Corcoran and Tzu-Lan Mann's Dynamic yet Hesitant Coming Together

By Dandee Pattee

Exhibition Still of xxxx.  Photo by Cassi Hayden.  Courtesy Montpelier Arts Center.

Exhibition Still of Joseph Corcoran and Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann’s collaboration (partial view of exhibition). Photo by Cassi Hayden. Courtesy Montpelier Arts Center.

E D I T O R ‘ S   N O T E :  Corcoran and Tzu-Lan Mann’s collaboration was first presented at the Montpelier Arts Center May 1 through June 1, 2014.  (Read details here).  The Washington Project for the Arts will exhibit an annotated version of the collaboration as part of the Lobby Project series through July 18, 2014. (Read details here.)

A recent collaboration at the Montpelier Art Center between painter Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and glass blower Joseph Corcoran was a dynamic yet hesitant coming together of craft and fine art. Many of the pieces consisted of Mann’s ambitiously scaled works that climbed several feet up the wall and in some cases spreading across the floor. Corcoran’s glass elements were often placed directly on top of the painted canvas either hung on the wall or directly on the floor, not exactly becoming a part of the painting or separate enough to create a sense of balanced difference.

Carriers II.  Photo courtesy of the artists.

Strata II. Photo courtesy of the artists.

There were three specific approaches to collaboration taken by the artists. The dominant approach was Mann’s large wall-hanging canvases, providing the structure and backdrop, and Corcoran’s blown-glass pieces mounted on top of the canvases.   In the case of Strata II, the wall canvas was painted vigorously in tones of blue, purple and red, the edges splattered and undefined and the painting spilled onto the floor from the wall. The floor portions were cutouts that were more contained and quieter than the canvas. Corcoran’s glass elements are bulbous and delicious in maroon and blue tones, but the colors between Mann’s pigments and Corcoran’s glass coloring minerals are incongruent making the glass seem “applied”. The collaboration was incongruent in texture as well; Corcoran’s glass elements were strikingly shiny against Mann’s matte canvas. On select areas of the floor canvas, Mann created a soft flowing surface through her use of spilled and dried ink, creating overlapping and curvature that mimics Corcoran’s bubbles unifying the artist’s pieces. Another of the three approaches to the collaboration, Carriers, was hung alongside Strata II.

Carriers. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Carriers. Photo courtesy of the artists.

The combination of the artists’ voices is carefully balanced in Carriers. Carriers is a piece with great potential however it accentuated the inevitable discomfort between combining three dimensional objects and two dimensional elements. Corcoran’s clear glass pieces were vertically stretched, yawning oh-shaped forms that ranged from eight inches to fourteen inches. The glass is hung away from the walls by black hooks and Mann’s cut-out printed black and white ribbon was woven between Corcoran’s clear glass objects. The materials were out of sync, the ribbon was physically stiff and uncomfortable although the black and white imagery painted on it was soft and flowing. Having been simply woven through the interior of the oh-shape, it did not move with the fluidity of the glass stunting the glass’ sexy curvature.

Cocoon.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Cocoon. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The final approach to the collaboration was five acrylic painted bulbs titled Cocoon. Painted directly on the surface of Cocoran’s glass forms, Mann’s signature ribbon flows across the landscape of the glass in black-and-white or, sometimes, pink acrylic. Corcoran uses a combination of clear and black glass and Mann covers the surface from the inside to the outside creating a gorgeous matte/shiny contrast.

The strength of the ideas leaves the imagination open to the potential resolution that awaits another iteration of collaboration between these artists.

Corcoran and Mann’s collaboration is bold, edgy and worth seeing. The strength of the ideas leaves the imagination open to the potential resolution that awaits another iteration of collaboration between these artists.


Dandee Pattee
Authored by: Dandee Pattee

Dandee Pattee grew up in the foothills of the Wind River Range in Lander, Wyoming. She received a BA in art from Southern Utah University, an MFA in ceramics from the University of Florida, and an MA in Critical Studies from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Pattee has been published in Ceramics Art and Perception, Ceramics Technical, and Ceramics Ireland. Pattee is currently an Artist in Residence at Red Dirt Studio in Mt. Rainier, MD and teaches at George Washington University, Gallaudet University and Montgomery College; she also teaches community classes at Baltimore Clayworks.