GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet: What are you working on?
Joanna Manousis: I’ve just finished a new body of work for a solo gallery exhibition now on view in Corning, New York. The show, entitled “Fertile Ground,” consists of three groupings of glass and mixed-media sculpture that interconnect symbolically and in their conceptual narrative. This is the first time I’ve incorporated taxidermy birds in my work in an effort to explore the relationship of what is real and what is mimicry. I have a tendency to re-appropriate objects that exist in the world as a device to lure and engage a universal audience. Through spatial configuration, context and material I use the information connected with these objects to bring about an extended dialogue.
Distilled Portrait I, II and III consists of three 10-inch-tall mason jars cast in solid clear glass that reveal the negative space of objects carefully selected to reflect, both literally and metaphorically the identities of three individuals. The interior cavities within each jar have a reflective mirrored surface that gives volume to the residue of each object and in turn reflects both the audience and the environment it inhabits. In Distilled Portrait I, a magpie sits on top of a jar peering intently at its reflection in three dimensions. Believed to be one of the most intelligent of all birds, the magpie is one of the few species known to be able to recognize itself in a mirror. Here, the bird represents the collector, who, like myself is drawn to those highly reflective mirrored surfaces that construct the foundations of selfhood in our formative years.
Along with the “Distilled Portrait” series, a full-size taxidermy peacock encrusted with clear crystal succulent cacti that look like they are growing from beneath the birds feathers stands in the foyer of the gallery space. The piece again intertwines notions of what is real and imaginary. The peacock itself acts as a fertile ground for the cacti growing out of it. Here both flora and fauna are a mere reflection of what the living entities once were.
GLASS: What have you experienced recently that has inspired you, and got you thinking about your own work?
Joanna: I’ve recently been drawn to the work of Petah Coyne who creates sculptural installations comprised of taxidermy and innovative materials soaked in wax. I enjoy Coyne’s seductive, decadent aesthetic and mastery of the materials she uses, which in turn feed into the dialogue of the work. She takes inspiration from common sources, such as film and literature, yet fabricates sculptural forms with a unique aesthetic personal to her.
Coyne works in multiples, combining them in to large-scale installations that envelop a space and scream for a viewer’s attention. I draw inspiration from Janine Antoni’s work for her sensitive approach to material and iconic use of imagery. Her piece, ‘Umbilical’, consists of an ornate solid silver spoon cast with the impression of a small child’s mouth and its mother’s finger print. Here a readily recognizable object is reconfigured in order to deliver a message. I like this twist.
GLASS: Where is it possible to see your own work?
Joanna: I am currently a resident artist at The Museum of Art and Design in New York City, and will be working in the museums open studio every Tuesday until the end of July 2012. Some of my pieces are featured in the museum on the sixth floor, so please come by should you be visiting the Columbus Circle area of Manhattan. I will also be a resident artist at The Corning Museum of Glass for the month of October this year and will be presenting a lunchtime lecture about my work on October 25th, 2012.
My new work is currently on view at Exhibit A Gallery in Corning through May 16th, 2012. I also have a small solo exhibition at Gravers Lane Gallery in Philadelphia, which runs through May 10th, and which highlights some of my earlier work. These include, an installation of glass lace, which was completed for the Bombay Sapphire Awards, 2008 held in the Via Tortona Design Festival, Milan. Reaching An Ulterior Realm, an installation of silvered glass mylar balloons will also be on display. This piece recently won top honors at the Urban Glass MFA Exhibition 2012, and was featured in the London Crafts Council show “Breath Taking,” which toured both the UK and Scotland from 2011 – 2012.
And, of course, my full portfolio of work can be seen at www.joannamanousis.com.