August 18, 2012 — October 14, 2012
In the Artist Hall
Friday, August 17, 2012
5:30, Artist Talk
6:00 – 7:00 PM, Reception
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is pleased to present Glass Graphica, an exhibition about the possibilities of glass to convey graphic punch. The show also serves as an unlikely Texas reunion of two artists who met as teacher and student in New York City more than five years ago.
Moshe Bursuker and Miguel Unson first met in 2007 at the community access studio, UrbanGlass, in Brooklyn, NY, where Bursuker had been teaching and renting glassblowing time since 2001. At the time, Unson, a native Houstonian, was finishing up his degree in packaging design at the Pratt Institute, when an assignment about perfume bottles turned into a love of glass. Unson began hanging out at UrbanGlass, taking an early class from Bursuker and eventually becoming the studio’s coordinator of education before returning to Houston a little over a year and half ago. While their techniques, methods and subject matter are quite different, two things are constant: a love of material and a strong aesthetic.
Bursuker, a longtime New Yorker, combines photography and glass in tiled collages that utilize the properties of glassblowing to convey high-contrast images culled from our surroundings. While his past work has depicted naturalistic imagery—clouds and trees, ferns and leaves—his newest pieces, presented in this exhibition, place these items within the human landscape. Nature VS Architecture Wave, for instance, is a dizzying depiction of the thrust of a skyscraper into an unseen sky. A slash of tree branch cuts across the picture plane, its furcating limbs crawling across the surface with the creeping unease of a spider’s skittering walk. At the bottom, the piece breaks into a confusion of black and white—a pictorial representation of how glass windows reflect, refract and distort.
Bursuker accomplishes these meta-depictions of glass on glass through a skillful combination of glass blowing, sand carving, and digital photography. Despite their cool presentation, each of Bursuker’s pieces begins in the heat of the fire, where he skillfully applies layers of molten colored glass to blow vessels, which become the flat panels that are the basis of his work. Then, using recent innovations in studio technology, Bursuker sandblasts his digitally manipulated images through the surface color to reveal the high-contrast, high-tech photos. In these works, he has taken his process a step further, reintroducing his objects to the heat of the kiln to make them curve and bend, recovering the fluidity that is at the heart of the material.
Fluidity of material and a daring combination of disparate techniques are also at the heart of Miguel Unson’s flame-worked and kiln-cast glass wheels. In She Won’t Look at You (Won’t Look at You), gossamer veils of white glass form a watery network against a sea of black. Meandering trails of brilliant white dots offset the gauzy haze, giving the work structure and Unson’s signature pop. To create these works, which Unson describes as designed “to delight the eye and to baffle future archeologists,” he first begins in the heat of the glass torch. Using different-colored glass rods and a panoply of tools, Unson meticulously creates the twisty canes, dots, and candy-striped lozenges that form his pieces. After amassing a pile of elements, Unson carefully arranges them in a mold of his own design, which he fires in a kiln several times to achieve the thickness and presentation he desires. The results are visually arresting and are in fact baffling, looking as they do, like the remnant of some long-forgotten culture.
Moshe Bursuker earned his BFA in sculpture and photography from the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He is the recipient of the Metropolitan Contemporary Glass Group Fellowship Award (2005), the Fellowship of the Creative Glass Center of America (2007) and the Fellowship of the Corning Museum of Glass (2007). He is represented by the Morgan Glass Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA; the Sandra Ainsley Gallery in Toronto, ON; and Sarah Jessica Fine Arts in Provincetown, MA; amongst many others. He has taught at the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY; and UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, NY. Bursuker currently lives and works in the Greater New York City area.
Miguel Unson received his Masters of Science from the Pratt Institute in packaging design and his Bachelors of Arts in theater and English at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He was a both a resident (2010) and Emerging Artist in Residence at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA. He has taught at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, NY; the Pittsburgh Glass School in Pittsburgh, PA; and at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. Unson currently lives and works in Houston, TX.
Above: (1) Moshe Bursuker, “Nature VS Architecture Wave.” Blown, cut, carved and slumped glass. 2012. Photo by Josh Silk. (2) Miguel Unson, “She Won’t Look at You.” Flameworked and cast glass. 2010. Photo by Miguel Unson.