Hank Murta Adams
My father was in architecture school the decade everyone was reading “The Fountainhead”. His practice was diverse, intense, and while nearly unprofitable, very “educational” to the entire family. My mother was an artist who contracted MS after I was born and while a total immobile quadriplegic, raised a family and was so appreciated every day that her enthusiasm could not but rub off on everyone else. These circumstances and the very special wooded valley I grew up in were fundamental influences on my work and career.
In college, I studied architecture and painting but by the final semester, I’d been enveloped by the burgeoning glass scene. Body movement, dimensionality, and the excitement of learning a very challenging material within what amounted to a small research team changed my entire path forward.
The glass movement was new enough that in grad school I had to pretty much be self-taught in what I eventually preferred as a methodology in the process of cast glass.
Casting glass and all the mold making it involves became the perfect juncture between the spontaneous teamwork of the blown “hot shop” and the solitude of the painting studio that I’d known, loved, and practiced for all the years prior.
The cast work has evolved over the years but has a variety of themes that recur. Often there are copper staples used and these are both functional and symbolic. They physically tie things together as well as obviously act as psychological tethers.
Technology as an oppositional to the environment rather than a proactive compatible effort is a constant theme. Human relations and hierarchical systems are often a subtext if not overt. A question of the failure of our humility over our creative hubris is ever-present.
As a child, I had the great fortune of contrasting exposures to race, wealth, and class, as well as rural, urban, and suburban lives. All the sculpture is a product of the changes witnessed.
I distinctly recall the TV debate between William F Buckley and Gore Vidal and the wider and heated family “dialogue” it caused. The early ’60s were infused with a new environmental awareness that Rachel Carson wrote of. The civil rights movement was raw and all the various and important war protests and actions of the times were deeply embedded in my upbringing.
The less-known but very important lead-up to the Church Committee has direct ties to the very town I grew up in called Media, Pennsylvania. And I can summarize daily TV viewing during my teens after school as including the horrors of the Vietnam War and the initial uses of controlled demolition as practiced on the imploding skyline of the utopian Atlantic City. And, just before I entered college the draft was signed out on my 18th birthday by Gerald Ford.
The “Whole Earth Catalog” was our “paper internet” entering the 70s and as a teenager, I read with thirst and intrigue what Jimmy Carter had commissioned about a new type of resource assessment called the “Global 2000 Report” which was decades ahead in awareness. I projected the very contents of that report onto the examples known to me first-person and began that which we all form our values upon, personal truths.
The majority of these works are from the years just prior to the pandemic. A few are older but all can be put into four ongoing categories:
“Floor Cast Events”
emanated out of a pedagogical practice with students over years of teaching. They were designed to help students understand the nature of glass as a medium while also asking them to question the rule-sets that they were already being conditioned by. These pieces were mostly made on the floors of the respective and various educational facilities where I was working at the time. They are a type of dimensional game with the glass being delivered within a certain restraint of time and temperature, then immediately reduced in size on the spot so they can be cooled in a much a smaller oven space before exploding. Once safely cooled and removed from the oven they are unfolded to once again retain their original dimensional size while still holding the memory map of the prior experience.
are reclaimed steel cans that have been repurposed and reoccupied with blown glass. This series also started as a pedagogical tool helping students to understand glass-blowing molds. They have evolved into an ongoing community practice with almost every glass community he engages.
are a type of “hot cast” work I’ve been known for. They utilize translucent glass of various tints, intensified and imbued with an atmosphere through their actual thickness and method of casting. The glass is activated by situational lighting as well as the movement of the viewer's eye as they interact with the work.
I’ve likened these works similarly to what puppeteers refer to as “object theater”. Figurations that are representative projections with possible meanings that are presented as individual character studies. And much like a writer, they’re intertwined with the experienced, the observed, and the imagined and not necessarily biographical but speak to our larger collective.
“Black & White”
is visually oppositional but really about the gray infinitum we live. The “black” here is made with a magnesium additive which is actually purple and the “white”, if looked at closely is a bit of everything. This technicality as well as the fact that they are all done in a very different technique called “fuse casting” is irrelevant, except that it all aligns with the idea of dualism and polarity that the work offers.