August 21, 2014 - March 8, 2015
Philadelphia artist Amber Cowan has been working with glass for more than a decade and is known for re-using discarded glass as her primary medium. Much of Cowan's work incorporates the once-popular American pressed glass invented in the Victorian era. Manufactured in the United States for more than 100 years, pressed glass was predominantly tableware characterized by its surface of ornate textured patterns. Today, pressed glass is often considered old-fashioned and Cowan has described it as being "relegated to the aesthetic dustbin of history." Yet, it is the history that Cowan attempts to honor when she transforms the pressed glass into contemporary abstractions. It is important to Cowan to retain the original color of the glassware and embrace a similar passion for patterning.
In addition to using pressed glass, Cowan has at times recycled and re-used wine and beer bottles as seen in Siphonaea Wall, a piece created in Australia during a fellowship at The Australian National University. Cowan's wall composition features an ornate abstract pattern of individually fabricated glass elements based on her observation of various forms of ocean kelp. Cowan has captured both the jewel-like nature of these underwater plants while preserving her interest in historical patterning and Victorian elegance.