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Fusing Traditions: Transformations in Glass by Native American Artists

May 7 - July 24, 2005

 

 

(above: Wayne G. Price, Tingit Bear Visions, 2002, carved red cedar, glass acrylic, 7 x 7 inches. Photograph by M. Lee Fatheree, Oakland, CA. Courtesy of Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, CA. Used with permission.)

 

The Rockwell Museum of Western Art will present, as one of four special exhibitions this year, Fusing Traditions: Transformations in Glass by Native American Artists May 7 - July 24, 2005. Complementing the Rockwell Museum's broad permanent collection of Native American art, this exhibition introduces the first generation of Native American studio glass artists. These eighteen artists fuse cultural heritage and individual creativity into dazzling new glass forms. This traveling exhibition features thirty-seven artworks and was organized by the Museum of Craft & Folk Art (MOCFA) in San Francisco, California. The exhibit will open with a reception at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6th at the Rockwell Museum.

 

Meet the Artists:

Fusing Traditions recognizes an important artistic movement that began in the 1970s when Tony Jojola (Isleta Pueblo) first experimented in glass at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Most recently, Preston Singletary (Tlingit) realized his dream when a cedar totem pole with glass and neon components was raised at the Pilchuck Glass School in celebration of the school's thirtieth anniversary. Influenced by their experience at the glass school, master carvers Joe David (Nuu-cha-nulth), John Hagen (Alaskan Native), and Wayne Price (Tlingit), began to experiment with glass in their subsequent art. This artistic exchange demonstrates the strength of the ties between the Pilchuck Glass School and the vigor of the Native American artists who have studied there. The movement continues, as both Jojola and Singletary teach Native students in Seattle and Taos. Two of Singletary's students are represented in the exhibition. The artwork of Robert Tannahill (Mohawk/Metis) and Brian Barber (Pawnee) have broken with the functional and decorative origins of glass to create enigmatic and authoritative forms based in their cultural traditions. Both artists are working in a cultural realm where the visible is not always legible to the uninitiated, yet even the culturally initiated will find these figures in glass startlingly new. (right: Preston Singletary, Raven Steals the Moon, 2002, blown and sand carved glass, 16 1/2 x 9 inches. Photograph by M. Lee Fatheree, Oakland, CA. Courtesy of Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, CA. Used with permission.)

In Fusing Traditions, cultural art forms -- beadwork, pottery, masks, spindle whorls, dance wands, and hats -- are reinvigorated and re-imagined. Preston Singletary and Susan Point (Coast Salish) use the strong Northwest Coast imagery of their cultures to create revolutionary new glass forms in sand blasted and carved glass. Tony Jojola transforms pottery shapes into light-filled blown glass vessels. Drawing from American popular culture, Marcus Amerman's (Choctaw) glass-bead art relocates Native American art in the twenty-first century. The exhibition also includes the artwork of Larry Ahvakana (Inupiaq), Michael Carius (Siberian Y'upic), Conrad House (Navajo), Clarissa Hudson (Tlingit), Ramson Lomatewama (Hopi), Ed Archie NoiseCat (Salish), Marvin Oliver (Quinalt), Shaun Peterson (Salish), and C. S. Tarpley (Choctaw). The neon artwork of David Svenson , a non-Native American, is featured in this exhibition at the request of his students who honor him. He has been an influential teacher at the Pilchuck Glass School for many of the Native artists.

Museum of Craft and Folk Art and Exhibit Background:

The exhibition, organized by the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco, California with co-curators Carolyn Kastner and Roslyn Tunis, will travel for two years. The Los Angeles Museum of Craft and Folk Art , the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History , the Anchorage Museum of Art and History in Alaska, the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, Alaska and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Connecticut will host the exhibition from 2003 to 2005.

The companion catalogue, Fusing Traditions: Transformations in Glass by Native American Artists, interprets the cross-cultural development of these studio artists, who draw from their individual cultural roots to create a new language of American art in glass. The 92-page catalogue features a foreword by the distinguished glass artist William Morris, color plates of the artwork, artist biographies, and four essays. Leading scholars, artists, and curators trace the history of studio glass art in the United States and the context of the emergence of this movement in American art. This catalogue will be available through the Rockwell Museum of Western Art or the MOCFA website at www.mocfa.org

The Museum of Craft & Folk Art (MOCFA) promotes the understanding and ppreciation of human expression, ranging from utilitarian objects to contemporary art. This is accomplished through innovative exhibitions of craft and folk art from cultures past and present, educational programs, and publications. (left: Michael Carius, Emperor Goose Clan Drummer, 1999, hot sculpted glass, forged steel, 12 x 7 x 6 inches. Photograph by M. Lee Fatheree, Oakland, CA. Courtesy of Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, CA. Used with permission.)

