Video Interview: Matthew Szösz

Matthew Szösz’s Minimal Tension exhibition might be over, but his glass sculptures are still on view across our ground floor. While the Seattle-based artist was in Santa Fe for his show, we interviewed him about his artistic process and career. He discussed his Inflatables and Ropework series, which figured prominently into the exhibition. Watch the video above to learn more about Szösz, and browse all of his available artwork in the form & concept collection.

THIS FRIDAY: Inner Orbit & Erika Lynne Hanson

Two exhibitions debut at form & concept on Friday, as part of our Second Anniversary Celebration! Learn more about them below, and make sure to RSVP for the party on Facebook.

Hillerbrand + Magsamen- Higher Ground Photograph- Inner Orbit Exhibition- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Exhibition

Inner Orbit

Opening Reception: Friday, May 25, 5-7 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, June 9, 2-3 pm

From a human perspective, the night sky is a densely layered cultural landscape. Long before they were subjects of scientific study, stars were laden with countless overlapping mythologies. Fortune tellers, sailors, writers, architects and artists have all projected profound meaning into the cosmos—tying earthly events to the movements of heavenly bodies. Inner Orbit spotlights contemporary artists with personal or cultural visions of outer space. Many of the featured artists meld fine art and craft mediums with technology for a fresh look at the firmament.

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Above: Hillerbrand + Magsamen, Higher Ground- Family, archival inkjet print, 2015.

Erika Lynne Hanson- Movement Choir- Site Specific Installation- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Exhibition

Erika Lynne Hanson

Movement Choir: Landscape Scores

Opening Reception: Friday, May 25, 5-7 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, May 26, 2-3 pm

Arizona artist Erika Lynne Hanson weaves a hidden history of the Southwest into her solo exhibition Movement Choir: Landscape Scores. Using a coded language in her fiber and new media artworks, Hanson charts the paths of Cold War missile tests from Green River, Utah to White Sands, New Mexico. The rusty remnants, scattered over more than 600 miles of desert, represent open questions about the nature of humanity and our relationship to nature.

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Above: Erika Lynne Hanson, Movement Choir: Green River, site specific installation, 2017.

TODAY: Debra Baxter | Artist Talk

Debra Baxter- Sculptor- Santa Fe New Mexico- Form and Concept Gallery
Debra Baxter at form & concept. Photo by Suzanna Finley.

Come meet Debra Baxter and join her on an interactive tour of her exhibition, Tooth & Nail! She’ll conduct an artist talk today (Saturday, 5/19) from 2-3 pm. The show opened late last month, and Albuquerque photographer Suzanna Finley stopped through to take some incredible photos of the reception. Scroll down for more shots, and make sure to stop by form & concept today.

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Debra Baxter- Tooth and Nail Sculpture Exhibition- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Debra Baxter- Tooth and Nail Sculpture Exhibition- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Debra Baxter at Form and Concept Gallery- Sculptor- Santa Fe New Mexico-

Debra Baxter- Tooth and Nail Sculpture Exhibition- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Debra Baxter- Tooth and Nail Sculpture Exhibition- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Debra Baxter at Form and Concept Gallery- Sculptor- Santa Fe New Mexico

Photos by Suzanna Finley.

Artist Talk: Debra Baxter | Tooth & Nail

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Debra Baxter has exhibited her sculptures and jewelry at form & concept since the gallery’s founding in May 2016. She helped lay the foundations of the gallery’s mission: to challenge preconceived notions about art, craft and design and blur their borders. “Debra is a master of what I call ‘material inversion,’” says Frank Rose, Gallery Director at form & concept. “She might pair soft materials with hard ones, or take it one step further and make a dense medium look like it’s light and flowing. She creates invigorating visual and tactile experiences, but there’s also a boundary-shattering conceptual element to the work.”

Baxter will conduct an artist talk on Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 pm. Tooth & Nail opens on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through June 16, 2018.

Learn more about this exhibition.

