Although Hart’s pieces at first appear to be abstract paintings created using liquid glass, there is logic behind the colors and gestures in the work. Hart states “There are pieces within the exhibition that are drawn from my studies into the worldwide parrot family of 350+ species and the environments in which they exist. There are also works that contain descriptive elements relating to our travels in remote tribal areas of Arnhem Land in Northern Australia.” There can be no doubt when viewing the show as a whole that Hart’s influences are purely Australian. He is deeply grounded in his home land, its sheer beauty, diversity, and the fragile quality of an environment being infringed upon by an ever increasing population. When speaking to him about the encroachment on pristine lands by development, his voice rises and his body tenses as he speaks in terms of protection and conservation of these lands and the species that live within. He has been dedicated to this as his artistic voice for many years and has been a witness to change and loss in the Australian landscape.
Hart’s research and adventures are additionally fed by “an appreciation of primitive art forms such as petroglyphs, cave paintings, corroborees, and artIfacts of power where the intension of the artists, makers and participants is to effect the increase of the number of species”. Hart further says, “What may appear at first to be simply an illustration in glass of the color sequence in the plumage of a bird species is in fact an artifact of esoteric intent – an action against extinction. The viewers of my art, whether they know it or not, are participating in my nature conservation efforts.” “Extinct Paradise Parrot on the Darling Downs” and “Extinct Seychelles Parakeet on Silhouette Island” are testimonies to the loss of species and make reference to their environment. The pieces regale in the bright plumage of these beautiful creatures and are physical manifestations of their loss. It is hard to justify losing even a small fraction of this exotic beauty.
The colors that Hart presents appear to be living, breathing substances. “Duchess of Kieta,” honoring a Parrot of extraordinary plumage, breaks into swirls of color that dance around the flat vase. The juxtaposition of colors allows them to pulsate in harmony. Hart’s approach is to open your eyes and pull you into a sea of color caught in motion.
Hart uses a lot of color and it is at least two layers deep. Assistants bring Hart the liquid color at his request. He moves it around with instruments that act as paint brushes but are suitable for the heat. The work becomes heavy, 30 + pounds, which is a great deal of weight to hold on the end of a pipe. Some pieces take up to 3 hours of intense labor in front of a very hot glory hole (the inside of the kiln). The process is one of demanding labor, tolerating no errors, just outside a furnace that is 2000 degrees with door openings and closings, and dependence on a team.
Working in glass has certain inherent problems. Not all colors live well together once placed in a kiln and raised to 2000 degrees. Compatibility can hinder the number of options an artist has. The physical effort and mental concentration in the making of the larger works is intense. The actual making of this body of work has to be a team effort. The team needs to understand what it is Hart is doing, and then work in harmony to make it happen. The “happen” has to be a dance with each member having a pre assigned role. To work with the right team and have the correct facility to make the larger pieces, Hart drove a 1000 miles across Australia to Canberra Glassworks. He needed a deep glory hole with burners in a particular position. The annealing cycle of the large pieces is also somewhat unusual due to the range of colors and tension set up between them. It takes at least two days to complete.
Two of the very large pieces that push the limits pay homage to the Australian landscape. “Green Keet near Wanganui Gorge” and “Stone Country – Jim Jim Falls” celebrate the lush and sometimes raw nature of the outback. Hart lusts for adventures that bring him in close contact with the many facets of nature. What he experiences becomes the topic for major pieces of art such as these two very large pieces. The scale of the pieces provides a broad canvas on which to work.
One of the glassblowing studios is nearby where Hart lives, and is suitable for small to medium scaled works. The annealing of these pieces is also somewhat unusual due to the range of colors in each piece and the tensions that are set up between them. Each piece large or small is sand blasted and etched to a satin finish. This task is performed in an old tumbledown farm shed near where Hart lives.
As with many accomplished artists, Hart is able to flow back and forth between various materials, although none is as demanding as glass. He is also a respected painter and wood carver. Many of his ideas for the glass pieces originate in paintings that are then translated to the complex medium of glass. Glass by its nature fits Hart’s interest in sending a subtle message while creating a majestic piece of beauty. The ability of glass to be transparent, translucent, and opaque is pushed in these pieces. The scale of some pushes the limits of glass and man’s ability to work with it. The breakage from size or compatibility can be heartbreaking, but Noel Hart has adapted himself to this danger and continues making magnificent pieces for us to enjoy on many levels.
We are very delighted to again to be able to present this exceptional body of work that gives us beauty and addresses the issues that New Mexicans and many other Americans also struggle with. What balance can man and nature have that secures the survival of each?