The Museum of Craft & Folk Art (formerly the San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum) was founded in 1983 and is the only museum of its kind in northern California. Its unique exhibition program is dedicated to contemporary craft, American folk art, and traditional cultural art. For 20 years, the Museum has offered acclaimed exhibitions, educational programs, and publications dedicated to the understanding of human expression, ranging from utilitarian objects to contemporary art. The Museum presents innovative and enlightening exhibitions that challenge conventional definitions of art. Changing exhibitions are complemented by a gift shop featuring handmade objects respecting the Museum's focus. The Museum of Craft & Folk Art School Program offers hands-on presentations that introduce Bay Area children to the central role of folk art in traditional cultures around the world.

Fusing Traditions has been generously supported by Dorothy & George Saxe, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.

 

Exhibition wall texts:

 

FUSING TRADITIONS
Transformations in Glass by Native American Artists
 
You don't have anything if you don't have the stories. - Leslie Marmon Silko
 
Fusing Traditions: Transformations in Glass by Native American Artists features the work of eighteen artists who fuse cultural heritage and individual creativity in dazzling new glass forms that expand the language of American art. This first generation of Indian artists working in glass came to the medium one by one. Together they comprise a powerful artistic movement rooted in the tradition and place of their Native cultures. As they experimented with the properties of glass -- its ability to assume any form, its translucence, its permanence -- each one brought something new to the medium's formal language. Together they have transformed the genre of glass art. This exhibition, organized by the Museum of Craft & Folk Art in San Francisco, brings the work of these artists together for the first time.
 
The most mature of these artists have been working in glass for more than twenty years, yet this exhibition marks the first time that their art has been exhibited together. As a group they are reinvigorating and re-imagining cultural art forms - beadwork, pottery, masks, spindle whorls, and dance wands. Inspired by the pottery and basket shapes of the Southwest, Tony Jojola (Isleta Pueblo) and Ramson Lomatewama (Hopi) create light-filled blown glass vessels. Jojola also invokes his personal past when he uses his grandfather's jewelry-making tools to embellish his vessels. Conrad House's (Navajo) singular vision inspires art for new traditions and rituals, like that of C. S. Tarpley (Choctaw/Chickasaw), who consciously fuses many cultures to create his vessels, and Marcus Amerman (Choctaw), who relocates American Indian beadwork in the twenty-first century by layering images of American popular culture. Preston Singletary (Tlingit), Susan Point (Coast Salish), Ed Archie NoiseCat (Salish), Shaun Peterson (Salish), Marvin Oliver (Quinalt/Isleta Pueblo), and Clarissa Hudson (Tlingit) have adapted the iconic Northwest Coast imagery to create revolutionary glass forms that visualize old stories from their cultures. Michael Carius (Siberian Y'upic) imagines a figure from his Emperor Goose Clan and Larry Ahvakana (Inupiaq) recreates an icy Arctic landscape in glass. Each artist opens a window on his or her personal experience and cultural past.
 
Glass is a fluid medium that by its nature can fuse and meld disparate ideas, colors, and forms. Furthermore, the collaborative nature of the hot glass process invigorates the art form as artists assist each other to bring personal visions to life. In the summer of 2001, David Svenson (the sole non-Native American included in this exhibition) and Preston Singletary realized their dreams when a cedar totem pole with glass and neon components was raised at the Pilchuck Glass School in celebration of the school's thirtieth anniversary. Influenced by their experience at Pilchuck, Master carvers Joe David (Nuu-Chah-Nulth), John Hagen (Alaskan Native), and Wayne Price (Tlingit) began to experiment with glass in their subsequent art. This artistic exchange demonstrates the strength of the ties between the Pilchuck Glass School and the Native American artists who have studied there. The movement continues, as both Jojola and Singletary teach Native students in Taos and Seattle. Two of Singletary's students, Robert Tannahill (Mohawk/Metís) and Brian Barber (Pawnee), have broken with the functional and decorative origins of glass to create enigmatic and authoritative forms based in their cultural traditions. Both artists are working in a cultural realm in which the visible is not always legible to the uninitiated; yet even the culturally initiated will find these figures in glass startlingly new. The spiritual and artistic power of this first generation of Native American glass artists is manifest in the vigor of the second generation.
 
