You may recognize the haunting tones of the rare glass armonica if you are a Björk or Pink Floyd fan. With a sound like a cross between a theremin, a melodica, and the howling wind, only a handful of accomplished glass armonica players exist today. Cecilia Brauer, an acclaimed glass armonica musician, will play at the opening reception of “Glass and Thread,” an exhibit opening tonight at the WAH Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that merges two craft media with the aim of bringing them to the foreground of the contemporary art world.
It’s fitting that curator Renee B. Radenberg should choose to showcase the talent required to dominate a musical instrument that exists only on the fringe. She admits she left her interpretation of the exhibit’s concept wide open. “I kind of stretch [the definition of] textile, as I use an artist who crochets, but with copper wire. And I tried to show the whole realm of how glass is presented – kiln, blown, stained, traditional and non-traditional methods,” said Radenberg in a phone interview.
In her own art, Radenberg relies heavily on found glass objects from the past decade, hunting for scraps and recyclables. Recently, however, after studying at UrbanGlass, she has found herself drawn more to the technical process and the myriad methods in which both glass and textiles can be exploited, at times simultaneously. Artist Aimee Hertog has fused bits of broken glass into thick, almost rope-like yarn, and another, Jeanne Heifetz, sought a new purpose for the strikers used in glass kiln work. “She literally takes them, without melting them, and attaches them to this stainless steel netting. They’re not big, but they’re incredible,” explained Radenberg.
Another artist uses lace doused in resin to create free-standing textile sculpture, while many adopt non-traditional quilting or “fiber art” to display images and scenes out of fabrics. “We’ve found the two mediums really complement each other…and [WAH Founder] Yuko Nii says this is the first time we’ve ever shown fiber artists with glass artists,” said Radenberg.
While not a brand new concept (devoted readers will remember our coverage of Laura Donefer’s fashion show for the Glass Art Society and the Craft 2 Wear exhibit at the Smithsonian), the merging of textile and glass as fine art remains rare.
The exhibition runs through January 15th, 2012, with two artist demonstrations on Sunday, December 18th from 1 to 4 PM, and Sunday, January 8th from 1 to 4 PM. The closing reception will take place Sunday, January 15th from 1 to 4 PM as well, but Cecilia Brauer’s performance is a one-night engagement.
IF YOU GO:“Glass and Thread” at the WAH Center December 9, 2011 – January 15, 2012 Opening Reception: December 9, 6-8pm Glass Armonica performance by Cecilia Brauer: December 9, 8-930 pm (Admission: $8) GALLERY HOURS
Wednesday – Friday 1 – 5 PM
Saturday & Sunday 1 – 6 PM WAH Center (Williamsburg Art and Historical Center) 135 Broadway (corner Bedford Avenue) Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY 11211 (718) 486-6012