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ORIGINAL VOICES 2016
October 7 - November 30, 2016
The artists in this exhibition strain against convention, pushing the boundaries of both physics and technical expertise. Originality of style and fresh approaches to familiar challenges are common characteristics among the works on display. These are very well trained artists who continuously reflect on the integrity and meaning of their work and who take heart that in the uncertain present only a commitment to the work can carry the day and provide a way forward.
Steven Ciezki is the sole glass blower in the exhibition. While this young artist is already known for the quality of his traditional technical skill, especially his Reticello, Steven pushes hard to bring concept and meaning to his most ambitious works. The monumental three-part sculpture entitled Roses explores the tragic legacy of the terrible four-year siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War by juxtaposing elegant large scale blown forms that have been “marred” by a splash of bright red glass that evokes an image of violence.
Robert Hickman works in Brooklyn, NY and has the distinction of having created an installation made up of over a million hand cut pieces of glass. The award-winning work is on permanent exhibit at the 72nd Street MTA station. The installation is the artist’s most ambitious take on his exploration of optics and refraction. The work on display in this exhibition, the commanding Untitled from 2003 which is made up of hundreds of hand-cut pieces of mirror, led to the creation of DDII which at 42 feet long has an unapologetically pyrotechnic presence. In addition to the artist’s on-going practice of producing installations Hickman also produces intimately scaled works that are marked by an austere subtlety.
Kate Clements has created one of the most unique objects we’ve ever had the honor to exhibit in the gallery. The breath-taking fragility of Wall from 2013 is matched by the work’s incredible scale and complexity. Properly lit in the gallery setting the work is captivating and irresistible. Clements is fusing glass, willfully pushing the physical attributes of the material to create the objects she is envisioning. In addition to very large wall pieces like the one in our exhibition the artist creates flame-worked objects that play on notions of luxury and adornment.
Jacob Fishman is renowned in the neon community but until the recent revival in interest in neon the artist has been satisfied working on large scale fabrication and repair projects. With the resurgence of neon Fishman is enjoying the renewed interest in his own artworks which incorporate pithy phrases associated with an existentialist (and humorous) world view. WYSIWYG and It Is What It Is do express the same kind of forlorn apathy for contemporary life hidden in a jokey motto that everyone gets.
Kit Paulson charges her works with an intensity that springs from deep inside the imagination of this extremely talented artist. Paulson creates vaguely nostalgic artworks that seem to be props for an absurdist play. The artist’s personal history is marked by struggle and hope and the sculpture she produces dances on the knife’s edge between strange and wonderful. Paulson’s bonnets and gauntlet/gloves are extremely detailed riffs on feminine adornment while her helmet and plague mask have sinister presences made all the uncannier because the flame-working process reminds the viewer of very intricate and delicate lace.
Curating our somewhat annual Original Voices exhibition is one of the treats of owning an art gallery. Summoning my powers as a sleuth while cultivating the most open mind; the sense of discovery and wonder I feel today is as strong as it was when I made my first awe-stricken studio visits nearly forty years ago.
Ken Saunders 2016
Featuring works by:
& Kit Paulson
DISCONTINUOUS | blown glass | variable dimensions | Steven Ciezki, 2016
WALL | kiln-fired glass | 96 x 96 x .25 inches | Kate Clements, 2015
IT IS WHAT IT IS | neon | variable dimensions | Jacob Fishman, 2016
UNTITLED | mirrored glass | Robert Hickman, 2016
CARAPACE II | kiln-fired glass | Kit Paulson, 2016
Photo Credit: Andrew Calise
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© Ken Saunders Gallery, 2019 | 230 West Superior Street Chicago, IL 60654