Events

Opening Reception | Friday, April 27, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook
Artist Talk | Saturday, May 19, 2-3 pm | RSVP on Facebook
Closing Reception | Saturday, June 15, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook

Artist Interview: Debra Baxter | Tooth & Nail

Santa Fe sculptor Debra Baxter presents a new series of sculptural artworks in her solo exhibition, Tooth & Nail. The show opened on April 27, 2018. Baxter will appear at an artist talk on Saturday, May 19, 2-3 pm, and a closing reception on Saturday, June 15, 5-7 pm. On a studio visit this winter, she talked about her work as a sculptor and jeweler, her influences, and the new body of work. 

You moved to Santa Fe from Seattle almost three years ago. How has your practice changed since you got here?

I feel really happy here, and solid. That solidity and happiness and the sunshine all make a massive difference in my joy. I feel like there might be more levity and light in me that might come out in the work.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Face Down About to Get Up and Fight, cast glass, citrine 4.5 x 5 x 3 in.

That makes sense. It seems like part of your practice is about bringing your emotional world into the third dimension.

A good example of that is this idea of attachment. My husband is a woodworker. In order to make the things connect correctly, they have to both be flat. There’s a level of detail that’s insane that he’s really good at and  can advise me about.

In an emotional sense, I feel like I’m looking for a secure attachment and I almost get too attached to people and things. The thing about attachment is that you try to control it. That’s when it gets dangerous, when you’re trying to control someone else or the relationship. I made a sculpture once that was called It’ll Stop Screaming if You Let Go of It. 

Sculpting seems like a good way to work through those feelings. You’re constantly picking up new materials and swapping and combining and dropping them. 

Yeah, I’m always trying to figure out new, different materials. I’m trying to manipulate them, to figure out the edges of what I can control and what I can’t. It’s about realizing that sometimes you can only control so much, and after that you have to let it be what it is.

My art would get very stagnant if I stopped playing around and pushing. The thing about play that’s important is that failure is fine. It’s the risk-taking that’s important. This thing can fail and it could be a nightmare—maybe I wasted time and money—but who cares? Sometimes the failure is like, “Oh, now it looks better because I dropped it.”

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Crystal Brass Knuckles- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Aqua Aura Knuckles, bronze, crystal quartz, 4 x 4.5 x 2 in.

Does your work as a jeweler help you take bigger risks as a sculptor?

The processes definitely influence each other. I use sculpture processes on my jewelry—like using an angle grinder to grind things, which no one in their right mind would do. On the flip side, If I took some of my sculptural stuff to a jewelry caster, they would probably say, “That’s way too big! That’s not going to happen!” The possibilities open up a lot more, the more processes you learn.

The reason I got interested in jewelry, as much as I wanted to make jewelry, had to do with the fact that certain objects are more powerful on the body. Your body brings a certain power to it. With the crystal brass knuckles series, it’s so much more powerful on the hand.

In addition to jewelry and adornment, you’ve recently taken a big interest in drapery.

I’m really interested in the history of drapery in art. It’s such a weird ancient practice, to draw drapery. Sculptors have been carving drapery out of stone forever. It made me wonder how else I could translate fiber into other materials, like the bronze throwing stars that are cast from lace. 

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Lace Throwing Star, bronze, 5 x 5 in.

How does all of this play into your solo exhibition, Tooth & Nail

I’m doing a lot of inversion in the show. It’s about the relationship and the tension between two objects. Sometimes they’re almost touching, but not. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about how can art be transformational. That’s a hard thing to control. Maybe my art can give other people power to make their art. I love that idea, that your power is giving other people power. Again, it’s about letting go.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Together, cast glass, fluorite, 4.5 x 7 x 2 in.

Click here to browse all of the artwork in Tooth & Nail. 

 

TONIGHT: Debra Baxter & Matthew Szösz.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, We Are the Champions, bronze, 11 x 11 x 2.5 in.