The artwork presented in this exhibition is alive with relationships among generations, individuals, and cultures. Each work of art enunciates the power of cultural heritage. Equally powerful is the community built in the process of creating this art. Articulating a fusion of culture and community, these artists are shaping a new language of American art.
 
- Carolyn Kastner and Roslyn Tunis, co-curators
 
Fusing Traditions: Transformations in Glass was organized by the Museum of Craft & Folk Art, San Francisco, California - www.MOCFA.org. This exhibition has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, and Dorothy and George Saxe.
 
 
 
OBJECT LIST/WALL LABELS
revised 1/9/03
 
Larry Ahvakana
Landscape at Icy Cape
Fused glass, Kugler glass
18 3/8" x 18 3/8" x 1/2"
1988
Collection of Sue Ericsen
 
 
Marcus Amerman
Butterfly Maiden
Cut and seed beads, nylon thread, leather
16 1/4" x 14 1/4" x 1 1/2"
1984
 
 
Marcus Amerman
Killer Necklace
Peyote-stitched beads, bear claws, cut beads, leather-covered wood beads
Necklace: 14" in length, x 2" in diameter
Earrings: 2" in length
2002
 
 
Brian Barber
Writings
Solid worked glass; hand-made book
Glass: 5" x 3" in diameter.
Book: 10" x 13" (open position) x 1"
2000
 
 
Brian Barber
The Breath of Heaven, The Vault of Heaven
Sandcast glass, oil paint
8 1/2" x 6 " x 8" in diameter
2000
 
 
Brian Barber
The Great Cleansing Ceremony
Sandcast glass; wood, painted with wax and pigment
21 1/4" x 6 1/4" x 1 1/2"
2000
 
Michael Carius
Emperor Goose Clan Drummer
Hot-sculpted glass, forged steel
9 1/2" x 6" x 8"
1999
 
 
Joe David
Spirit Wolf
Cast glass, cedar bark, horsehair,
painted feathers, cotton, tobacco, string
5" x 11" x 7"
2001
Collection of John and Joyce Price
 
 
John Hagen
Moonlit
Cast glass, carved red cedar, neon
21 1/4" x 19 1/8" 7 3/4"
2002
 
 
John Hagen
Soulcatcher
11 3/8" x 31" x 5"
Polychromed wood, cast glass, neon
2001
 
 
Conrad House
(1956 - 2001)
Pair of Dancing Sticks
Sandcast glass (clear series)
14" x 3 3/4" x 1 1/4"
1988
Collection of John and Carolyn House
 
Conrad House
(1956 - 2001)
Lightning Prayersticks Protected by Turquoise Mountain Lions
Pyrex glass rods, sandblasted; ceramic attachments, acrylic,
turquoise, white shell and heishi beads, abalone, non-endangered
species parrot feathers
11" x 2" x 1"
1989
Collection of John and Carolyn House
 
 
Conrad House
(1956 - 2001)
Mountain Lions
Sandcast glass: 1 clear series; 1 copper and frit series;
parrot and flicker feathers, turquoise, white shell
12" x 4" x 1"
1988
Collection of Carrie House
 
 
Clarissa Hudson
Egyptian Tlingit - Headdress
Austrian and Czech crystal beads, fire-polished glass beads,
glass discs, smoked moose hide, base metal discs, seed beads
17" x 7" x 7"
2002
 
 
Tony Jojola
Evening Colors
Free-blown glass with drawing and stamps
13 1/2" x 9"
2001
 
 
Tony Jojola
Guarding Our Sacred Water
Free-blown glass with solid bears and stamps
6 1/2" x 8 3/4"
2001
 
Tony Jojola
As Water Serpents Meet
Free-blown glass with drawing
11" x 8 1/2"
2001
 
 
Tony Jojola
Untitled Olla
Free-blown glass with basket drawing
14" x 13 1/2"
2001
 
 
Ramson Lomatewama
Matrix of Life Becoming
Blown glass, 24-karat gold leaf
5" x 12" in diameter
1997
 
Ed Archie NoiseCat
Baby Frog
Blown and sandcarved glass.
11" x 12" x 8"
2001 (above left: Ed Archie NoiseCat, Baby Frog, Blown and sandcarved glass,11" x 12" x 8". Photograph by M. Lee Fatheree, Oakland, CA. Courtesy of Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, CA. Used with permission.)
 
