Reinterprets Historical Instruments

Posted January 4, 2012 in Press Releases

Spinning glass vessels scale the walls and fill the small gallery with ethereal music in Transference, a multimedia installation at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) in the coming winter and spring. On view February 4 – May 13, 2012, this collaborative exhibition by glass artist Andy Paiko and experimental sound artist Ethan Rose explores the aural potential of glass vessels.Transference is based on the artists’ mutual interest in recovering and repurposing forgotten objects and technologies. In past works, Paiko, a glassblower, has recontextualized bell jars, reliquaries and absinthe fountains, filling them with contemporary and personal meaning. Similarly, Rose’s musical compositions have combined modern electronics with obsolete instruments such as music boxes, pipe organs and player pianos.

In this piece, the duo derives its inspiration from the history of glass musical instruments, particularly the glass armonica and glass harp. The 18th-century takes on the “singing wine glass” consisted of a series of glass bowls, goblets or tubes of different sizes, which performers played by rubbing a moistened finger along the lip of the vessels to elicit a range of musical tones. In Transference, Paiko and Rose have removed the performer and mechanized the process, quite literally transferring the glass armonica’s historical format to fit a contemporary context.

The result is an encompassing environment that is both contemplative and active. Paiko and Rose have mounted scores of hand-blown glass vessels along the gallery walls and atop pedestals and wired them to rotate in an indeterminate sequence. As such, they spin seemingly of their own accord, traced on the exterior by glass arms with fabric tips that “play” the surface of the vessels, much as a record needle activates the surface of a vinyl 45. Absent a human performer, these glass objects become the central actors in determining the musical composition. HCCC Curatorial Fellow, Susie Silbert, commented, “By orchestrating the installation in this way, Paiko and Rose highlight the materiality of glass. The particular characteristics of each vessel—its thickness and shape, the chemical composition of the glass—dictate the note each will play. In recontextualizing the glass armonica in this way, the song of Transference is as much about the history of this nearly forgotten instrument as it is about the possibilities of glass.”

Andy Paiko is known for ambitious, technical works that explore the metaphorical and symbolic tension of form versus function. His work has been featured in such national and international print publications as FRAME, Wired UK, American Craft, Glass Art Quarterly, the Corning Museum’s New Glass Review, and numerous online blogs. He was selected as one of 20 emerging Searchlight Artists for 2008 by the American Craft Council, and his work will appear in the Renwick Gallery of Decorative Art at the Smithsonian in 2011 for the exhibition, 40 Under 40: Craft Futures. Paiko holds a BS in Studio Art from California Polytechnic State University and currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

Ethan Rose is a sound artist and composer whose works encompass a variety of forms including performance, installation, and recorded composition. Through methods of reduction and repositioning, he utilizes methods of interactive composition to explore qualities of materiality, transformation, and perception. Rose has exhibited and performed domestically and internationally at places such as Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival, Museum of Contemporary Craft, New Genre Festival, Museum of Craft and Design, East/West Project, and the SXSW Music Festival, as well as many other venues and gallery spaces throughout the world.

Transference was first commissioned and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.

At HCCC, Transference was partially funded by a 2012 Celebration Grant from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass (AACG). The exhibition is a part of the 50th Anniversary of Studio Glass, a nationwide series of exhibitions promoted in part by AACG. The anniversary celebrates the establishment of glass as an artists’ medium in the United States in 1962. For more information, visit

Exhibition Dates
February 4 – May 13, 2012
Opening Events on Friday, February 3
5:00 PM: Artist Talks by Andy Taiko and Ethan Rose
5:30 – 8:00 PM: Reception
In conjunction with the openings of Bridge 11: Lia Cook and Alyssa Salomon—The Handmade Print. Featuring open studios by the current artists-in-residence.

Mary Headrick (
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
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