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Artist of the Month
May 2022

Artist of the Month

Kate Clements

Kate Clements is a talented young artist from Iowa City who lives and works in Philadelphia. Clements creates sculpture with kiln fired glass, constructing evocative montages that are visually reminiscent of delicate lace patterns. The objects seem to refer to all things old and delicate; things that are steeped in nostalgia, that are dusty-perhaps even ghostly. Clements is represented by Ken Saunders Gallery, Chicago, IL

Click on each photo to the right for a full picture.

Kate Clements

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

I construct delicate and ornate large-scale installations. These installations are made up of interlocking glass panels that mimic wallpaper patterns and flora imagery. The fragile nature of glass as a material mirrors the brilliance and impermanence of nature and our desire to shape and control it.

Like a garden, my work requires vision, tending, and patience.  The composition can be rigid with crisp sharp lines--or loose, soft, and cloud-like. My aim is to create harmony. Each glass panel is created, then curated in relation or reaction to the piece next to it. I invite the viewer into the work through its beauty. There is a preciousness in its delicacy that entices the viewer closer. The sense of awe dissipates and is replaced with a tension as the piece’s inherent fragility is revealed. Lurking behind every piece is its risk of demise. In response I’ve cultivated the gardener’s mindset of resilience. A garden is ultimately defined by its impermanence. It is through failures that I’ve learned and adjusted my methods of making and accepted the inevitable transience of my work.

My primary material is frit, a type of crushed glass. I sift, scatter, and push the sugary-like substance directly on a kiln shelf to shape and form each panel. This process is akin to drawing and at times painterly with the orchestration of material, color, and texture. I meticulously lay out a pattern, but there is a wonderful loss of control as the material is transformed in the kiln through time and temperature. It moves and melts in ways that are not always predictable. This symbiotic relationship of control and deviation has developed my visual language. I can conform it to a point, but given the chance it grows wild, reminiscent of the unbending will of nature.

I find inspiration in the history of the decorative arts and ornament and in critical theory around style and taste.  These historical trends sought to create/construct an ideal natural world that defied decay and death.  In my work, these decorative acts function as an aesthetic veil that draws attention only to reveal deficiencies. The work trembles with fragility, reflecting the precariousness of the constructed reality that is presented to the viewer. Transparent and ephemeral, it vacillates between memorial and portal. A nervous entanglement of crystalline flowers, frozen in time.

About Kate Clements

Kate Clements (b. 1989 in Iowa City) has been working with glass installations and headdresses that have been displayed nationally and internationally. She has exhibited at the Houston Center of Contemporary Craft, UrbanGlass in NYC, Bullseye Projects, the Delaware Contemporary, and S12 Gallery in Norway. Her work has been featured in Italian Vogue Gioiello, American Craft Magazine, and ROOMS Magazine. She holds an MFA in glass from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University.  Past residencies include the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, Pilchuck’s EAiR Program, and at S12 Gallery in Bergen, Norway.

There is a strange fastidiousness to Clements’ work, the fact of the obvious fragility of the artist’s tableaus is reinforced by the complicated patterns the artist has “weaved.” In her most ambitious works the glass elements seem to be hanging in thick layers, monofilament threads holding everything together invisibly, entire works seeming to float in space.

While there is plenty of beauty in these works, they do feel tinged with an eerie sadness, like something precious and long lost. Discovering these pieces invites rumination and retrospection.

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Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Ken Saunders Gallery, Chicago, Illinoiis, for providing the Artist of the Month.

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The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to further the development and appreciation of art made from glass.

The Alliance informs collectors, critics and curators by encouraging and supporting museum exhibitions, university glass departments and specialized teaching programs, regional collector groups, visits to private collections, and public seminars.