Watching Simone Fezer at work brings to mind her observation “Glass blowing has a lot to do with rhythm. It’s a dance. I enjoy it because of the immediacy and intensity, the roundness and elegance in the movement. You can’t force it. You have to have a strong intention and you have to have clarity.”
“Perhaps,” the Winter, 2004 Resident Fellow of the Center for Creative Glass in America acknowledges, “I call glass-blowing a very female activity because I’m female.” She finds a primordial source of strength in the process, likening the manipulation of molten glass to “rebirth, rejuvenation: the phoenix theme. The furnace produces a deep roaring sound. The glass is like magma at the center of the earth: very strong and very fiery. What happens on the way to making a piece of glass reveals a truth that suddenly starts making sense.”
Fezer’s individual sculptures often suggest botanical or biological sources. At slightly over two feet long Heart (of a Pink Ladyslipper) is a sinuous, nearly symmetrical mottled pink form studded with irregular rounded bumps. It hints at a real anatomical heart or, more likely, a juicy over-ripe fruit with a thick undulating stem. The iridescent viscous-seeming surface could be torn from a living body or something diseased and pustuled but graceful nonetheless. Unidentifiable and surreal; it is, nevertheless, convincingly of nature.
For the German artist, the truth is both empirical and intuitive. “Science is the illusion of rationality. It answers to itself and makes sense like any religion.” Fezer has a wide-ranging interest in mythology. From the Indian triumvirate of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to Lilith and Morgana le Fey, she is drawn to “the oldest questions. I love the poetic descriptions of ancient life; each river, each tree would be a god.” A trio of 2002 works combines huge seven-foot diameter wreaths with centralized linked symmetrical glass elements suspended across each ring. These forms are abstracted representations of the female reproductive system: uterus and fallopian tubes, but the “uterus” can also be read as an egg cradled in a pair of hands. The interior sequencing of cool, hard, reflective, slightly translucent glass objects contrasts dramatically with their heavily textured exterior nests. Aspects of the goddess-white- is wreathed in downy feathers: light, soft, nurturing. Aspects of the goddess-black– is framed in coal: rough, earthy, heat-giving. Aspects of the goddess-red- incorporated 700 roses: fresh, tender, sensual with, perhaps, a hidden thorn. Fezer evokes something atavistic with these contrasts. It is simultaneously bone-hard and protective, heroic and fragile, eternal and evanescent as a blossom.
The egg shape, “a symbol of life,” has many references. Fezer makes it in blown glass to capture light and suspends it in installations in nylon tubing (from stockings). She is primarily an installation artist. Untitled (inbetween) is an interwoven suspension of very large blown glass eggs, capturing light and color and inviting the viewer to move among the forms. Perhaps because she never attended art school, Fezer is comfortable shifting from one material or technique to another and uses both cast and blown glass. “I’m about the piece. I’m about the result. I’m definitely not going to make it hot if I can make it better cold.”
Flesh and Spirit, bound circling is a mold-blown spiral 26 inches long and a foot in diameter. The painted nylon covering sections of the clear glass loops resembles raw flesh. It represents “the striving for transcendence. We have to accept our physical existence, accept our reality because it’s beautiful to be on this planet.” But, although the forms are elegant and the colors almost pretty, the effect is visceral, painful. There’s an ambiguity, a duality which inhabits all of this artist’s work.
She wants “to ask questions with my work—not to give answers. I’m trying to reach people on the level of the heart, not the intellect. Beauty is one of those truths that is a question. In all reli, ion you have a dark and a light—or a heaven and a hell—or whatever you call it. Trying to move toward the light and bring the light, reaching for the divine. We can never really reach the [complete beauty of nature] but we can capture moments of being in nature and feeling connectedness, a glimpse of light: the hush of a butterfly, the silence of a field.”