PROVIDENCE, RI.-This summer, The RISD Museum presents a special commissioned installation by artist Beth Lipman to create a site-specific work in its lower Farago Gallery based on her unique approach to reinterpreting older art forms in glass. Known for her contemporary takes on the still life painting, Lipman has explored this subject by creating three-dimensional renditions of this genre, transforming the compositions into glass often recalling religious and historical symbolism. For the Museum, she creates an installation inspired by a museum period room. During her visits to the Museum the artist was drawn to the galleries in Pendleton House, the American decorative arts collection housed in a purpose-built 1906 neo-Georgian house. Period rooms are fully furnished and decorated domestic interiors meant to trace the history and styles of a particular timeoften demonstrating the highest level of wealth from that era. Lipman created parts of the installation working with RISD Glass department students during a residency in March 2008.
Entitled After Youre Gone, Lipmans installation will fill the Farago gallery of the Museum. The exhibition features wallpaper inspired by a historic pattern in the museums collection, abstracted portraits, topiaries, molding, and a full-sized double settee derived from one owned by Charles Pendletonall made of glass. In addition, a work called Still Life with Metal Pitcher, 2007 will take center stage. This round table spills over with glass food, decanters, dishes, and other objects representing a bountiful feast. Some of the symbolic creatures found in still life paintings will inhabit this display. Lipman has created 800 glass snailsseveral hundred crawling on the table itself and another 500 traversing the gallerys crevices and nooks.
The period room is kind of an expansion of the idea of the still life, of compulsively displaying who we are by whats around us, she said. Drawing from the collection of furniture, wallpaper, silver, china, paintings and other objects, Lipman has created out of glass her own dramatic interior space reflecting the themes of affluence, material consumption, excess, and decay. Lipmans interpretation will have traces of the macabre including convex portraits made of black glass and a bastardized version of Museum wallpaper that drips into black slivers.
Calling glass, a frustrating medium, in which to work because of its delicate and dangerous nature, Lipman said she hopes her display will call into question what is beautiful, what is original, whether that matters, and how it relates to mortality. Unlike her recent works, which have focused on the banquet and the idea of the feast, this installation with its settee and double portraits suggests a more intimate gathering has taken place and that what remains is the result of a relationship between two people.
Beth Lipman studied at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and holds a B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Her work has been reviewed by ArtNews, The New York Times, Glass Magazine and American Craft Magazine. Lipman recently received a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship and she was the recipient of the 2006 Young Talent Award from UrbanGlass. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Canada. Her work is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Speed Museum, Louisville, KY and the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY; as well as private collections nationwide.