SOFA Chicago

Kathleen Mulcahy

A Perestroilka of Form
By Kristina Olson

Kathleen Mulcahy’s glass sculptures have the most sensual relationship to organic forms.  They often imitate the look of liquid elements in nature drawn out by gravity.  But there is nothing of nature’s seemingly random complexity in these compositions. Instead, Mulcahy simplifies the irregularity of organic shapes to create beautifully controlled blown and flame-worked arrangements. It’s as if the artist has adapted Paul Cézanne’s famous instruction to, “treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, the cone.  Her glass elements may be prompted by something observed in the world, but they have been refined to a purified geometric form carefully set in a controlled composition….

Works in this series (Natural Forces) involve flame-worked or blown shapes attached to slumped plate glass backed by a fabricated steel sheet.  The plate glass is acid etched with a paintbrush giving the surface an unevenly clouded look that is still semi-transparent, revealing the metal surface behind.  The artist weathers these metal panels- embracing chance effects that give the surface a lived experience- sealing in the rust and wear that develops…

…luscious to behold.  One not only sees, but feels the show dripo of the glass in its once molten state,  The resulting elements now call to mind water droplets or a viscous fluid pulled down by gravity.