CODA Gallery unveils a new exhibition of glass sculptures by Marlene Rose, running April 6-27. The artist from Clearwater, Fla., will attend an opening reception on April 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with El Paseo Art Walk/Palm Desert First Weekend.
On the cusp of earning a bachelor of fine arts degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, Marlene was on her way to becoming a professional artist when the pathway veered. “Glass was one of the last classes I took because it didn’t interest me at all,” she recalls. “People weren’t experimenting with it; they were making vessels. ”But the professor taught a sand-casting technique that, she says, “clicked with the way I think. It is very direct. The technique is a beautiful dance. It is very physical, and you feel a rush of adrenalin from working with something dangerous.” Sand-cast glass pieces are “not your typical glass,” she adds. “It is thick. It is not delicate. Because I am pouring [molten glass] into sand, it gains a texture, so it looks like it could be ancient — like something dug up.”
Indeed, digging things up fueled experimentation when Marlene culled scrap yards for metal (she especially liked the shape of camshafts) to incorporate into her work, particularly into bases. Since the scrap yard she frequented closed, Marlene has shifted to designing stands and frames that are “a little more slick,” but notes that a serendipitous acquisition of wood axles from Indonesia has inspired “a million ideas. ”Marlene’s repertoire focuses on themes. Her appreciation for ancient African and Asian art inspired her to create Buddha sculptures. And she likes the positive symbolism of bells and butterflies, the latter suggesting that “you can change and become anything you want,” she says.
Marlene’s work includes pedestal-top and freestanding pieces. For the April show, she also will showcase new wall-mounted sculptures that incorporate LED lighting. Speaking to the challenge of a technique that results in a piece that lies between being two and three dimensional, Marlene says she constantly asks herself, “How do I make this idea happen? It seems I am working on five bodies of work at a time — developing it, trying it this way and that."