Myth, Object, And The Animal: Glass Installations, by William Morris
As I was helpfully and surprisingly reminded, the William Morris my library system prefers is not the founder of the Arts & Crafts movement, but rather a contemporary glassblower I had never heard of before. Admittedly, glass sculpture is not my favored artistic medium as someone who appreciates the work of others. As a clumsy person who has plenty of utilitarian purposes for glass, I have tended to view glass sculpture as something that is too fragile for the sort of existence I live and something that requires room that I would rather fill with books. Be that as it may, it has been at least somewhat interesting as a person interested in art to examine the art of this contemporary Pacific Northwest sculptor. My thoughts on the art involved are somewhat mixed. On the one hand, Morris shows an immense degree of skill and creativity in making delicate glass look like bone and wood, clay and bird. Yet while much of his work is beautiful, some of it is extremely creepy and it is hard to trust the motives and agenda behind the art. As someone who does not trust the artist always, this is a very serious concern.
This book is a fairly short one at a bit more than 50 pages, and it is a mix of writing about the art of William Morris and (more to my taste) gorgeous photographs of that art. Published in 1999, this short book begins with the titular essay “Myth, Object, and the Animal” by James Yood, which examines the works of William Morris and attempts to put them into a particular context that shows the creativity as well as the traditional aspects of his studio’s work. After that there is a look at a trophy panel, a horse panel, and an artifact panel that give the reader a view of a great many pieces of art that William Morris had created up to this time. There are some photos of Morris and others working in his studio, along with some blurbs for three exhibitions that Morris’ sculptures had in 1999 at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Yellowstone Art Museum, and Chrysler Museum of Art. After this there are some photos that look at some of the larger works of Morris, including Cache, a Bullseye Panel, and a Crow and Raven Installation. The book then closes with a biography of the glassblower and a list of illustrations.
Who was this book meant to be read by? It has no ISBN number that I was able to find and the book is immensely obscure. If it was ever in print it has long been out of print. And yet, for some reason, my local library system has managed now for twenty years to keep this book on its shelves despite the fact that it is likely somewhat obsolete as a picture of the works of the sculptor himself. This is puzzling to me. What is notable about this artist, an apparently local artist who has never come to my attention, that the library would wish to preserve the working memory not only of his creative and interesting work but also long ago exhibitions that may not even be remembered by the people who went to them. Still, the pieces are interesting, and they evoke both the beauty of creation as well as the haunting memory of ancient civilizations. In that sense the artist has succeeded in creating worthwhile art that deserves to be remembered, even if he is an artist who up to this time never reached my own consciousness.