Casey McMains, Annabel, USA, 2018
Artist Casey McMains has made a name for herself through her intricately carved cameo glass vessels. Her interests in mythology, symbolism, comparative religion, and history have strongly influenced the themes and perspectives in her remarkable works. While her process is rooted in old-world craftsmanship, it is implemented with a decidedly contemporary perspective. After meeting Todd Merrill in 2017, the two collaborated on the concept of a cohesive collection of works with a distinctly narrative direction in a Gothic style, using the poetry and stories of Edgar Allan Poe as the genesis.
The genesis of Annabel, is Poe’s last complete poem “Annabel Lee”. The vessel takes the form of a bottle-shaped or pear-shaped vase. Much like Lenore the central theme of the poem is the death of a beautiful woman, which Poe called “the most poetical topic in the world.” The poem’s narrator describes his love for Annabel Lee, which began many years ago in a “kingdom by the sea”. McMain’s intricately detailed carving is dynamically rendered with the face of Annabel in the foreground, encompassing the bulb of the vase, while a dramatic cliffside rises from behind Annabel in the background. In addition to the fairytale like rhyme and rhythm of the poem and a sense of the supernatural the poem ends on a unusually hopeful note with the narrator assured of their reunion. Likewise, McMains’ Annabel is infused with a Gothic romanticism with Annabel, in her finality, forever encompassed in glass.
McMains’ works have been celebrated for their dynamic imagery and meticulous balance between form and image. She believes that the form of the vessel gives shape to the image and the image gives life to the vessel. “When someone handles the piece; to touch and feel the art, another connection is formed with the artwork and the viewer; with the viewer and the artist,” she says. The alchemy of glass work, with its reliance on each of the four classical elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) is of particular interest to McMains. In working with glass she has found a certain kind of magic – sculpting with light and shadow, transparency, translucency and opaqueness to create something both timely and timeless.
Dimensions: 15.5h x 9w x 9d inches
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