Looking at the Collection: The Elegant Vessel

Haws Gallery

January 31 – April 4, 2021

Shane Fero, Jade Moon Bottle, 2008, hot and flameworked glass, 17 x 7 x 7 in. Museum Purchase, funds provided by Alice Chang.

Assuming the form of a cup, bowl, pitcher, or vase used for holding liquids or other contents, the vessel as a utilitarian object dates back millennia. The Elegant Vessel explores this essential form in various guises, highlighting its inherent beauty as well as its capability to serve as a metaphor for extended meaning. The exhibition includes historical and contemporary works from the Museum’s permanent collection in glass, ceramic, metal and wood — all traditional materials used to create functional vessels, but transformed into fine art in the hands of their skilled makers. Featured artists include Shane Fero, Benjamin Moore, Robin Rodgers, Rosanne Somerson, and many more.

The voluptuous forms of classic vessels provide the inspiration for many artists working today. Dante Marioni reveals a confident mastery of glass in his attenuated blown glass Leaf Vase Pair, inspired by ancient Mediterranean prototypes. Striking a balance between form, color, proportion, and process are Shane Fero’s engaging flameworked glass Jade Moon Bottle, Rude Osolnik’s deceptively minimal turned wood Bowl, and Benjamin Moore’s technically accomplished blown glass Selenium Red Interior Fold Platter.

In other hands, the vessel form communicates beyond its inherent timeless beauty. Pat Musick’s steel, oak and stone wall piece, Treasure, captures an essential element of nature in its porous and fluid grasp. And Rosanne Somerson’s mahogany and mother of pearl sculpture, Lucky at Love, features a textured iridescent bowl held aloft, suggesting a metaphorical container for something that cannot be contained.

With this exhibition we salute the enduring vessel in its many refined possibilities, and thank those artists whose creative talents have expanded our appreciation and view of this familiar yet iconic form. Organized by HMA.

Virtual Studio Tour with Shane Fero