Amber Cowan: Reconstructions
Cowan’s work asks universal questions about rebirth, knowledge and desire and the transformative powers of labor and imagination. Do we get a second chance? How do aesthetic dictates affect our perception of attraction? And what makes the ordinary extraordinary? The centerpiece of the exhibition, Peach Bloom, a large-scale wall-covering installation, and other pieces included in the Reconstructions exhibit are made by re-working discarded or unwanted pressed glassware produced by some of the best known, but now-defunct, American glass factories. Simultaneously subversive & patriotic, Cowan’s objects explore the texture of material seduction and recount the history of US glass manufacturing; tracing its rise, glory and demise and its influence on society. In her practice Cowan takes objects, currently relegated to the aesthetic dustbin of history, and reincarnates them into ornate abstractions, which question the dichotomy of attraction and repulsion. While still containing the original spirit of the vintage glass, the well-defined characteristics of color and form reference corporeal tissue. Their intentional fleshiness is enhanced by Cowan’s color pallet derived from the once highly prized and avidly collected Peach Blow or Burmese glass (an American invention, distinctive for its gradated pink-to-cream color scheme). Using repetition and viral accrual of similar forms, her work is viscerally sensual, teetering between beautiful and sinister. Cowan received her MFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in 2011. In 2012 she was the recipient of the International Procter Fellowship from the Australian National University. Her work has been published in Corning Museum’s New Glass Review. Cowan is one of the featured artists in The Toledo Workshop Revisited, 1962-2012, a documentary film produced by the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation, about the week-long residency honoring the past and celebrating the future of creative experimentation in glass.