rosen studied at New York University and then the Art Student’s League in the early 70s. Birds appear in her work as early as that same decade, in the form of abstracted wall-hung heads, which evolved gradually into freestanding figures in the ‘80s. She became interested in raptors through staying with a friend who ran a raptor rescue center in upstate New York, even requiring her students to ‘adopt’ one the birds and help care for it—and draw it--as part of a class requirement.
But after twenty years of living and working in New York City, Rosen wanted to go “where nature was bigger than culture,” as she has put it. During what was intended to be a sabbatical break, she crossed the country to live for a few months on a friend’s horse ranch near San Gregorio, a few miles south of the Bay Area. In this area of extraordinary natural beauty, she found herself watching the birds—the hawks that wheel and float on the currents of warm and cool air that rise from the ground at different times of day, the ravens and crows, the darting swallows. She remembers seeing a hawk on the first day at the ranch. . .For a decade she shuttled back and forth between both coasts, but finally sold her NY loft to settle on her own California ranch.
The works in this exhibition include examples of Rosen’s work featuring birds in a range of media-- drawing, prints and glass sculpture. For the last 15 years, she has made three-dimensional pieces predominantly in this difficult but rewarding medium, directing talented glass blower Ross Richmond. Sleek forms like Praying Raven (2012) are created out of the hot, semi-liquid material and treated with glass pigments and marble dust. Each piece begins with Rosen’s drawings, but evolves over the session, during which Richmond gradually creates the form that she envisions as she stands nearby, often with a tool to help.
The resulting birds are both highly specific and abstracted, delicate and invincible -- as if seen from a distance: the way we most often do encounter them, either at rest or in the air. Like the Egyptian falcons Rosen visited in her weekly trips to the Met, these birds are archetypes, embodying the fundamental characteristics of bird-ness.
Hollingsworth’s preferred technique for working with glass
is casting, rather than blowing. The two methods, radically different in approach to the same material, generate qualities that are equally distinct. Blown pieces are made by gathering liquid glass on the end of a long metal pipe out of a hot furnace and shaping it skillfully with tools over a matter of an hour or two, and have a smoothness of form that reflects their origins in fire. Cast glass begins as a sculpture made out of some other material, from which a mold is made. Wax is then poured into that mold to make a replica of the original; after this first mold is removed, a refractory shell is built around the wax version, out of which the wax is then steamed or burned. This shell-mold is placed in a kiln and glass is slowly melted into it, over several hours or even days. After cooling, the mold material is cleaned off; the resulting sculpture can be angular or round, rough or smooth.
Hollingsworth studied casting at California College of the Arts, where she returned to school in the early 2000s to complete her education. Her spiky, luminous glass nests are metaphors. Their forms, invoking the intricate, twiggy constructions assembled by hawks or eagles, are perched on greenish, icy-looking slabs of glass or rough wooden blocks, stone boulders or plinths, all of which suggest a resting place between worlds—as if these complicated masses of translucent ‘twigs’ are portals, glowing from within as the glass captures light.
Hollingsworth has remarked that people should have
to build their own nests, as a way of learning how to be
in nature. Studying a work like Ice Plant and Night Sea (2013) suggests what kind of knowledge we might absorb through such an exercise. The spear-shaped pieces out of which it is woven almost seem to be conjured out of ice itself, an impression enhanced by the glossy, amberish pooling inside the center of the structure. A nest like this embodies the idea of a transitional moment-- between liquid and solid, sleep and wakefulness. It also suggests that anywhere can be a place to rest and find comfort.
For more information please contact:
23 Sunnyside Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941