From Fiber to Glass and Back - Beautifully

From Fiber to Glass and Back - Beautifully

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Jackie Abrams and Josh Bernbaum, A Primary Discourse: hot glass/hot paper, 2011; painted cotton paper, waxed linen, glass

Jackie Abrams and Josh Bernbaum's joint show, opening today at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, is called "Dialogue" - and how lucky for the rest of us, that we get to visually eavesdrop on their spectacular artistic conversation.

Bernbaum works in glass, Abrams in basketry. Their collaboration took root a couple of years ago, when, in return for a gift of handmade tumblers, Abrams made Bernbaum a basket, her interpretation of the traditional cathead form. The basket's pattern and coloration intrigued Bernbaum, who decided to make a glass interpretation of it. He gave his piece to Abrams, and voila: The idea for a special collaboration - two makers with different skills sets, working in different mediums - materialized.

Again: How lucky for us! Because that initial call-and-response (A Primary Discourse, 2009-2011) has yielded a fascinating, multi-layered body of work. In Material Conversation, 2011, Abrams inventively responded to Bernbaum's bold asymmetrical vessel with the saturated colors and near-translucent qualities of plastic bags. Bound with waxed linen, the formerly flimsy material is transformed into a nubby, substantial form that has no problem holding its own against its regal glass partner. (The two vessels almost seem to be leaning into one another - perhaps in curious recognition of their likeness.)

But what makes "Dialogue" especially thrilling is that it's not only the results that are beautiful and varied: Those words equally describe the artists' collaborative process. For Work in Progress(ion), 2011, Bernbaum blew a vessel and passed it to Abrams, who crafted a basket and passed it back to him. The circular process carried on, each exchange evolving the colors and forms. For Captured Reflections (2011), Abrams created a copper basket, which could withstand the heat of glass blown into it. For the Red Sand Dreamings series, Abrams devised a way to bind canes (typically incorporated into blown glass) with waxed linen, realizing Bernbaum's long-held desire to use cane "as is" in his work.

"Jackie Abrams & Josh Bernbaum: Dialogue" is part of ARTCraft, six concurrent exhibitions at BMAC that "explore the boundaries between fine art and fine craft." It runs July 15 - October 23, 2011.

Can't get enough craft? Neither can we. Heck Yes Craft is a series of visual blog posts with a simple mission: to show off amazing work. Come back on Fridays for more.