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Fragile Tectonics

Peter Bremers at the FWMoA

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader


After the incredibly exciting summer glass show in 2013, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art has attempted to repeat its success with "Peter Bremers: Inward Journey", and "The 42nd Annual International Glass Invitational Award Winners". Both of these exhibitions are incredible visual treats and turn their galleries into beautiful, moody spaces as the light projected through glass sculptures is scattered.

A large part of this exhibitions success truly was its lighting. While the glass sculptures themselves are beautiful, they truly come to life when light passes through them. Peter Bremers' work is lit with an incredible accuracy, providing the viewer with a vibrant, shimmering surface on the object, an internal glow highlighting composition and interlacing patterns, and finally, produces colored shadows below and around the pieces themselves which sometimes actually steal the show from the art object.

Bremers work itself, aptly entitled "Icebergs and Paraphernalia" is primarily drawing forth the idea that modern man has progressively lost touch with its connection to the natural world through the replacement of daily rituals to appease gods, being an overarching anxiety about changing weather patterns and a faith-like reliance on science. Through this isolationistic relationship to nature, Bremers' work becomes very totemic. These small "icebergs" literally represent a static version of the things which we are losing at an exponential rate.

Because of this premise with which his work has been made, Peter Bremers' sculpture also becomes a signifier for the psychological sublime, reminding us of our insignificance in the face of the energies and systems necessary to keep nature working. This reminder is not one of vanitas, but an insistence that we much actively engage with the environment around us, to more wholly experience life. Bremers' notes, "I can only say that, for me, the overwhelming emotion I felt when a mother whale and her calf swam alongside our boat and looked me long and hard in the eye was a life-changing experience. As was my sense of insignificance in the face of the savage energy of the oceans and of delight at the sight of yet another majestic sunrise over a landscape of drifting icebergs, the Creators own magnificent sculpture park."

And so the process of unraveling these psychological sublimes has be notated with glass sculptures rather than journals, or documentary films. Bremers gives us these objects to relate to his personal experiences and "The Inward Journey" which he goes on while he is traveling great distances to find this inspiration through nature. By working with glass and the field of sculpture specifically, Bremers is introducing the relationship to nature in every aspect of his work. Far from the virtual processes associated with drawing, painting, and printmaking, sculptural practices are as much about the working through of raw materials as it is about the conceptual content of the object. In our modern world, the material advances of industrialization and commercialization have allowed us both incredible variety and endurance in our objects. The availability of these "things" directly points back to Bremers' premise that we have lost or are losing our connection to the natural world and its processes are seen as problematic rather than a gift- rain is now a nuisance in the face of 24/7 grocery stores rather than the bringer of life for our crops and livestock.

In all of this, Bremers' reliance on kiln cast glass becomes important. With more than thousands of options, this one was chosen. After his beginning interest in glass work through blown glass, Bremers was inspired by a trip to Antarctica, and he found kiln casting as a way to allude to the rugged beauty of the ice sheet. In this way, much of Bremers work can pull the viewer back to the times of modern abstraction and the likes of Henry Moore, who used more natural forms in the construction of their metaphorical work. However, Bremers work is distinctly made not to "use" these metaphors of nature as the modernists did, but to inspire a love for the natural aesthetic in his viewers.

In Bremers' pieces, like "Icebergs and Paraphernalia 198", the sculptures are meant to represent the extremes of both nature and the cast glass's material ability. The simultaneous sharp and smooth nature of the glass imitates ice so perfectly, showing that context and scale are so important when judging the "moral values" of natural phenomenon. Again, in pieces like "Icebergs…26", and "Icebergs…4", Bremers mirrors specific physical attributes inherent to the materiality of glass with the natural process of ice and snow accumulation, and lights play upon both.

In all, "The Inward Journey" is one of the most beautiful and though provoking exhibitions this writer has scene in Fort Wayne in quite a while, and is a testament to the Fort Wayne Museum of Arts seemingly new shift towards more progressive artists and curatorial focuses.

Peter Bremers: Inward Journey &
The 42nd Annual International Glass Invitational Award Winners
Through August 31, 2014

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