Tonight (Friday, 4/27) from 5-7 pm, form & concept hosts an opening reception for two sculpture shows: Tooth & Nail by Debra Baxter, and Minimal Tension by Matthew Szösz. Both solo exhibitions have received some great coverage in local press over the past few months. Baxter was the cover artist for The Magazine‘s February issue, and the subject of a feature article by Jenn Shapland. Here’s an excerpt:

Debra Baxter has just chucked something across her studio. A five-pointed throwing star sticks firmly into the opposite wall. She’s about to throw another, but first she shows it to me. It’s elegant lace made of metal. The tips have been sharpened. Baxter’s work occupies several unlikely but generative intersections: between the fierce and the sentimental, between museum pieces and ready-to-wear jewelry. Since her early pieces in alabaster, Baxter has tried to find a way to use sculpture to harness a woman’s voice, her source both of power and of vulnerability.

Tooth & Nail also scored a shout-out in this week’s Santa Fe Reporter. Here’s a tidbit from Alex De Vore’s calendar pick:

Sculptor Debra Baxter’s propensity for crafting armor and weaponry-adjacent pieces from metal, stone and wood belies the subtly elegant touches rampant throughout her work. […] Representational this is not; intriguing and borderline dangerous it is. Good luck not getting sucked in.

Matthew Szösz Glass Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Matthew Szösz, untitled (inflatable) no. 75g, glass, 19 x 9 x 19 in.

Matthew Szösz is in town this weekend for the opening, and will also conduct an artist talk on Saturday, April 28 from 2-3 pm. His exhibition of glass sculptures, Minimal Tension, got a spotlight in this week’s Pasatiempo. Michael Abatemarco writes:

Matthew Szösz’s sculptures are dynamic works in glass made using a variety of tools and techniques. Minimal Tension, an exhibition that draws from two ongoing series, Inflatables and Ropework, opens Friday, April 27.

The show was also featured in Santa Fe Arts Journal‘s email newsletter, in a write-up by Emily Van Cleve:

For Szösz, setting up just one glass art experiment is an involved process, with preparation taking anywhere from a half a day to four weeks. Sometimes the sculpture works out fine, but it also can shatter into a million pieces.

Preview both shows on our exhibition page, and make sure to stop by for the opening reception tonight and Matthew’s artist talk tomorrow!

Opening: Debra Baxter | Tooth & Nail

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“This thing could fail, and it could be a nightmare,” says Debra Baxter. “But who cares?” The Santa Fe sculptor makes artworks that combine divergent materials—metal, glass and stone, for example—so there’s always a risk that they’ll split apart during the creative process. Informed by her passion for armor and weaponry, Baxter charges ahead fearlessly to create elegant and sometimes dangerous objects. Her new solo exhibition at form & concept, Tooth & Nail, includes flowing bronze breastplates that hold glittering minerals, and metal throwing stars that are cast from lace. There’s also a wicked bronze-and-quartz sculpture from her Smithsonian-collected brass knuckles series. “I’ll often emerge from these crazy material experiments bruised—but I’m never broken,” says Baxter. 

Baxter’s solo exhibition Tooth & Nail opens on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through June 16, 2018. Baxter will conduct an artist talk on Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 pm.

Learn more about this exhibition.

Events

Opening Reception | Friday, April 27, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook
Artist Talk | Saturday, May 19, 2-3 pm | RSVP on Facebook
Closing Reception | Saturday, June 15, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook

Opening: Matthew Szösz | Minimal Tension

RSVP on Facebook.

For Matthew Szösz, setting up just one glass art experiment is an involved process. The preparation takes half a workday in some cases, and up to four weeks in others. It all leads to that pivotal moment, when the sculpture either takes its final shape or shatters into a million pieces. The Seattle-based artist has repeated this process countless times—with about 75% of his work instantly collapsing into rubble. This spirit of fearless experimentation is reflected in his dazzlingly innovative, award-winning oeuvre.

Szösz debuts new works from two of his ongoing series, Inflatables and Ropework, in his solo exhibition Minimal Tension. The show opens at form & concept on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, coinciding with the opening reception for Debra Baxter: Tooth & Nail. Szösz conducts an artist talk on Saturday, April 28 from 2 to 3 pm, and the show runs through May 19, 2018.

