Glassworks Exhibit Explores Elements of Time

The Western Carolina University Fine Arts Museum is featuring “Time and Again: Glassworks by Kit Paulson and SaraBeth Post.” The exhibition will last through May 1, 2020.

Post and Paulson use various techniques to construct glass into pieces that explore time, history, memory and the antique. Many of the pieces feature objects frozen in time that transport the viewer back into history. Other pieces evoke memories that have been buried deep down, just out of reach.

Paulson holds a Master of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University and is currently completing a residency at Penland School of Craft. Her specialty is torchworked glass which involves using a small flame to melt and shape the glass into intricately detailed structures.

Post holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in glass from the University of Louisville and is pursuing a work-study opportunity as a core fellow at the Penland School of Craft. She specializes in casting and uses this technique to recreate childhood objects such as antique toys and dolls.

Three dresses that are small enough for a doll to wear are featured in the exhibit. The dresses are dainty and flowing as though made from fabric, but upon closer inspection, one can see that they are actually made of glass. One of the pieces, Treasure Island, is a dress that features dark gray, black, purple and blue. Another is titled MaryAnnwhich is white and ivory. According to Treasure Island’s plaque, the colors in these pieces reflect Post’s mood while she was making them. Maryann suggests innocence and light while Treasure Island suggests a more changeable frame of mind.

Another of Post’s pieces, titled Pillow, is a small blue pillow that looks soft enough to sleep on if one didn’t know it was made of glass. This piece is meant to focus on the present rather than dwelling on the past and the future as humans so often do. The Pillow symbolizes a moment of rest and meditation in the current moment.

Post’s cast glass piece, Sunk is a green hemisphere of glass that turns darker towards the bottom. When looking from the right angle, the viewer can make out the outline of a teapot sitting at the bottom. The piece is meant to symbolize childhood memories that are sometimes so clear but also so cloudy.

Paulson’s Touch Me Not is made with thin strands of borosilicate glass, which is more resistant to thermal shock than most common glass. This piece takes the shape of a pair of medieval gauntlets, but it is delicate and ornate unlike the sturdy piece of armor it is modeled after. Paulson wanted the piece to remind viewers of the passage of time. Each ornamental design in the piece took time to make and thus embodies the passage of time.

Eulogy for Ornament is another piece that Paulson made with borosilicate glass and was made to look like a Victorian era bonnet. The thin, black glass forms an intricate skeletal design that almost looks like lace. This piece invites viewers to slow down and take in each individual ornament in the bonnet.

Some of Paulson’s pieces were modeled after specific objects from real life or from stories. Cravat after Grinling Gibbons is meant to look like a necktie that was often worn by men in the 17th century. Grinling Gibbons was an English woodcarver whose pieces famously included fine ornament. Paulson takes inspiration from Gibbons, carrying on the tradition of ornament that was started by artists decades before her. Many of Paulson’s pieces feature loops similar to those in Gibson’s carved pieces.

Cape of the Selkie Bride by Paulson is an object from a Scottish folktale about a selkie. A selkie is a mythical creature that takes on the form of a seal in the water and a human on land. In the story, a seal turns into a human and seduces a fisherman who later convinces her to marry him by preventing her from turning back into her seal form. The selkie spends her whole life longing for the sea, her true home.

Other exhibits going on at the Fine Arts Museum are “Curious Terrain: WNC from the air” which features striking images of NC’s westernmost counties and raises questions about human’s impact on the landscape. Another is “Claire Van Vliet: Stone and Sky” which features prints of dramatic rock formations. The museum also features art from undergraduates who are emerging in the art world and building their skills in presenting their artwork in a professional gallery.