Artist's fused-glass works capture fluidity of motion - Albuquerque Journal

Artist’s fused-glass works capture fluidity of motion

Palette Contemporary Art and Craft is hosting “Rock, Paper, Scissors … Glass?” a solo exhibition by artist Sarah Nelson through Dec. 30.

“Glimpse” by Sarah Nelson beautifully captures the essence of a commuter train hurtling past the constant decay and rebirth of metropolitan Chicago paled by distance and fading memory.

I knew little about Nelson or her work when I visited her new show, and I had a couple of other stops to make that day. So off I went only to be haunted by her work for the rest of the day.

Her mostly black-and-white imagery was big-city romantic and very familiar to one who grew up in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York and has visited Chicago several times.

As it happens, Nelson came to New Mexico 17 years ago from Chicago, where she discovered kiln glass making. Though her artistic journey is a fascinating story, suffice it to say she is a three-time Pilchuck Glass School residency recipient and a recovering textbook designer from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Nelson rode Chicago’s L train to work every day for 10 years, and the visual wreckage of constant metropolitan decay and rebirth became imbedded in her consciousness. It’s that fleeting mental picture-taking experience that informs Nelson’s imagery in such works as “Glimpse,” a nine-panel composition revealing structures paled by the distance of memory and the speed of a moving train.

“Road Tunes” by Sarah Nelson evokes an entire genre of American music inspired by endless highways and lonesome strangers along the way.

The late widely published writer and photographer Douglas Kent Hall found train travel to be a transcendental experience that guided his work as a rock ‘n’ roll stage photographer.

In contrast, abstract painter and Yale art professor Joseph Albers had to pull down the window shades when he rode on trains to shut out the visual chaos. But somehow, Nelson has embraced and embodied that ‘chaos’ and captured its essence in fused-glass panels.

In her “The Mind Plays Tricks” a six-panel arrangement, Nelson acknowledges the predicament offered up by our ever-changing lifestyles that leave scant seconds for the apprehension and processing of thoughts conjured by perceiving images and living structures while in motion.

Nelson’s “Road Tunes,” replete with a solid yellow center stripe, is one of several free-standing sculptural panels in the show. The glass panel mounted in and supported by a black metal framework depicts a section of highway altered by a shimmering black, white-and-gray section that could be a visual description of sound.

Is Janis Joplin belting out the lamenting story of a ruined relationship spoiled by one night of misalliance or dalliance during a road trip whose pounding beat was supported by the truck’s windshield wipers in a lonesome rainstorm?

I’ll let you call the tune.

Among several colorful pieces is my favorite, titled “Paragon.” Whether of virtue or merely named after her first professional kiln, it is an elegantly structured asymmetrical geometric predominantly blue composition that sings of creative joy. Nelson mentions in an artist statement that her first glass kiln offered the same level of excited anticipation as her childhood dream machine in the form of an “Easy Bake Oven.”

Her dolls always loved her cookies, and I love her beautiful fused-glass panels that so powerfully capture remembrances of things past.

“Rock, Paper, Scissors … Glass?” is a wonderful collection of Nelson’s glass art that includes scads of small pieces titled “Mile Markers” that cover a range of images beyond those already discussed. The mostly abstract series includes little line drawings, paintings and fragmented images inspired by photographs.

Several of the tiny “Mile Marker” drawings are reminiscent of a series done on paper by Santa Fe artist Mary Ristow about 20 years ago. I doubt any actual connection between the two artists but do find a parallel kinship of sensibilities.

This is a exhibition by a talented and intelligent artist that shouldn’t be missed. Two thumbs up.

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Artist’s fused-glass works capture fluidity of motion

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

Want to force bulbs this winter? Here's how.
You need to decide which of ... You need to decide which of the two traditional methods of forcing you are going to employ. You can force in a draining ...
Albuquerque author David E. Stuart writing book exploring Chacoan ...
'The Chacoan World: A Legacy of ... 'The Chacoan World: A Legacy of Gardens' is part of a new book series from the University of New Mexico Press titled 'New Century ...
Roswell is home to an arts and cultural history ...
The Roswell Museum that dates back ... The Roswell Museum that dates back to 1937 counts some 9,000 works in its collection, said executive director Caroline Brooks.
A look at five items from the National Museum ...
The National Museum of Nuclear Science ... The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History provides an objective, accessible window into the past, present and future of nuclear science.
For Elizabeth Kirk and her father Michael, crafting jewelry ...
Elizabeth credits growing up watching her ... Elizabeth credits growing up watching her father mold, incise and polish jewelry with jump-starting her own career.
Adobe Theater brings the Tony Award-winning musical to stage
The first few minutes of 'The ... The first few minutes of 'The Drowsy Chaperone' occur in complete darkness, while an anxious but companionable voice drifts from the stage.
NMPhil celebrating winter with a series of concerts
The New Mexico Philharmonic is gearing ... The New Mexico Philharmonic is gearing up for its Winter Festival with multiple 'Messiahs,' holiday pops and the 'Carol of the Bells.'
Vortex Theatre to bring folk tales, legends and more ...
The show opens on Friday, Dec. ... The show opens on Friday, Dec. 2, continuing on weekends through Dec. 18.
Here's what happening at Bishop's Lodge for the holidays
Santa Fe resort hosts its first-ever ... Santa Fe resort hosts its first-ever holiday market