2016 Visiting Artist Series
This year’s artists included Hank Murta Adams and Rik Allen.
Oct. 20-23: Hank Murta Adams
Hank Murta Adams is one of the most imaginative, experimental, and collectible glass artists working today. As a RISD student (’78) he was painting portraits and landscapes before he met Dale Chihuly. That led him to glass studies at Pilchuck, Penland, and the Appalachian Center for Craft.
He developed a style that mixed humor with undertones of madness or cynicism, subversion or sadness. His signature heads often appear as if the nerves are on the outside. As one reviewer put it, his works are “heroic in scale, but anti-heroic in character.”
Born in Philadelphia in 1956, Murta is currently the Glass Studio Creative Director at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center in Millville, N.J.
March 3-6: Rik Allen
Our thanks to Rik Allen for bringing his retro-futuristic rocket visions to life while working live before our Studio audience.
Allen arrived at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state in 1995 and spent more than a decade working as a team member for one of the giants in glass art, William Morris. His reputation for exceptional glass finishing skills grew during this time, and in 2005 he and his artist wife established their own glass and sculpture studio. The two have placed works in top collections around the world and have traveled extensively to teach glass technqiues to students of the craft.
His work is clearly influenced by science and visions of space travel, but Allen says there is more at work here than what’s immediately obvious. One key is that it’s not sleekly futuristic. It’s a vision of the future from the past.
“My work is as much about outer space as inner space,” he said. “At first glance, the work may seem to be all about the exploration of the cosmos, but a closer look reveals more humble elements that speak of memory and transparency, revealing inner and outward perspectives.
“By incorporating elements that appear worn and experienced, as well as vestiges of an earlier era, I hope to give the work a sense of experimentation, invention, and exploration,” he continued. “My intent is to open up the imaginations of viewers whose own narratives shift as their minds move from exterior perspective of these vessels to inner possibilities.”
As befitting a space-inspired artist, during his time in Virginia, Allen visited with NASA scientists in our area. His work to create what NASA Langley Research Center engineers call a MMSEV is shown below. The real-life version of what he was building is scheduled to explore Mars in the late 2030s.