Marvin Oliver
Facing You
Cast glass, polished dichroic glass, steel
28" x 13" x 6 1/2"
2002
 
Shaun Peterson
Defining Wolf
Sandblasted glass, carved western red cedar,
stainless steel, acrylic pigment
36" in diameter x 4"
2002
 
 
Susan A. Point
Mythical Bird
Slumped and carved glass, painted and carved yellow cedar base,
painted maple spindle
24" x 24" in diameter
2002
 
 
Wayne G. Price
Tlingit Bear Visions
Carved red cedar, glass, paint
9 1/2" x 6 1/2" x 6 1/2"
2002
 
Preston Singletary
Raven Steals the Moon
Blown and sandcarved glass
19 3/4" x 8" x 6"
2002
 
 
Preston Singletary
Blue Fin
Blown and sandcarved glass
17" x 9" x 6"
2002
 
 
Preston Singletary
Crystal Canoe Grease Dish
Blown and sandcarved glass
16" x 7" x 5"
2002
 
 
Preston Singletary
Wall Screen Panel
Fused and sandblasted glass, metal
25 3/4" x 33 1/2" x 6"
2002
 
 
David Svenson
Touched by the Better Angels of Our Nature
Carved polychromed wood, glass, neon
Wood figure: 25" x 11" x 11"
Glass figures: 21" x 8" x 7"; 21" x 7" x 6"
1992
 
 
David Svenson
Light As a Feather
Carved polychromed red cedar, neon
47" x 10" x 4"
2000
 
 
David Svenson
Hauberg Totem
(Prototype for the Pilchuck Founders Totem Pole)
Wood, cast and blown glass, polychromed argon tube
Pole: 18 3/4" x 8"
Glass hat: 5 3/4" in diameter
2000
Collection of Pacific Denkmann Company
 
 
Robert John Tannahill
False Faces Series
Four Eyes
Blown glass, carved cedar, copper wire
11" x 6" in diameter
2001
 
 
Robert John Tannahill
False Faces Series
A Ghost from My Grandma's Basement
Blown glass, carved wood, copper wire
15" x 4 1/4"
2001
Collection of Maud Hallin
 
 
Robert John Tannahill
False Faces Series
Big Mouth
Blown glass, carved wood, bound with copper wire
13" x 5 1/2"
2001
 
 
C.S. Tarpley
Doumbeque (Alhambran Drum)
Blown glass, electroformed copper, goat skin
12 1/2" x 8" in diameter
2001
Courtesy of Kiva Fine Art of Santa Fe
 
 
C.S. Tarpley
Arabesque
Blown glass, electroformed copper
6" x 7 1/2"
2002
 
 
C.S. Tarpley
Water Vessel, Cibola Series
Blown glass, electroformed copper
11 1/2" x 7 1/2"
2001
 
 
[Label for Photograph of Pilchuck Founders Pole]
 
Preston Singletary and David Svenson finish the Founders Totem Pole at the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, August 2001.
 
Photograph by Russell Johnson
 
The Founders Totem Pole at the Pilchuck Glass School was raised to commemorate the school's thirtieth anniversary. Artists David Svenson and Preston Singletary proposed the idea for the pole that honors founders John Hauberg, Anne Gould Hauberg, and Dale Chihuly. The pole was carved from a twenty-foot red cedar log at Alaska Indian Arts in Haines. Artists in residence at Pilchuck painted the pole and created the glass and neon components.
 
John Hauberg is presented as a high-ranking chief at the base of the pole. Dale Chihuly is portrayed in the center wearing a glass and neon eye patch. At the top of the pole is the representation of Anne Gould Hauberg wearing a ceremonial robe and glass hat.
 

 

(above: Martin Oliver, Facing You, 2002, cast glass, polished dichroic glass with steel stand, 28 x 8 x 61/2 inches. Photograph by M. Lee Fatheree, Oakland, CA. Courtesy of Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, CA. Used with permission.)

 

rev. 4/27/05

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