Off the Beaten Path at GAS Conference Chicago, March 19 – 22, 2014

By David Francis, Museum of Glass Curator

The weather gods were kind to the glass world, as temperatures warmed up to the low 50s during the conference. With piles of dirty snow around, it seemed like the worst winter since the late 70s was on the way out. And yet the snow returned after we left.

While it was boxed away in a small, darkened room, the “Enlightened Glass” exhibition at the 2014 Glass Art Society Conference in Chicago a few weeks ago was a best-kept secret.  I crept in during a break in the action on Saturday and was hugely impressed with the range of vessel forms and sculptural work. Hopefully, GAS will eventually get some images from the show online; in the meantime, here is John E. Bannon’s “Bored of Frustration”, a whimsically titled, sculptural work that I enjoyed for its subtle juxtapositions: the figure is relaxing – but on a bed of nails. It also took a minute to realize that what at first appeared like an abstract line of glowing tube was actually a figurative sculpture. Instead of neon, the gas in this case in krypton, and a transformer enables the gas to appear to be moving, as little balls of light move from one end to the other.

John E. Bannon_Bored of Frustration

Friday night, Made Gallery hosted “How Glass Is…,” an exhibition of flameworking that ranged from pipes to sculptures. There was an immense line of people out front and for the rest of the evening, perhaps 200 strong, with a handful allowed entry every few minutes. So much for escaping the beaten path!

GAS 2014_Made Gallery


GAS 2014_Sibelle Yuksek_Dans Les Nuages

At the Made show, Sibelle Yuksek’s piece, “Dans Les Nuages” (“In the Clouds”), consisted of a lampworked borosilicate sculpture that functioned as a fashion accessory or elaborate hat – the installation included a great photograph of a model wearing the piece. Check out Sibelle’s line of wearable boro glass.

David Francis works primarily as an artist-curator with a practice informed by poetics, critical theory and archaeology (MFA, PhD, University of Washington). As an adjunct college professor for almost 20 years, he taught in Delaware, Washington, Kentucky, Poland (Fulbright), Semester at Sea, and Hungary (Fulbright), finally settling at Cornish College of the Arts from 1999 – 2006, when he began to focus on making visual art, joining Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) as an artist- curator in 2005 – 2013. From the mid-1980s until 2011, he also pursued a parallel career in archaeology, surveying, testing and excavating numerous sites in four states. In addition to more than 20 curatorial essays in exhibition catalogs, his publications include numerous technical reports, an award-winning collection of poems and a book on the indigenous Zoque region of Oaxaca, Mexico.