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A Transcendent Materiality
By Tom Wachunas
“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives, the cumulative experience of many masters of craftsmanship…” - John Ruskin
“… Art is all about craftsmanship. Others can interpret craftsmanship as style if they wish. Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that. It's not what we say but how we say it that matters.” - Federico Fellini
EXHIBIT: The Matrix Series: Glass Art of Brent Kee Young, at the Canton Museum of Art, THROUGH MARCH 3, 2019 / 1001 Market Avenue North Canton, Ohio / 330.453.7666 / Viewing hours: Closed Mondays; Tuesday, - Thursday - 10:00am - 8:00pm; Friday & Saturday - 10:00am - 5:00pm; Sunday - 1:00 - 5:00pm
video of Brent Kee Young process:
Our most compelling artists can often transform their chosen raw materials with what seems to be pure magic. In examining such skillful articulations, our careful looking can in turn become a profoundly transcendent experience. A spiritual encounter. That’s certainly what can transpire when encountering the exquisitely crafted sculptures by Brent Kee Young.
His raw materials are pencil-thin rods of flame-worked borosilicate glass. The radiant constructions here were inspired by iconic artifacts and ceremonial objects from Asian and Wari (a pre-Columbian civilization that flourished from about AD 500 to 1000 in what is now Peru) cultures.
What wizardry is this…this uncanny union of cultural histories, science, engineering, and poetic vision? Looking at these objects, the very air itself – inside and outside their labyrinthine configurations – becomes a tangibly contoured and volumetric element. There are forms embedded in forms - 3D echoes or permutations that enhance their spatial depth and evoke a sense of timelessness. These wondrous webs of glass seem to breathe when moving around them, and are all the more enlarged by the elegant gallery lighting that casts their diaphanous shadows on to pedestals and floor.
Enlarged indeed, in their gossamer-like translucency, there’s nonetheless a solidly architectural sensibility to these works - one that held me spellbound and transported in rapt attention to memories of unique realities as well as fantasies. I thought of Gothic cathedrals and the glow of candlelight dancing on glittery reliquaries; of prisms and ice castles and moonlight glistening on snow; even the dazzling complexity of our brains’ chemical synapses and neuro- transmission junctures. Yikes – all this and more just from the shapes of a few urns and bowls.
At one point, the intersecting clusters of crystalline, light-bearing tendrils that comprise these enthralling vessels caused me to recall a personally cathartic moment from many years ago here in Ohio winter. Stepping outdoors one blustery morning after an ice storm, I looked into the woods behind my house. I was instantly drawn to a marvelous sound carried on the wind as it whistled through myriad ice-laden branches. They were so many sparkling lines, as if each was encased in a sleeve of glass, all etched into a sunlit sky, and all flapping together to make a joyful a noise. It sounded just like… applause. Pure magic.