Wexler Gallery's newest exhibit calls for a reflection on the elegance of glass and the magic of intricate detail.
At first glance, Brent Kee Young’s pieces are hard to decipher. From afar, the transparent chairs, vases and structures look plastic, stubbornly artificial. Yet, with every step you take, you come to realize the error of your initial judgment. Each piece is composed of a plethora of flame–worked, yarn–thin glass spirals, expertly intertwined to construct large–scale works. From a country kitchen chair to a seven–foot–tall Grecian column, the glass artwork exhibit “The Matrix Series: Studies in Form/Illuminating The Common” are breathtaking.
On display at the Wexler Gallery, this nine–piece series aims to explore “the ambiguous nature of glass and the sense of space and volume one can create.” A renowned glass artist and winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize for Visual Arts, Young succeeds at creating structures that look so delicate that you’re afraid to sneeze around them; yet they exhibit perfect strength and balance. Each of the thousands of curved rods intertwines to secure the integrity of the structures.
Young’s play on volume and form is exemplified in the life–size replica of a sofa chair. Though it appears as fragile as the rest of the pieces, this one has a voluminous, pillowesque quality that tempts you to take a seat — even though the result would be disastrous. The artist manages to use stark, cold glass tubes to create the illusion of fluff and comfort, a feat as unbelievable as it is beautiful.
The standout piece of the exhibit is the Grecian column that dominates the northwest corner of the room. Standing at an unfathomable seven feet, its sheer height is outstanding. But what makes this piece unlike the rest is the increased level of complexity: inside the column, a series of small, perfectly symmetrical staircases stand upon each other at 30–degree angles, creating a path all the way to the very top (and this masterpiece of glass–handling can be yours for a whopping 38 grand!).
Though small in size, the intricacy and distinctiveness of the works in this exhibit is enough to keep an observer thoroughly intrigued. In his works, Young manages to juxtapose fragility and strength: small–scale complexity with large–scale simplicity. And when the light hits a piece in just the right spot, the transparent glass tubes become tiny prisms which reflect rainbows onto the stark white pedestals, making magic if just for a moment.