untitled(inflatable) no. 55, 2008, fused and inflated glass, 12 x 20 x 9 in.

Heller Gallery announces Yale University Art Gallery’s acquisition of Matthew Szösz’s Inflatable sculpture untitled(inflatable)no. 55

Selected from his current exhibition Air Craft , on view at Heller Gallery through May 13, untitled(inflatable) no. 55 was fabricated utilizing an innovative technique of kiln fused and compressed-air inflated sheet glass. Seattle-based artist and educator, Matthew Szösz creates structures that push the boundaries of form, describing his process as an attempt to maximize serendipity and to allow a project to be guided by material and consequence, hoping to arrive at an unfamiliar and unpredicted place. 

Through video below, we invite you to Matthew’s studio to view a fascinating, 90- second demonstration of the making of an Inflatable sculpture.

Air Craft  focuses on new and recent works from Inflatables series, Szösz’s best-known body of work, which he has been experimenting with and making since 2005. The Inflatables are low-tension structures constructed at high temperatures with fused sheet glass and compressed air. While the design of each piece is determined in advance by the artist, myriad of outcomes – including some failures – lead to a successful piece.

Szösz describes his process: “My practice is an attempt to maximize serendipity, and to allow a project to be guided by material and consequence, arriving, in the end, in an unfamiliar and unpredicted landscape. I think a successful project should not only be surprising, but also achieve an identity independent of the artist, and to at least some degree, escape his control and mastery.”

Experimentation, a pathfinding interaction with material-driven process and an unmitigated quest for exploration drive Szösz’s work. Working primarily with glass, his performance-based experiments result in physical objects, which push the boundaries of form, and video works document a deep knowledge and unbridled desire to allow the material to lead him. “The partnership between myself & the material dictates the look of the finished work,” says Szösz.

However, over the past 18 years of working on the Inflatables, they have become more purposeful and designed. Starting with recycled window glass, intent now prevails, even if it still collides with Szösz’s ever-present desire for an unfiltered dialogue with the material. And while they will always be a memento of process, the works are gradually becoming a stronger expression of Szösz’s own vision, as seen in the use of color, iridescence, and increasingly sophisticated forms. 

Szösz describes himself as “the child of two ideas. The first is the unreconstructed artisanship tradition in which I was raised. The second is the church of ecstatic blue-collar Rock & Roll anarchy for which I volunteered. This is the territory that excites me—lying between the sensitive and considered restraint of learned technique and the manic populist energy of the rock-throwing iconoclast, described by an urgent elliptical oscillation between the two.”

Matthew Szösz received his BA (1996) & BID (1997) and his MFA (Glass) (2007) from Rhode Island School of Design. He has been recognized internationally with awards including the Irvine Borowsky Prize, the Jutta-Cuny Franz Prize, and a Tiffany Foundation Grant, and has completed numerous residencies in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. Szösz has taught in the USA at Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Washington, University of Hawai’i, Pilchuck Glass School, Penland School of Crafts and internationally at ASP Wrøcław, Reitveld Akademie and Bildwerk Frauenau and others, and has lectured and given numerous workshops around the world. He is the founding member of the curatorial group Hyperopia Projects and was Executive Director of Public Glass, a non-profit public access studio in San Francisco. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in private collections and public institutions in the United States, Australia, Europe & Japan including at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

Heller Gallery, founded in 1973 in New York, provides a curated platform for studio artists whose practice incorporates glass and whose work with the material broadens the horizons of contemporary culture.  The gallery identifies, nurtures and represents emerging artists as well as prominent international masters.    

Numerous artworks have entered preeminent public collections as a direct result of Heller Gallery’s exhibitions and advocacy.  New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art have acquired works from the gallery as has The Corning Museum of Glass, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and numerous museums worldwide, including Victoria & Albert Museum, Musee des Arts Decoratifs de Louvre, and Hokkaido Museum, among others. http://www.hellergallery.com

MATTHEW SZÖSZ: Air Craft – installation photos. Courtesy Heller Gallery