Learn more about this exhibition.
Read an interview with Matthew Szösz.

Preview: Debra Baxter | Tooth & Nail

“This thing could fail, and it could be a nightmare,” says Debra Baxter. “But who cares?” The Santa Fe sculptor makes artworks that combine divergent materials—metal, glass and stone, for example—so there’s always a risk that they’ll split apart during the creative process. Informed by her passion for armor and weaponry, the artist charges ahead fearlessly to create elegant and sometimes dangerous objects.

Baxter’s new solo exhibition, Tooth & Nail, includes flowing bronze breastplates that hold glittering minerals, and metal throwing stars that are cast from lace. There’s also a wicked bronze-and-quartz sculpture from her Smithsonian-collected brass knuckles series. “I’ll often emerge from these crazy material experiments bruised—but I’m never broken,” says Baxter. Tooth & Nail opens on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through June 16, 2018. Baxter conducts an artist talk on Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 pm, and hosts a closing reception on Friday, June 15 from 5 to 7 pm.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Unapologetic Glory, bronze, alabaster, 20 x 8 x 6 in.

Baxter has exhibited her sculptures and jewelry at form & concept since the gallery’s founding in May 2016. She helped lay the foundations of the gallery’s mission: to challenge preconceived notions about art, craft and design and blur their borders. “Debra is a master of what I call ‘material inversion,’” says Frank Rose, Gallery Director at form & concept. “She might pair soft materials with hard ones, or take it one step further and make a dense medium look like it’s light and flowing. She creates invigorating visual and tactile experiences, but there’s also a boundary-shattering conceptual element to the work.”

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Wind Knocked In, amethyst, bronze, mopany, 9.5 x 16 x 5 in.

The artist moved from Seattle to Santa Fe in August 2015, a radical leap away from the city where she established her career. Originally from Nebraska, she earned her MFA at Bard College and moved to Washington State in the late 1990’s. Baxter drew inspiration from Seattle’s legendary punk rock scene to create a series of wearable sculptures. Her crystal brass knuckles, made from gemstones and bronze, caught the eye of a curator at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. One of the artworks landed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian in 2016. Baxter’s passion for bodily adornment also lead her to create a long-running jewelry collection called DB/CB, consisting of bronze pendants that cradle gems and minerals.

“The reason I got interested in jewelry had to do with the way that certain objects are more powerful on the body,” says Baxter. “Your body brings a certain energy to the object.” Not all of the works in Tooth & Nail reference personal ornamentation, but every piece carries a certain talismanic force. “Art can be transformational. It’s a hard thing to control, but no matter what medium I’m working with, I want to give people that experience,” Baxter says. Her process always begins with freewheeling experimentation.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Face Down About to Get Up and Fight, cast glass, citrine, 4.5 x 5 x 3 in.

The artist frequently picks up materials she’s never used before, searching for novel ways to engage the histories of sculpture, jewelry, weaponry or drapery. For Tooth & Nail, the events of the #MeToo movement have fed into her continued interest in the strength, vulnerability and the raw power of the female voice. The courage of these women has activated work with a blend of toughness and vulnerability. “These contrasting materials carry a similar spirit,” she explains. “My sculptures sometimes look delicate, but when they’re finished, they are structurally resilient.”

Tooth & Nail features artworks made from glass, bronze, minerals, wood, bone and alabaster—often in surprising combinations. “It usually starts with a seemingly impossible question: ‘I have this piece of lace, how do I make it metal?’” Baxter says. “Then it’s about play. My art would get very stagnant if I stopped playing around and pushing. It’s the risk-taking that’s important.” It’s inevitable that some of her experiments will collapse, but sometimes she finds unexpected success while wrestling with entropy. “Sometimes the failure is like, ‘Oh, now it looks better because I dropped it,’” Baxter says.\

Preview the full exhibition.
RSVP on Facebook.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, A Little Bit Like Fun, glass, picasso stone, 6 x 5.5 x 6.5 in.

