By Beverly M. Copeland, Editor and Publisher, Glass Focus
Artist Susan Taylor Glasgow recently exhibited her work through Heller Gallery at the 20th anniversary SOFA Chicago Exhibition, October 31 – November 3 at Chicago’s Navy Pier. A native of Duluth, Minnesota, she states, “I migrated south with the geese one fall and studied Design at the University of Iowa.” Now a resident of Columbia, Missouri, her studio is an old 1930’s house downtown that she and her husband rescued from demolition.
Those of us that visited the SOFA Exposition may have been fortunate enough to view her Chandelier dress. It is an eye-popping, show-stopping, lighting fixture – a sparkling confection, consisting of a hand stitched glass bustier, delicate beads, and curliques, all formed out of glass.
“Couture du Verre” is inspired by Glasgow’s experience in design and dressmaking. Her work highlights the beauty of garment construction while exploring the nature of domesticity. This series sees Glasgow incorporating new concepts, such as flowing garments in glass, and a new focus on extending the narratives in the details of her work.
Upon closer inspection, viewers will see that the glass pieces are not made with the finest fabrics, but woven with Glasgow’s personal experience of, and expectations for, fashion. Her pieces express the explorations of gender roles that are central to her work.
“I embraced domesticity in feminine spirit but not in action………Misguided domestic talents eventually grew into concepts of sewing an unyielding medium, baking inedible creations, and stitching glass clothing no one can wear. Housekeeping is last while instead I cook, arrange, and sew – glass. My life and art are the result of homemaking skills gone awry. I have the luxury of exploring the complexities of domestic life from the safe distance of my studio.
For years I believed my work was about myself. But ultimately my work is about my Mother. With the sewing and cooking skills she passed on, I am able to indulge my own notions of domestic role-playing. My work embraces the feminine ideals of sewing and cooking, but in a contrary material, offering conflicting messages of comfort and expectation.”
Each sewn glass sculpture starts out as a flat sheet of glass. In her previous life Taylor Glasgow was a professional dressmaker and seamstress, so she has a comfortable understanding about how to take a flat sheet of material and give it form. The components are fired to 1250 degrees and once cooled, they are sewn together. Depending on the complexity of the vessel or sculpture, the entire creative process may take two to four weeks to complete.
An earlier (2009) series of her work was inspired by her interaction with abused women during my residency at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. At the time she was building The Communal Nest made up of hundreds of glass twigs.
“I invited women from the Bethlehem Haven women’s shelter to make glass twigs to be added to The Communal Nest. Their physical and emotional scars shocked and humbled me. Not qualified to evaluate how abusive relationships develop, the work instead examines choices and environments in which we have no control. Situations that leave a permanent imprint on us and direct our lives with unbreakable psychological bonds. I began combining pairs of everyday domestic objects — a teapot and cup, a creamer and sugar bowl, a dustpan and broom — making one object as beautiful as I could make it, and the other as ugly, binding them with a glass chain, a tattered ribbon, or an imposing shadow. Sewing and tethering them together, I examine the dynamics between regrets and hope, enabler and dependent, confidence and self-doubt, and why we sometimes can’t separate the two.”
Taylor Glasgow is a 2002 recipient of Pilchuck Glass School emerging artists grant, a Wheaton Village fellow in fall of 2003, and most recently a resident artist at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Her work is in the collections of the Carnegie Museum, Chrysler Museum, Museum of American Glass, and several others.
Article in The Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet, by Arthur Hwang
Artist website: www.taylorglasgow.com
SOFA Catalog 2013, P. 106