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Richard Jolley: Sculptor of Glass

March 6 - May 9, 2004


The first retrospective exhibition highlighting the bold and intricate work of one of this country's leading glass sculptors Richard Jolley, is being presented at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, March 6 - May 9, 2004. The exhibition, organized by the Knoxville Museum of Art, comprises dozens of objects dating from 1984 to the present. It is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue. (right: Richard Jolley, Extravagant, 1993, glass, 14-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 9 inches, Collection of the artist) 

Richard Jolley: Sculptor of Glass chronicles the dynamic evolution of Jolley's art over much of the past two decades. While the retrospective focuses on Jolley's work in glass, offering an overview of the artist's classically inspired figurative glass sculptures, it also looks at his achievements in other mediums, including monoprints, woodcuts, paintings, and bronze. Also on view are Jolley's newest mixed-media works which reveal a continuation of the artist's interest in experimentation, and stand as a powerful counterpoint to the boldly modeled glass sculptures for which he is best known.

Jolley's breakthrough technique (from the 1980s) of modeling hot glass in his work is thoroughly examined in and illustrated by fifteen of the objects in the exhibition. Using a propane torch, the artist melted colored canes or threads of glass and applied them to clear glass pieces, producing fluid images reminiscent of Matisse. During that same period, he also produced an enchanting series of simply modeled nudes in which a flowing blue line on a translucent ground defines the essential face and form. The exhibition follows Jolley's work into the 1990s, showing his move towards stark monochromatic busts that later developed into large torsos enlivened by gesturing arms and hands. From there, Jolley's work evolved into his groundbreaking totem series in the 1990s, with pieces incorporating many of his signature elements-heads, busts, torsos, and animals. In his latest series, Tabula Rasa, he experiments with spontaneous free forms, allowing his art to lead him in entirely new directions.

"It's always a matter of pushing the boundaries, of stretching the limits," explains Jolley. " The ideal is to transcend technology with the statement, to move beyond the materials and the process. What I am trying to do is to achieve humanistic art." (left: Richard Jolley, Still Life with Photo, Fruit and Fish Vase, 1989, glass, 10-1/4 x 7-3/4 x 2 inches, Collection of the artist)

Jolley's work has appeared in numerous one-man shows and in group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. He is represented in many public collections, including those of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (formerly the American Craft Museum), New York, NY; the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles, CA; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA; the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan; and the International Glasmuseum, Ebeltoft, Denmark. The artist lives and works in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Richard Jolley will be discussing his work with exhibition curator Steven C. Wicks in a public presentation at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 18 in the museum's auditorium. Part of the Morris Museum's Terra Cognita: Contemporary Artists Lecture Series, the lecture will be followed by a reception and book-signing.


Following is the gallery brochure text:


Over the course of his twenty-seven-year career, Richard Jolley has produced a remarkable body of work that explores the human figure-its timeless beauty and expressive potential. Jolley's art falls into distinct series, each serving as a stage in his evolution toward increasingly evocative and technically challenging forms. Richard Jolley: Sculptor of Glass, the artist's first museum retrospective, surveys these developments in depth, including a recent body of large-scale mixed-media work that marks a turning point in the career of one of the Southeast's most accomplished figurative sculptors.

Jolley spent much of his childhood in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and became fascinated with sculpting glass as a student at Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee. Since 1975, he has maintained a studio in West Knoxville, where he continues to create glass sculpture notable for its inventiveness and sophistication. He is represented in public and private collections across the country.

Richard Jolley: Sculptor of Glass is the first museum exhibition to assemble key objects from every phase of the artist's career, including related prints, bronzes, and mixed-media works. The objects included in the exhibition were executed between 1984 and 2002 and represent key examples of Jolley's Vessels (1979-85), Monoliths (1985-87), Line Drawings (1985-90), Busts (1990-94), prints, bronzes and other media (1992-present), Torsos (1994-96), Totems (1994-2001), mixed-media constructions (1997-present), and Tabula Rasa (2001-present). Unwavering throughout this evolution is the artist's focus on the human figure as an alluring, infinitely complex form offering endless possibilities for interpretation and expression.

This exhibition was organized by the Knoxville Museum of Art in cooperation with Richard Jolley. This gallery guide was written by Stephen C. Wicks, exhibition curator.

Vessels (1979-85) and Monoliths (1985-87): Jolley's two earliest series consist of relatively small, transparent forms on which narrative images are drawn with flowing lines of colored glass. The Vessels provide a ground for playful scenes of Americana ranging from painterly domestic interiors to contour-drawn views of outdoor life. The Monoliths reflect his continuing interest in line and narrative figure groups as well as his new preference for solid masses of transparent glass that loosely echo the sculptural volumes of each subject.

Line Drawings (1985-90): Jolley's interest in exploring sculptural volume is evident in the rounded forms of elegant figures in clear glass whose features are defined by delicate blue lines. Extraneous formal and narrative elements are gradually eliminated to emphasize the classical purity of the human figure.

Busts (1990-94): The restrained emotion and minimal color of the Line Drawings series gradually gave way to heads featuring active expressions, bold colors, and occasional adornments, especially as the series matured. Acid-etched surfaces and increasingly intricate features soon replaced the highly reflective surfaces and overall simplicity of the earliest Busts.

Prints, Bronzes, and Other Media (1992-present): Around 1992, Jolley delved into printmaking as a two-dimensional avenue for the investigation of ideas related to his sculpture. He also began producing bronze versions of selected Busts and experimented with scale as well as surface treatment.

Torsos (1994-96): Evident in Jolley's dynamic, highly animated Torsos are the artist's technical proficiency and the immediacy of his sculpting process. Limbs and facial features are positioned to imply moods, states of mind, and nonverbal communication.

Totems (1994 -2001): In 1994, Jolley launched a body of work in which his Torsos and Busts were placed within columnar groupings. While the earliest Totems are relatively small and simple in design and color, the series soon evolved into large, elaborate arrangements of various, boldly colored elements.

Mixed-Media Constructions (1997-present): This series provided him with a stimulating foil to sculpted glass and an opportunity to refine his skills in other media. The sculpturally articulated figures and rich color so integral to his previous series are abandoned in favor of anonymous, enigmatic male silhouettes made of cast glass or sheet metal.

Tabula Rasa (2001-present): This series marked Jolley's return to exploring ideas within the boundaries of glass alone. Works in the series consist of an attenuated disc supported by a cylindrical base. Serene human faces, birds, and plant motifs are incised into the discs in shallow relief. Jolley uses a grinder on each base to create hand-wrought textures that resemble hammered metal or chiseled wood.



All events and programs are held at the Morris Museum of Art. Call 706-724-7501 for more information.



Thursday, March 18, 2004

Richard Jolley and exhibition curator Stephen C. Wicks discuss the current exhibit. A meet-the-artist reception follows the program. 7:00 p.m.



Friday, March 19, 2004

Enjoy a gallery talk by artist Richard Jolley. Boxed lunch available, or bring your own brown-bag lunch. Noon.



Sunday, March 7, 2004

Join Richard Jolley for a family-oriented tour of his exhibition followed by a hands-on drawing workshop led by Richard and his wife, artist Tommie Rush. 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 4, 2004

Tour the Richard Jolley: Sculptor of Glass exhibition, then the entire family can make monoprints in the museum's activity room. 2:00 p.m.



Saturday, March 13, 2004

Learn about the exciting art form of glassblowing from Mike Janke, Atlanta-based artist and owner of Janke Studios, then tour the Richard Jolley: Sculpture of Glass exhibit. 2:00-4:00 p.m.

rev. 12/30/03

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