At the Edge (from the series), set of 5, 2019
Commissioned by Summa Health
Materials: Enamel on copper; 3 are 15” x 15”; 2 are 11”x 11.
Location at Summa Health: Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Tower on the Akron Campus (141 N. Forge St.), fourth floor, outside family lounge overlooking downtown Akron.
At the Edge is the artist’s response to the beauty she finds along the rural roads traveled in Ohio. She says “(t)he edge of the road presents a garden both chaotic yet organized, populated with weeds and flowers, and evokes memories of roads traveled through life.” Natural scientists, social scientists, and certainly gardeners all know that the most interesting things happen along edges between different zones or groups or microclimates.
Gretchen Goss purposely narrows her focus to the forms and colors along the liminal zone between man-made and nature left to its own. The tight focus permits her to abstract natural form, captured via photo and then cropped, gracing us with a new perspective on which familiar shapes (the Queen Anne’s Lace), colors (that cornflower blue!), and groupings (the floating golden forms of dandelion or coltsfoot or hawkweed). We move closer for a detail, and then step back to enjoy it as part of the wider field; the varied sizes of Goss’s constellation of enameled images encourage this stepping into, and then out of, the edges she has created here.
Of her technique, Gretchen Goss says:
Merging the processes of drawing, painting and photography with vitreous enamel on metal drives my work. Fusing glass to metal over the course of multiple firings creates a metaphorical dialogue between the medium and myself. I find satisfaction in experimenting with materials and processes that challenge my ability to control. Enamel provides that challenge, thus motivation … the physics and risk inherent to the process hold my interest. The traditions and stringent guidelines associated with the medium impel me to work outside the rules aiming to make discoveries with the material.
Goss earned the Bachelor of Fine Arts in jewelry/metals and a Master of Fine Arts in enameling from Kent State University, where the tradition of enameling excellence has been associated with the name of Mel Someroski, who founded the program in 1958. She teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she is chair of the Material Culture Environment; she has also been a lecturer, visiting artist, and workshop leader throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Goss has curated exhibitions of enameling, including Metalsmith Magazine’s exhibition in print titled, “Enameling; a current perspective” (2003).
Where you can see more of this artist’s work:
Many of Goss’ works can be found on her website as well as in the collections of University Hospitals and the Cleveland Arts Foundation in Cleveland, at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, and at the University of Michigan. The artist exhibits her work widely in the U.S. and internationally and has had work published in 500 Enameled Objects (2008) and The Art of Enameling (2004), among others.