A Nabakovian Typewriter, Jennifer Blazina’s Desks At The Art Alliance
By Andrea K. Hammer, For The Bulletin
Published: Monday, December 15, 2008
At this time of year, the first mention of glass art stirs images of multicolored ornaments, goblets and vases casting extra prisms of light on holiday festivities.
But “Transformation 6: Contemporary Works in Glass” at the Philadelphia Art Alliance adds new dimensions to preconceived notions of the medium.
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In another novel use of glass, “Evoking Nabokov,” by Michael Rogers, focuses on transformation and metamorphosis in nature and literature. A trip to the Harvard Natural History Museum, where the artist encountered a display of Vladimir Nabokov’s butterfly collection, inspired this piece.
“ ‘Evoking Nabokov’ is a hand-engraved antique display case,” explained Mr. Rogers, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences in New York. “Every glass surface on the case is hand engraved with text. Inside are Victorian paperweights with sectional images of the blue morph butterfly on the top shelf. Hanging from underneath the top shelf like a chrysalis is a gold pocket watch with the glass face engraved with text.”
In addition, he noted that an old typewriter with approximately 17 feet of text typed with a dry ribbon onto wax paper has created an embossed ghost image on the bottom shelf. According to the artist, the typed text reflects automatic writing or the written equivalent of speaking in tongues.
“This work is my attempt to encapsulate the spirit of a writer I greatly admire,” Mr. Rogers said. “It is an attempt to evoke the writer’s presence.”
To create this piece, the artist used all found objects and concentrated on transforming them. Ultimately, they transcended their previous definition and existence.
“Dante says, in Convito, that we have a continual experience of our immortality in the divination of our dreams, and these would not be possible unless something in us were immortal. This is precisely the idea that drives ‘Evoking Nabokov,’ ” Mr. Rogers said.
He described some of the challenges and rewards of working in this medium.
“Glass is an atypical material that has a molecular structure unlike other materials. It has been described as a super cooled liquid. I am attracted to the relationship between glass and light with its spiritual associations; I am attracted to glass and its relationship to everything else because of its transparency,” he said.
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Gallery hours at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, located at 251 S. 18th Street, are Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about the glass exhibit, on view through Jan. 5, call 215 545-4302 and visit www.philartalliance.org.