BROCKTON, MASS.- Fuller Craft Museum
, New Englands home for contemporary craft, presents A Lighter Hand: The Glass Drawings of Michael Janis, on display Aug. 6 Nov. 6, 2011. The exhibition features the recent work of the virtuosic Washington, DC-based artist, who was recently named a Fulbright Scholar.
Janis work is the result of a laborious and challenging process. Similar to scrafftio, where a design is scratched through a colored ground revealing another color beneath; to produce the image Janis sifts black glass powder onto sheet glass, scraping away the powder to produce the detail. The image is suspended between layers of sheet glass and fired in a kiln to fuse the constituent pieces together. In this manner any number of images can be combined to produce complex juxtapositions. The result is a collage produced entirely in glass, built from a time-consuming process allowing for an extended contemplation of his subjects.
Building on the legacy of Surrealist artists of the early 20th century, in particular Giorgio de Chirico whose paintings juxtaposed disparate objects in moody and indistinct landscapes, Janis is able to construct a contemplative feeling from the layering of seemingly inanimate objects and ambiguous characters. His images in glass, particularly those examples in a tall and narrow format, also allude to the narrative quality of stained glass. The juxtaposition of text, symbols, and figures seem to imply a hidden message or meaning, but like an ink blot or word association Janis leaves the viewer to provide their own conclusions.
Janis lives and works in Washington, DC, where he is Co-Director and an instructor at the Washington Glass School. He first began working with glass as an architect, evident in his dedication to sheet glass and the precision draftsmanship in his drawings.