“WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE” OPENS AT BENDER GALLERY
Messages of Hope and Fragility by Australian Glass Artist Emma Varga
ASHEVILLE, NC, June 27 – Bender Gallery is proud to present “Wild and Precious Life”, an extraordinary solo exhibition by Emma Varga, one of Australia’s most prominent glass artists. Works in this collection convey messages of hope and fragility contained in glass sculptures that evoke breathtaking imagery of the vibrant flora around the world and the corals of the Great Barrier Reef. The exhibition runs through August 31 with a preview reception on Thursday June 27 from 5-8 PM and an artist talk on Friday June 28 from 2-4 PM. Both events are open to the public.
“Wild and Precious Life” is a statement on climate change and a plea for social action in regards to global warming. The title is inspired by the poem “The Summer Day” by National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver who passed away earlier this year. Oliver’s poetry focuses on the quiet of occurrences of nature. This poem is a description of animals in nature as well as Oliver herself, spending the day walking through fields. A grasshopper, with its complete attentiveness to the act of eating and just being, is an example to say: be fully attentive and focus on the things that you’re doing in the moment and enjoy them; what else are you going to do with your life? It also serves to remind us as a society to appreciate the beauty of our planet and to take care of it before it is destroyed.
Emma Varga’s work has always been influenced by the environment and she focuses on the flora and landscape of the many places she has lived in or traveled to over the years. She has been to remote places untouched by man, from the high mountains in Europe to the far north of Norway. In recent years, escalating global warming prompted Varga to travel to Antarctica to find inspiration for a new body of work in order to raise awareness and contribute to the global climate conversation.
Varga’s connection with the Australian coastline is possibly her greatest inspiration when creating her art. She loves the beaches where she lives and never ceases to be moved by the spectacular ocean and bush panorama offered by the spacious windows of her studio. The Great Barrier Reef influences and inspires much of Varga’s work, especially the vibrant yet fragile coral gardens immersed in azure blue waters which are now threatened by coral bleaching and human impact. Many of Varga’s works reflect lost flora landscapes which she recreates in their colorful glory as they are preserved in her memories.
Varga’s sculptures consist of three dimensional images enveloped in layers of clear glass using a complex and laborious process that she has developed over the past twenty years. For each sculpture, Varga must cut hundreds, even thousands, of glass elements from clear and transparent colored glass. She combines these elements with glass frit and stringers and fuses them together in stages; a process that takes two weeks to fire and cool. The final process of grinding and polishing takes another week before the sculpture is finally finished.
Emma Varga was born in Ada, in the former Yugoslavia. She graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Belgrade in 1975 with a major in glass design and ceramics. Following her graduation, Varga joined the emerging studio glass movement in Europe and participated in many landmark international glass exhibitions. While a freelance artist, Varga broadened her skills collaborating with a glass factory in Yugoslavia, creating sculptural glass and glass design. In 1995, she left Yugoslavia due to political unrest and immigrated to Sydney, Australia. By that time, Varga had become a highly skilled and accomplished artist.
Varga continues to push the limits of glass creating distinctive biomorphic sculptures with a unique and recognizable style. She participates in important international museum and gallery exhibitions and teaches around the world.
Bender Gallery is a contemporary fine art and sculpture gallery in Asheville, NC representing both established and emerging artists. The gallery specializes in glass sculpture created by respected artists from around the world. The gallery’s secondary focus is an expanding roster of figurative and abstract painters.