Mel Willis and “Materiality”

'Materiality' by Mel Willis

Photo credit: Rachel Harris

Visitors to the exhibition “Materiality” at the Light Square Gallery in Adelaide, Australia this past summer caught a glimpse of a town thousands of miles away, but familiar to those who have visited The Corning Museum of Glass.

During her 2013 residency at The Studio, artist Melinda Willis captured details of the architecture and landscape of Corning, NY in photographs that became a part of her work featured in the solo exhibition. Willis’ complex assembled glass pieces are constructed through casting, slumping, laminating, and cold working techniques, combined with the use of ceramic decals and mirrored elements.

More about “Materiality” from the artist:

In this exhibition I am presenting a series of large-scale architectural pieces referencing and celebrating one of the most prevalent building materials in modern architecture: float glass. It is produced just as it sounds; molten glass is floated over a ‘bed’ of liquid tin, resulting in very uniform sheet glass with perfect visual and optic clarity. This was a highly significant development for glass as an architectural material. Since the 1950’s, sheet glass has been manufactured at high volumes in a very cost effective manner and from this, the built environment of today was shaped. Float glass has had a tremendous impact on the way we interact with and perceive our surroundings.


In my artwork, I survey ubiquitous urban spaces by way of their reflections and transfer these digital observations to fused and slumped sheet glass planes that are layered one, upon the other, building complex almost live imagery. These artworks encourage the viewer to experience a phenomenon that is so often overlooked in the everyday urban landscape. Through the materiality of glass, my work invites the viewer to experience oneself momentarily captured within the illusory space that is the window of a building, a revolving door, or glass clad facade of a skyscraper. I examine glass as an omnipresent industrial material, as a medium for expression and an intermediary for an everyday urban experience; combining different perceptions of glass. By doing so, I aim to construct works that are not only deconstructed and dislocated, but echo a close familiarity of delineated space that everyone has encountered at some point in time.

Watch an interview with Mel from her time as a resident artist here in Corning, and learn more about Artist Residencies at The Studio. Applications for 2016 residencies are due October 31.

Materiality photographs courtesy of the artist, photography credit: Rachel Harris.

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