run through Full Spectrum, the last group exhibition at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, is a strange pattern – bananas. Whether or not the fruit intentionally appears remains a mystery, but it definitely stands out, whether in the work of Cayman-American artist Davin K. Ebanks, as a noted inspiration for Korean-born artist Eun -Ha Paek (their statement refers to “a banana peel on the ground”), or in the bright yellow bouquet that appears as part of Nikki Lau’s Chinatown-inspired ceramic cornucopia.
But there are more than bananas in this small but eclectic exhibition in the gallery space.
On view until May 22 Full Spectrum brings together works of art incorporating the main medium of the Glass Center, as well as wood, metal, fiber, video, and more. Hosted by Corey Pemberton of Crafting the Future, April Felipe of The Color Network and Nisha Blackwell of Knotzland, the show is described as featuring 18 “visionary creators of color from across the country who produce extraordinary crafts, while illustrating the vast number of pathways to a successful and meaningful career.
The artists represent a wide range of racial identities and backgrounds. Five of them are from Pittsburgh, including Mexican-born artist Ana Armengod, whose iconic painted eggs are displayed on small pedestals more suited to decorative pillar candles, and accompanied by a looping video in black and white she recorded.
Similar to Armengod, other artists on display demonstrate the show’s loose dedication to glass and ceramics. This can be seen in a selection of vibrant green dresses by Taiwanese-American artist Hai-Wen Lin and a woodblock print by NE Brown, as well as other works where glass takes precedence over other materials.
That’s not to say that glass isn’t always the star of the show, even if it only pops up in subtle ways, like in the colorful beadwork threaded onto the cascading vine-like appendages of fiberboard wall hangings. and wood by Pittsburgh artist LaVerne Kemp. This style is repeated to some extent in “The Cool Kids” and “Stranger”, two pieces by Pittsburgh artist Rell Rushin. Like Kemp’s hangings, glass beads are incorporated, wrapped in thread to depict black hairstyles in two acrylic paintings.
When the glass goes solo, the results range from innovative to spectacular. Among the most notable are two contributions from Brooklyn glassblower Leo Tecosky, who combines industrial elements like metal tubing with glass arrows that twist and turn in ways that seem impossible given their thickness. Paired with a hanging arrow piece, a bubbly pink graffiti-adorned “B” sculpture, another element Tecosky uses to, according to the artist’s biography, juxtapose “the complexity of visual language with the fluidity and transparency of glass”.
The way the artists use found objects or materials is also impressive. Pittsburgh artist SaraBeth Post incorporates baby blocks and other objects into her work, which is defined by bright, childlike cast glass letters and shapes. Bre’Annah Stampley takes an inventive approach with “Fragmented Remembering,” a piece that transforms a broken lamp that once belonged to her late great-grandmother into a loving tribute that the artist describes as a “form of healing” because she gave him something to do with her grief.
From here, visitors are treated to more traditional forms of glass art, including two masterfully flawless large vases by Arthur Wilson and the breathtakingly delicate crystal castles by Eunsuh Choi, as well as vessels, sculptures and other pieces.
No matter how the artists of Full Spectrum choose to express themselves, the influence of culture and experiences shines through. For example, Colombian-American artist Natalia Arbelaez draws inspiration from her own heritage, producing works that use pre-Columbian styles and materials like terracotta as a way to reclaim traditions lost during European colonization. Even the bananas, absurd as they sound, address issues or difficult times that define artists (for Ebanks, they represent a status symbol in Cayman, as locally grown bananas are considered “food of the poor”) , and add a more figurative fragility. to the many fragile works exhibited.