Casey McMains, Usher, USA 2021
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.
Based on Fall of the House of Usher, the imposing building facade (modeled after the ruins of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital in New York City), gives way to looming clouds and a twisted, gnarled tree, whose roots encompass the base of the vase.
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.
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