The Washington Glass School is recognized internationally as one of the leaders of the worldwide movement that has finally dragged the genre of glass from being qualified as “craft” to being recognized as “fine art.” A decade or so ago, a curator at the Hirshhorn Museum told me that the Hirshhorn “did not collect glass.”
“Does it collect chocolate or mud?” I then asked. She smiled because she knew that I had nailed her (The Hirshhorn has a sculpture made of chocolate by Janine Antoni and one of mud by Ana Mendieta). The key here is that glass is just a substrate, but to many close-minded museums and curators, when they think glass, they think craft.
WGS artists like Tim Tate, Michael Janis, Erwin Timmers, Nancy Donnelly, Robert Kinchloe, and others have changed that; add Audrey Wilson to the list.
Last month, “The Aberrant Collection of the Spurious Calamus” by Audrey Wilson was this young artist’s first solo show and it allowed Wilson to show why she’s on her way to become another giant signpost in the evolving art history of glass.
This new collection of works was her first solo show and it featured her mixed media sculptures. As a disclaimer, I will tell you that I’ve become very familiar with both Audrey Wilson and with her work in the last two years, since we’ve exhibited her work at both Aqua Art Fair in 2012 and most recently at Context Art Fair Miami in 2013.
Let me summarize this right now: if you are an art collector and did not buy one of her pieces at this show, her first (and thus historic) solo show, then you missed a rare opportunity in glass art history. At least two major DMV collectors knew this and acquired work at her show.
“Why does he say this?” you must be asking… let me explain why.
Over the years I think that I have developed a pretty damned good eye at spotting what makes an artist click (or not) and, dear readers, I have empirical evidence and not just hearsay or anecdotal data to back that statement.
And what I have noticed about Wilson and her work have several components – all critical – that help to make her a “BUY NOW.”
- She has enviable work ethic – that, my learned friends, is a key seasoning to the success soup recipe… nothing beats hard work.
- She is a hard worker – does it sound like I am repeating myself? It’s on purpose.
- She has a powerful “artistic IT” – that’s that undefinable (except by me) element that separates the good from the truly intelligent.
- Her work is intelligent… it just is! When you get into a discussion with Wilson about all the elements and components and titling of her pieces, one is left salivating like a Pavlov dog hearing a bell that signifies greatness.
- Her work looks GREAT! — I say this with some reticence, as these days, some art symbiots still have issues with beauty, but Wilson’s work stand out with some sort of undefinable beauty.
- She appeals to young collectors: OK —> you’re gonna have to trust me on this… but at the fairs I have sold her work to clients who have told me: “This is the first piece of art that we’ve ever bought!”
- She appeals to important major collectors: At Context Art Miami, on the second day, when I got to the booth there was a MAJOR (caps well deserved) collector waiting for me at the booth. She told me that this was the first time in over two decades of art collecting that she had waited for someone at an empty booth (this while I was wondering how she got into the fair before official opening time)… “I want this artist,” she said in her usual brusque manner… and she got her.
- She appeals to curators: At Aqua, her work was invited to a major curatorial project.
Audrey Wilson tells you that her sculptures are “a blend of created and altered elements that reflect evolving science and machinery and explore the relationship between man and technology. Technology is merely an extension and reflection of mankind. In fact, no objects contain more human essence than do tools.”
Audrey’s sculptural projects and multi-media works are “metaphors evoking our endless manipulation of environment, our need for control, and our longing for a meaningful union with nature and the other, in a supreme balance of power and delicacy. People are becoming increasingly alienated from the objects which surround and sustain them, as they have lost the emotional link to technology.”
“The Aberrant Collection of the Spurious Calamus” was a super debut and captured our complicated relationship with technology, mirroring it back with poetic glances.
Read this column again in ten years.
Written by: F. Lennox Campello