GLASS: What are you working on?
Shelley Muzylowski Allen: I’m currently working on an installation of blown and solid glass components that’ll be mostly wall-mounted with the inclusion of some pedestal pieces. This work was originally inspired by the 15th-century large-scale tapestries, The Lady and the Unicorn, which I first saw in a book and then in person more than 20 years ago. I’ve been coveting them ever since. This past fall I started to work with the imagery—the flora and fauna–I saw in the weaving. To realize this two-dimensional idea with three-dimensional life-sized components has been extremely satisfying. It’s as if I’m actually able to step into and surround myself with the work.
GLASS: What artwork have you seen recently that inspired you?
Shelley: I started to think of glass as a medium for installation when I saw Les Ombres by Christian Boltanski – the transportation of light, movement and use of shadows were very hypnotic and surprising. I spent an entire day in the museum looking at this work. Another artist, Mayme Kratz, uses natural materials, seductive resin surfaces and rhythmic composition I find equally meditative and motivating. When I first saw her work I was struck by its rawness and intimate nature. She had placed a little bird in a wooden box (it had hit her window and died), and its wings were attached to tiny cables strung inside the box which held them open in flight. These lines gave the bird a formal or architectural quality. This piece started my thinking about the object and how it can monumentally transformed by its environment.
GLASS: Where is it possible to see your work on exhibit?
Shelley: I’ve got an exhibition, A Natural Order, at the Traver Gallery in Tacoma which opens July 11th and runs through August 9th. I’ll have portions of the tapestry-inspired wall installation as well as pedestal pieces in that show. I’ve recently been reading the zoological compilation, The History of Four-footed Beasts, by Edward Topsell. The writing and woodcuts of these mythological and actual creatures are fascinating and some are finding their way into freestanding pieces that will also be exhibited in this show.