Statement: The Burnt Asphalt Family
By nature and necessity, traditional glassblowing is a fairly egoless endeavor. It is a collaborative process in which the creators identities are subsumed by the communal sweat and effort required to make a single object. Our concern is not in creating objects or destroying them but in demonstrating various properties and capabilities of glass through teamwork. We do not disregard traditional glassblowing but use it’s techniques to create forms to cook food, for example the hot glass dome that was placed over the turkey in “Turkey Dinner” aided in containing heat around the turkey in order to cook it. We use glass to function as cooking elements, referencing the ritual of eating a meal. However the creation of the work happens in a moment of interaction with our audience.
Our inspiration comes from American Society in the 1950s, which was much stricter and very structured. Society Rules were important not to be broken, there were no shades of gray, everything was black and white. Men did the lawn, took out the trash, fixed things, drove the car on family outings, and supported the family and women stayed at home to cook, clean, and take care of the family. In advertisements, TV shows and movies, the housewife is pictured perfectly well groomed as she is vacuuming, dusting, and cooking. The Betty Crocker cookbook and anything BBQ’D was the trend of the food in the 50’s, were the family meal times were an important part of bringing everyone together. It was an era of trying to keep up appearances of the perfect family. In response to that family ideal, we create the appearance of a well-orchestrated performance that investigates gender roles, family characters, and glass making while using the hot shop as our stage. Our goal is to create something temporary and ephemeral in nature that exist only by being recorded, similar to a moment in everyday life. The props and décor of the space add to the theatrical nature of the performance, which expands on the already exciting and mesmerizing nature of glass. Our audience are people both familiar and non-familiar with the medium and through the ritual of cooking, serving, and eating are brought together. This performance is a merge between a glass demo, a play, and an actual family dinner, meal, or event shared with the audience.
“The Burnt Asphalt Family” began as a collaboration at The Creative Glass Center of America between a group of all woman fellows, Jessica Jane Julius, Erica Rosenfeld, Maret Sarapu, Sara Gilbert and two other artists Sam Geer, and Skitch Manion. Art making normally has a strong sense of individualism but in glassblowing you normally rely on at least one partner if not more. Collaborating gives us access to greater resources of materials, experience, knowledge, and skill. CGCA created an environment that was conducive to collaborating through supporting the discovery of our new vision with the resources and opportunity to focus on its development. The first performance was “Turkey Dinner”, performed at Wheaton Arts, summer 2007. After Wheaton, the performances served to reunite us and to bring new people into our family. It has been a way for us to stay connected and creative in ways outside of our normal lives as artists while still sharing a love of glass. The second performance was an evolved “Turkey Dinner” which was performed at Urban Glass in Brooklyn NY in November of 2007. Some family members such as Maret, who resides in Estonia, were not able to participate while new members joined our family, such as Emma Salamon, Dena Pengas, Deborah Czersko, Adam Holtzinger, and Leo Tecosky. The third performance was the “Garden BBQ” at Urban in May 2008. This time members again were added while others could not participate. It is an evolving group of artists all interested in exploring new ways of working with glass. We are now planning for the next performance in 2009 at GAS conference in Corning NY, “TV Dinner.”
by Jessica Jane Julius