To Wisconsin-based multi-media artist Beth Lipman, glass represents life – there is a beginning and an end, there is change, it is fragile, it is precious. For over a decade glass has been the material of choice for Lipman who is considered one of the most compelling conceptual artists working in glass today.
Recently Beth Lipman sat down with the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art's Erin Dziedzic, curator and head of adult programs, to discuss two of her works on view in the atrium of the Museum. Pocket Watch, Book, Skull and Candles (2011) is a large-scale still-life photograph of pristine glass objects, including a decanter, goblet, candle sticks, and flowers in a vase set against a saturated black background. Lipman’s Still Life with Kudzu (2010) is a sculptural installation of glass vessels and objects carefully arranged on a table and placed in front of a white surface wallpapered with hundreds of glass pieces shaped like kudzu leaves.
Over the years, Lipman has become interested in examining materialism and our "religion of consumerism" in the still life genre. In the Kemper Museum's atrium the works are shown together, adding a new especially poignant dynamic to the examination.
"The elusivity of the material, the way that glass frustrates your eye. You are seeing reflections. You are seeing through the work. You are never able to visually own the work is really important when it comes to this idea of desiring objects – acquiring objects. The two dimensional prints are an evolutionary outcome of my train of thought in terms of using this material that's quite elusive. What if I remove the material completely and reduce something that was three dimensional back into the two dimensional."
Pocket Watch, Book, Skull and Candles (2011) and Still Life with Kudzu (2010) are on view in the atrium at the Kemper Museum.
Produced in collaboration with KCUR 89.3 FM, Kemper ARTcasts is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art's podcast series. This project brings the voices and insights of artists, as well as community and curatorial voices, to a broad range of listeners.