Commentary helps the artist see her own work afresh; it helps clarify things she does not fully understand in her own work. Much of my work is a collaborative process, and the commentator is one of a long list of welcome contributors to the process. As a glass artist ... I am happiest when I am working away in my studio, oblivious to the outside world. But, after having completed a body of work, there comes a point at which I am eager to unveil it to the world. When that point arrives, when I feel the work is complete, I need feedback, preferably from the heart. In the first ten or fifteen years of making cast pieces there was very little critical response to my work. I found this bewildering. I felt sometimes that everyone was holding back, waiting for a sign from me.
All of the pieces seem static and posed. The vessels which do not deliberately mimic fowl are asymmetrical with feet in threes and in sevens and you would imagine hardly capable of movement except in some penguin-like, circular shuffle. The feet are individual and expressive, often suggesting pride, even vanity. They are extended like a high-heeled foot outstretched by a courtier in a deep bow, a hand about to play a piano, the hand of a matron anticipating a kiss or a manicure, and how some of these nails/claws beg a manicure! Only in rare instances do the feet connote their actual purpose of grasping or violence, though horror and the grotesque always seem to be in tension with whimsy and domesticity.
Two vases, with no extensions or feet and which in one case looks very much like a broken egg, actually contain outstretched talons. One displayed inside a glass cover invites the viewer to peer inside. You are surprised upon discovering an outstretched, even panicky talon extended up at you, suggesting more what the egg keeps out, the predator, than what it keeps in. I found one lidded bowl rather disturbing. A webbed foot crudely stuck on the lid - seemed to refer to the contrasting purposes of the two species - the human one seeing the foot as a handle, practical and ornamental - the animal gesture implied by the foot on the lid, on the other hand, suggesting possession and control, keeping a lid on things so to speak. Overall the crudely broken stem of the ankle reminds one of the mutilation involved, more so than in any of the other pieces....
What I appreciate about her new work is how the pieces have surprised me and challenged my notions of what glass art is. In particular the pieces made me aware of how poultry feet are taken for granted, ignored and treated as waste products. Thorkelsson's new glass works have transformed these homely and overlooked extremities into something mysterious and mythic.
Today, hybrids and mutants the likes of Thorkelsson's 'Chimerae' populate everything from WalMart toy departments to video games, from Internet sites to sci-fi TV. We've become habituated to their often hackneyed, garish or cloyingly cute forms; we barely 'see' them anymore -- no matter what their medium. Thorkelssons works tend to evoke their pop-culture parallels rather than leading us to new and unexpected sensations, perceptions, associations or interpretations .... an interpretative dead-end. Thus the work ... occupies a rather difficult and unsatisfying esthetic and conceptual space ... neither is it evocative, intellectually intriguing or ethically challenging like the best of contemporary art In effect, it leaves the viewer in a kind of limbo.
Thorkelssonís latest body of work...consists of what might be fossils of previously unknown creatures cast in glass. For several years now Thorkelssonís work has been rooted in the realm of what is possible, rather than what is actual. As with many visionary and original artists, her tools or me- thodology might seem unorthodox, but the result is the creation of something beautiful and unique. 'Fragments' essentially hybridizes different sources and abstract approaches in ways that are pro- vocative. Thorkelssonís work isnít didactic however, but rather is more like poetry in sculptural form.
If Tim Burton was a glass artist, he would be Ione Thorkelsson. Ione walked into our office one day and blew our minds with her breathtakingly beautiful and wonderfully morbid work. We were thrilled to design this catalogue for her exhibit: Ossuary, a challenging visual commentary dealing with genocide and mortality.