Susan Taylor Glasgow’s work embraces feminine ideals of sensuality in a seductive but unforgiving material, offering conflicting messages of comfort and expectation. Some of her sculpture pays tribute to the era of June Cleaver and Betty Crocker via images appropriated from the world of ‘50s and ‘60s television and advertising. The bustier forms of Chandelier Dresses and the sensuous detailed perfection of lingerie sets present fantasies, reminding us of the way things never were. Sewing, cooking and arranging glass, Glasgow attempts to reconcile the conflict over work and home, feminist ideals and the Madonna complex, duty and fulfillment.
She says: “In a way, my work is the result of homemaking skills gone awry. I have always embraced domesticity in spirit, but not in action. My life as an artist puts housekeeping last while instead I cook and sew glass. My internal domestic struggle has led me to examine the concept of domestic expectations and traditional roles of men and women. I am intrigued by 1950s imagery and the false perception of simpler times.”
Born in Superior, Wisconsin, Taylor Glasgow grew up just across the tip of Lake Superior, in Duluth, Minnesota. She attended the University of Iowa, graduating in 1983 with a BFA in Design. After working in graphic design for a short period, the artist returned to the sewing skills passed on to her by her mother, opening a wildly successful dressmaking shop, On Pins & Needles, which she owned and ran from 1984 to1997 in Iowa City, Iowa, and Columbia, Missouri. In 1997, the artist sold the dressmaking shop to pursue her interest in art, focusing on glass.
Utilizing her skills as a seamstress, Glasgow developed a unique approach to glass, stitching glass components together. Each sculpture starts out as a flat sheet of glass. To establish the three-dimensional shape and holes, sections of glass are kiln-fired several times. To create the imagery, text and figures are sandblasted into the glass and pigment is rubbed into the sandblasted area to create the black and gray photo. Then the glass is fired again to 1250 degrees to melt the pigment into the glass. Once cooled, the sections are coldworked, given a final sandblasting and then assembled. Redefining “woman’s work” in non-traditional mediums, the artist creates complex forms and imagery while exploring the dichotomy of women and societal expectations.
Glasgow received Pilchuck Glass School’s emerging artist grant in 2002, a WheatonArts fellowship in 2003, and was a resident artist at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in 2008. Her work can be found in the collections of the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR; the Alexander Tutsek Foundation, Münich, Germany; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, PA; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; and the Museum of American Glass, Millville, NJ.
Glasgow says: “I think viewers respond to my work on many levels – first to its initial form and visual appeal, and there’s a secondary impact once the viewer gets a closer look. An example might be the corset series. The shape of the corset is appealing to both men and women for different reasons. Once the work is examined closer, a deeper understanding of the piece is revealed. Women respond to my work in the way the message is intended — exploring the dichotomy of women in the household and domestic expectations — while men respond to the work’s sensual qualities. I think for the most part it is because not much has changed for women in the household. Most women are the main caregivers and housekeepers, while still trying to uphold the expected requirement of being glamorous and sexy.”
Working from her new studio in Columbia, Missouri, Glasgow currently has work on view in a group show at Blue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe, and will participate in Habatat Galleries’ 50th Anniversary Exhibition, opening September 17, 2021, while working towards securing a solo museum show in the future.