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January 28, 2016 to April 24, 2016

HUSH: Megan Biddle, Amber Cowan, Jessica Jane Julius, and Sharyn O’Mara

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The Philadelphia Art Alliance is pleased to present HUSH, an exhibition that brings together the work of artists Megan Biddle, Amber Cowan, Jessica Jane Julius and Sharyn O'Mara. Working over the course of a year, the artists, who are also colleagues on the glass faculty at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, created visually and conceptually diverse works that include site-specific installations as well as individual sculptures and drawings. At the outset, the artists recognized commonalities in their practice: reflection (literal and figurative) and distillation. They began with a collective desire to see past the overstimulus of the digital age and to focus on the analog, narrow the vocabulary from color to gray scale, and capture the power of memory and reflection in interpretation of experience. And yet, there is nothing simplistic either in the ambition or scope of any of the artists' work.

Megan Biddle's mixed media sculptures and images draw upon themes relating to the earth: rocks, erosion, time, cycles, and scale shifts. Contrasting the subtle yet powerful passage of time that is coded in the natural landscape with the hyper-speed of our daily existence, Biddle ponders our perceptions of time. Using the grid, a ubiquitous device for measuring, mapping, and structuring, she creates a dense, stretched out, or seemingly stopped-in-place understanding of time and space. Material formations such as the slow erosion that carves a rock or the spontaneity of molten glass suggests the contrast of nature and technology. Her works for this exhibition explore the microscopic, macroscopic and the scale shifts that occur when an accumulation of particles becomes a star in a galaxy.

At first glance, Amber Cowan's works appear lavish; densely packed, intensely detailed, viral in accrual. Yet these works speak in quiet abundance, transcending the thousands of hand-formed elements that create an environment in which viewers quickly become lost and then found again as they discover familiar and unexpected forms, recognizing what might be bone, porcelain, or stone. Working with discarded and unwanted pressed glassware produced by some of the best known but now sadly defunct glass factories in America, Cowan's reforming of these materials can be considered both subversive and patriotic, a quite homage to the history and demise of American glass manufacturing and a sad epigraph to its disappearance from our culture.

Influenced by the complexity of our visually overloaded society, Jessica Jane Julius' objects, installations, and drawings reflect on the intangible environment - the multitude of surrounding elements in our environments that cannot be perceived through touch. Works for HUSH explore the complexities of stasis. Whether it is radiating in the atmosphere or drowning out the quit of the mind, tension exists that is both mesmerizing yet creates visceral unrest. The work attempts to make meaningful connections amidst the noise, to transform the intangible into tangible, and to create balance by applying chaos to order and order to chaos.

Sharyn O'Mara's images, installations, and drawings explore the relationship between the mapping of the land--with roads that create lines, intersections, and grids--and the mapping of experience using written language through grammar and composition. Structures imposed on the topography of the land act as a metaphor for the organization and divided nature of language, and thus for the territories of experience. The works for this exhibition come from an ever-increasing sense of the immensity of not knowing in a political culture that seems to be spiraling out of control. Working with the carbon residue of her beloved dogs' hair in attempt to capture their DNA, fragile lines of fused glass particles or the most spare hand drawn mark attempts to reduce the complexity of material and language to a single mark yields infinite meanings. The spaces in between, like those between letters, words, and paragraphs, allow for pause as new terrain emerges.


Support is provided by the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and members of the PAA.

Megan Biddle: Special thanks to Jason Surbeck/Surbeck Waterjet Co.

Amber Cowan: All work courtesy of Heller Gallery, New York Sharyn O’Mara: Work for this exhibition was made possible by a Temple University Sabbatical, partial funding by a Tyler School of Art/Temple University Dean’s Grant, and a residency at the Djerassi Foundation.

Special thanks to KBonk / fabrication and John Carlano.

The artists are particularly grateful for the support of the Irvin Borowsky Glass Studios, Tyler School of Art, Temple University.


Tags: glass, installation, sculpture