DETAIL: Toots ZYNSKY 'Pennellata' 2004, 'Filet de Verre' fused and thermoformed colour glass threads
Harlan BUTT | Earth beneath our feet: Horizon #1

BUTT, Harlan
USA 1950
Earth beneath our feet: Horizon #1 2003
silver, enamel, copper, paint
hammered and raisded, forged, cast, electroformed, stone-ground and polished cloisonné enamel
28.0 (h) x 18.0 (w) x 18.0 (d) cm
NGA 2003.481.A-C

Harlan Butt has long used the form of the enamelled vessel for his work. In doing so he draws directly from his experiences in Japan, where he studied traditional metalworking and enamelling and their relationships to the cultural traditions of Zen Buddhism and the tea ceremony. Earth beneath our feet: horizon #1 references the traditions of the Japanese koro incense burner, in which forms of the natural world and the simple objects of everyday life are elevated to forms of contemplation. This work is inspired by the flora, fauna and wild terrain of Colorado, where Butt spends part of each year. Through it he describes a landscape in which the viewer is an active participant, rather than a passive spectator. He expands the metaphor of the garden to explore the beauty and wildness of the natural world, encouraging intimacy and involvement. Also evoked in this work are the traditions of Japanese ikebana, with its concept of visible imperfection in remembrance of the harmony of living things. The snake on the vessel’s lid is unobtrusive, seeming to sense our presence as much as we recoil from its appearance.

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