Amber Cowan is a sculptress who works exclusively with recycled vintage glass, and her art is just phenomenal for its intricate beauty and imaginative qualities, combined with an irresistible nostalgic pull. The above tableau is entitled Dance of The Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset (2019) — was part of an exhibit of her work at NYC’s Heller Gallery, which just closed this past weekend.
Amber’s work asks universal questions about rebirth, knowledge, desire and the transformative powers of labor and imagination. Her fantastical grotto-like assemblages are made of re-worked pressed glassware, once produced by some of the best known, but now-defunct, American glass factories. In her most recent, narrative wall sculptures, she creates intricate and exuberant settings for character-objects, which she has collected over years. Unabashedly showing her emotional investment in these objects, the artist pays spontaneous and spectacular homage to the history of US glass manufacturing.
She is currently working with a process which involves flameworking, blowing, and hot-sculpting recycled, up-cycled, and second-life glass that is usually American pressed glass from the 1940’s to the 1980’s. The glass used is generally sought through thrift stores, flea markets and post-production factory runs, the places where it is has been abandoned to the dust bins of American design.
No matter how confident I ever am that I know most of the street level galleries in Chelsea, today I stopped it to the Heller Gallery on Tenth Avenue and asked how long they’d been open, since this was the first time I’d noticed them. The answer, which was quite unexpected, is that they’ve been at that location almost two years! How have I missed that? I have a few ideas.
What had initially sucked me in off the street was a collection of blown glass works in the window. When I stepped farther back into the gallery, however, my eyes were dazzled by this piece by artist Katherine Gray, entitled A Rainbow Like You (2015); an installation of blown glass, acrylic and lightning. I couldn’t help but think of the work of artist Dale Chihuly; specifically, in his Persian Ceiling Gallery, which is beyond breathtaking.
This work sells for $25,000.
Heller Gallery is Located at 303 10th Ave. (between 27th and 28th Streets) in the Chelsea Gallery District.