By Hand Gallery

By Hand is a 40 year old fine arts co-operative located inside Fountain Square Mall on the south side of the Courthouse Square. By Hand features art by local and regional artists including painting, jewelry, pottery, knitting, wood, weaving, photography, glass, and more.

Inside Fountain Square

101 W. Kirkwood Ave. #109  Bloomington, IN 47404 

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Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sun. 12 p.m.–4 p.m.

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Evocative Explorations: in the Realm of Glass
 

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

August 5—28, 2022

OPENING RECEPTION August 5, 5-8 P.M.

 

Evocative Explorations: in the Realm of Glass

By Hand Gallery will open a group show of the work of Anne Simon, Christy Weezer, Frank Lewis, and Michal Ann Carley. These four artists create visual narratives that have been elicited from personal and collective memories by employing the uniquely transformative characteristics of glass that travel between hard and soft, liquid and solid, and hot and cold.

 

Anne Simon has been researching and photographing birds since she aided her then young son investigate dinosaurs. She became especially intrigued with the evolution of dinosaurs into birds and their adaptations to becoming flying creatures through the study of the shapes of the beaks, the colors of the eyes, and the textures in the feathers. As a frequent hiker and nature photographer, Simon can carefully observe the anatomical and expressive details of each of her subjects. Based on these investigations, she creates intricately detailed portraits. Each is built in layers of cold-cut, fusible glass while the shading and details are predominately produced by hand painting with enamel liquid and powders. Every piece requires multiple kiln firings and uses vitrigraph cane, dichroic glass, and 22K gold for dynamic emphasis.

 

Simon graduated from Xavier University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, and a concentration in Art History. She has been working in glass since 1996 and opened Wish Art Glass in 2001. Her work is widely exhibited and collected.

 

Christy Weezer is a multi-disciplinary visual artist that paints, works in glass, mosaics, and public art in skateparks. Although her academic background centered in painting, her processes expanded when she studied stained glass class in 1995 and then learned methods of painting on glass more recently. In her Bloomington studio, her work moves through mediums and finds its way into the design of concrete skateparks found throughout Indiana, 10 states, and in Denmark. She has been the Director of Hunger Skateparks since 2011, where she collaborates with the design team, is project manager, and the on-site decorative concrete artist.

 

Weezer will show painted on glass pieces from the Her Hair series that invoke the mythological language of Medusa. She paints in grisaille, a monochromatic, layered technique that appeared during late-medieval stained-glass production. In Weezer’s hands, Her Hair is Medusa’s story as a woman made into a monster, ostracized, and is ultimately murdered by a so-called hero, and is easy to translate into the experiences of women of any time. Medusa’s most identifying features are her hair, made of snakes, and her gaze which turns men to stone. This narrative imagery entered the artist’s work in 2018 when she started replacing her hair with snakes in self-portraits. Weezer states:

 

The self-portraits played on my social anxiety--what would it be like to live with such marks? How can we hide and move freely within society while trying to tame uncontrollable forces, represented by the snakes, that have their own wild urges and hungers?

 

Medusa’s haunting gaze also mirrored those of rape survivors who identified with the paintings’ depictions: they conveyed how they couldn’t connect or trust and created protective stone walls around themselves. Most recently, Weezer has been grappling with the idea of the ‘hero’ in the Medusa story. Specifically:

 

“Who do we choose to designate as heroes? Each subculture has their own version of ‘hero’ that is somehow given a pass with bad behaviors because of their star status. Because I work within the historically male, skateboarding culture, it’s easy to be perplexed by the people who have been designated as the ‘ones’. Heroes are protected, sins are defended and not mentioned out of blind respect for these deeply flawed figures. Legends are created, told, and retold and listeners have to be reminded of their importance. My goal is to find the honest story, the story of the slayed and the hero slayer, and to tell bits of their story.”

 

Frank Lewis has spent his career as an arts professional who has bridged art presentation in the museum world as Curator and Director, art education as Professor of Art History and Arts Administration, arts writing as Editor of Metalsmith Magazine and an art critic, and as a practicing studio artist. Always peripatetic in his artistic explorations, his media have spanned painting, photography, lutherie, and multi-media sculpture.

 

During the last few years and its resultant societal ‘dis -ease’ he has immersed himself in a body of work he calls Disaster Series. The series situate glass houses at immanent risk from tornados, comets, tsunamis, or toppling. Lewis states:

 

“I try to use the most basic vocabulary and iconic of forms – house, tower, boat, water, clouds, etcetera. While I choose my processes--electroforming, glass casting, and woodworking that traditionally yield highly crafted and finished objects, my sculptures encourage the accident, cracks, ill-fitting junctures, and natural, uncontrolled patinas and surfaces. Having always admired Dada, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, I look for ways that the accidental and the unconscious play a role to expand the obvious meaning of the forms to stay with the viewer for longer than a simple narrative might… Like the past few years, no matter how organized and controlled we think our lives should be, surprises, pandemics, and political differences arise and interrupt plans.

 

Michal Ann Carley not only shares a studio with her partner, Frank Lewis, she shares a similar arts professional history. She has been Director and Curator of university art museums and galleries, a professor of art, art history, and arts administration, a nationally published arts writer, and a dedicated nonprofit arts manager. Characteristically, her art processes have also been multi-disciplinary. Her early two-dimensional paintings and drawings evolved into multiple media installations during graduate school and for the last several decades have been sculptural explorations in steel and glass.

 

Carley is ever looking for beginnings that transform—ferns unfurl, buds blossom and become seed pods, bird dance stimulates, and eggs emerge, and leaves turn crispy dry and fall to decompose into create rich humus that feeds what is to next become. These transitions are beautiful and magical yet can also be awkward and brutal. Carley creates her own transformative depictions in sculptural steel and glass by forging, shaping, and fabricating the 2000-degree materials into imaginary botanical and avian forms.

 

The curvilinear organic shapes of both the negative and positive spaces in the sculptures belie the brittle hardness of the raw materials. When shaping, the artist starts with cold rigid glass or steel. She says:

 

Steel’s dimension changes only with the forces of extreme heat, pressure, or torque. Its character is want to yield or to bend in multiple directions. It has a material memory that is recalcitrant, causing it to lean back into its original form. I must fight and plead with it. Conversely when glass is heated in a 3000-degree torch flame, it submits entirely and flows, relinquishing all former boundaries. I struggle to contain, direct and shape it. These processes and the resultant organically shaped sculptures materially and metaphorically allude to the condition of all sentient beings. The viewer recognizes the struggle of transition, of growth—one that perhaps mirrors their own experience— and sees that they are ones that are ephemeral and transitory, both abundant and scarce, and on a continuum of becoming or finishing. Such is life.

By Hand Gallery is a locally owned, cooperative gallery that currently has 12 artisan members. By Hand Gallery has been in the Bloomington community for over 30 years and has a reputation for selling art works that are of good design and quality craftsmanship. Besides our cooperative members, there are over 70 additional artists who sell their work through By Hand Gallery.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

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