"Glass Graphica" Shines at the HCCC

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Glass is a substance that so easily appears beautiful. It is shiny and smooth, and conjures connotations of "pretty" things, like baubles, Christmas ornaments and stylish perfume bottles. To turn glass into something conceptual, difficult and perplexing, is a skill not known to many. This skill is understood, however, by two artists whose works appear side-by-side in the current exhibition, "Glass Graphica" at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Artists Moshe Bursuker and Miguel Unson have been long acquaintances. Bursuker was teaching at UrbanGlass, a community space in Brooklyn, New York, where Unson was a student. The two found that their love of glass was a common bond, despite their varied approaches to technique.

Based on technique and form, it is natural to assume Bursuker has been working with glass for a long time. His method combines photography and glass collaged together to create an abstract world, encased in ice. In his pieces "Sculpting Architecture," nonfigurative forms, almost appearing like globs of glass, hide another world. Inside the shapes, the reflection of buildings and windows can be perceived, although they may not be noticed upon first glance; it is a secret the artist has extended to us.

His other approach is more colorful, yet contains the same twist on reality. Solid plates of melded glass are filled with colorful fractured patterns. The patterns, which at first appear random, come together to make a scenic picture. If the Impressionists worked in glass, these pieces would fit nicely into their catalog.

Unson takes a very different approach to the material. Although his work feels somewhat neophytish next to Bursuker's striking pieces, Unson is not to be overlooked in any way. Unson's pieces are primarily disk-shaped objects, black with colorful light seeping through. In his piece "She Won't Look at You (Won't Look at You)," Unson has found a way to weave using glass. The result is beautiful. White strands, almost vein-like, swim through black matter making intricate patterns and shapes.

The two artists complement each other nicely. Their work is wildly different yet holds the same basic foundation, and their passion for the material is ever apparent in this current collection.

"Glass Graphica" is on view at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) August 18 through October 14. Free. Visit crafthouston.org for more details.

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