Emerge/Evolve is a small but mighty exhibition at Pittsburgh Glass Center | Community Profile | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Emerge/Evolve is a small but mighty exhibition at Pittsburgh Glass Center

Sculptural works approach the organic

Emerge/Evolve is a small but mighty collection showcasing artists in the early stages of finding their expression through glass. This traveling exhibition was curated by Portland, Ore.'s Bullseye Glass Company, and is hosted locally by the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

The 14 artists represented bring a wide variety of styles and forms from all over the world. The show offers an experienced eye some up-and-coming talents, while opening a window for viewers unfamiliar with the medium. Slighter-scale pieces like Marion Delarue's "Blue Agate Bracelet," a perfect round bangle, or Amanda Simmons' "Bird and Bone" and "Feather From The Swallows I," both delicately brushed vessels, are accessible and possibly even practical. "Glass Lace I," by Manuela Castro Martins, is a lovely shallow bowl of graceful fused arcs of coral and charcoal.

Luscious: Rei Chikaoka's glasswork "Release"
Luscious: Rei Chikaoka's glasswork "Release"

In the single room that houses the exhibition, the two large hanging pieces immediately command your attention. "Untitled (Wall)," by Kate Clements, is an amber curtain of thistly lace, seemingly fragile, that cascades almost to the floor. Anna Mlasowsky's "Resonance" staggers panels of thick black patterns, steel strong, looming above. They're distinctly different in execution but stunning jawdroppers both, stirring and powerful.

Wall-mounted works include canvas-like pieces, such as Kathryn Wightman's "Posy," a nostalgic replication of cross-stitching, and James B. Thompson's "Lava Flow" — sandy, scratchy swirls on shiny latex black. "[insert title]," by Abram Deslautiers, crawls across one entire wall, spidery sticky tendrils alive with movement that you're sure continue when you look away. But they are momentarily frozen mid-creep, full of vibrancy and vitality.

Sculptural works approach the organic in either duplication or evocation of the natural world. Cheryl Wilson Smith's "Writer's Lichen" would not be out of place deep within the woods or on the ocean floor, and Rei Chikaoka's "Release" is a luscious spiraling coil of blood-orange and papaya juiciness — fresh, glistening, and enticingly ripe, but pricked with bits of metal. Conversely, Gina Zetts' "The Apartment" hails manmade constructs in its doll-sized interior, crafted with painted wallpaper, hardwood floors, a single window and a cozy armchair.

With just over a dozen artists and typically one work from each, Emerge/Evolve provides only a quick glimpse into contemporary glass work. But it's a glimpse intriguing enough to lead the viewer to search out more and give a longer, closer look.