I’ve always had an affinity for artists who use nature as the subject for their work. After all, the relationship between man and nature is a constant balancing act just as nature invariably teeters between the physical and mystical. If an artist can achieve an accord between these two properties as well as Kathleen Elliot, then they are worthy of acclaim. On May 3, Elliot’s nationwide tour of Imaginary Botanicals landed in Manhattan, taking residency at the Tenri Cultural Institute. Using flamework glass to create sculptures, Elliot manufactures pieces that harmoniously merge the delicate, elegant and resolute beauty of nature.
With Imaginary Botanicals, Elliot infuses human elements into plants turning them into abstract narratives about the symbiotic relationship between man and the environment. Other more literal interpretations of plant life are equally striking. In addition to her exploration of plants and man, Elliot showcases another aspect concerning the continuity of humans and nature with “Questionable Foods”, two sculptures that combine Elliot’s intricate glasswork with stitched logos of food brands fashioned to look like fruit growing from branches. These pieces make the viewer ponder how our choice of food, and food brands in particular, affects Mother Nature. Powerful, yet refined Elliot’s statement about the way in which corporations sometimes shirk their responsibility to the planet comes across as subtle as a tap on the shoulder.
The pieces that resonated with me the most were “Offerings”, glasswork pieces displayed in three palms made of wood and plaster. The appearance of the open palms extending through the walls to humbly hold the glass pieces raised them to a spiritual plane and really highlighted the 3D aspect of the entire exhibit.
Seemingly fragile and muted, the exquisite glassworks of Imaginary Botanicals explode with a soulful presence that fills the Tenri Cultural Institute and vibrates with the same dynamism as a drive through Central Park in the spring. Imaginary Botanicals will be in full bloom at Tenri Cultural Institute until May 25 and definitely shouldn’t be missed.
To learn more about Kathleen Elliot, check out this video.
Photos: F.A.M.E NYC Editor
Video courtesy of Kathleen Elliot