Preview: Matthew Szösz | Minimal Tension

Matthew Szösz- Glass Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Matthew Szösz, Ouroboros, fused glass, 24 x 24 x 14 in.

For Matthew Szösz, setting up just one glass art experiment is an involved process. The preparation takes half a workday in some cases, and up to four weeks in others. It all leads to that pivotal moment, when the sculpture either takes its final shape or shatters into a million pieces. The Seattle-based artist has repeated this process countless times—with about 75% of his work instantly collapsing into rubble.

This spirit of fearless experimentation is reflected in his dazzlingly innovative, award-winning oeuvre. Szösz debuts new works from two of his ongoing series, Inflatables and Ropework, in his solo exhibition Minimal Tension. The show opens at form & concept on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, with an artist talk on Saturday, April 28 from 2 to 3 pm. It runs through May 19, 2018.

“I am something of an outsider in my practice—lacking traditional training in glass, and autodidactic in my use of the material,” says Szösz. After studying furniture design for his undergraduate degree, he entered the glass world as a studio assistant. “I was a mold maker and a hardware person and a tool maker, and I just kept getting traded from one glass artist to another,” he says. By the time he entered the graduate program at the Rhode Island School of Design in his early 30’s, he was more than prepared to break every rule he’d learned in glass studios. In pursuit of unique and dramatic sculptural forms, Szösz began dreaming up experiments that would push the material to its limits.

Matthew Szösz- Glass Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Matthew Szösz, Floret, fused glass, 21 x 16 x 21 in.

“I had a professor who said, ‘no surprise for the artist, no surprise for the audience,’” Szösz says. “That surprise, where it’s as much a product of the material and circumstance that you set up as well as your own vision, is the thing that’s exciting for me.” He calls some of his experiments “material/process investigations” and others “bad ideas.” Either way, the key is to set up novel conditions in the studio, shifting heat, humidity and other variables to see how the glass responds. It’s a winding process—part scientific, part artistic—that has yielded significant treasures, such as Szösz’s Inflatables series.

Szösz builds the Inflatables using flat sheets of window glass, linking them together with tubes that channel air. He slips sheets of ceramic between the panes to keep the glass from fusing in certain places. The final step is to heat the piece to a molten state and blast air through the tubes, with the hope that it will inflate like a balloon but not burst. When he succeeds, Szösz emerges with a glass pod that resembles an enormous, clear chrysalis—or perhaps a lava monster’s pool toy. “There’s a certain amount of suspense and surprise,” Szösz explains. “When it actually does work, you get the idea that you’re working as a team with the material, kind of a partnership rather than just imposing your idea on something else.”

Matthew Szösz- Glass Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Matthew Szösz, untitled (inflatable) no. 70b, fused and inflated glass, 10 x 8 x 8 in

The artist developed his Ropework series over the course of seven years. The project started as an attempt to capture the twisted, bulging lines of Japanese temple ropes called Shimenawa using glass fiber. “The exploration moved from the creation of glass fiber pulling machines to a re-purposing of industrial fibers, to studies of British Empire-era ropemaking and sailor knot tying culture to create the geometric forms currently produced as part of the series,” says Szösz.

Considering the breadth of his creative inquiries, it’s no surprise that Szösz has a full array of art world honors under his belt. He was an Emerging Artist-in-Residence at Pilchuck Glass School in 2007, and a Wheaton Fellow in 2008. In 2009 he was an artist-in-residence at Nagoya Institute for the Arts and taught a workshop at Toyama Glass Institute. Szösz won the 2009 Jutta Cuny-Franz Memorial Award, becoming the second American ever to do so. In 2011 he was a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Winner, and a year later he was selected by the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery as one of the top young craft artists in America for their exhibition 40 under 40.

“We’re particularly excited for Matthew’s artist talk on April 28, when we’ll show some videos of his process,” says form & concept Gallery Director Frank Rose. “Whether you’re a glass nerd or totally removed from that universe, you will marvel at how he brings these sculptures to life.”

Learn more about this exhibition.
RSVP for the opening reception.
RSVP for the artist talk.