At the Fraser Gallery Bethesda to June 8, 2004
By Jeffry Cudlin
© Washington City Paper
Thursday, June 4, 2004. Page 94.
Along a wall in Bethesda's Fraser Gallery, three canopic jars stand on low pedestals. Each chrysalislike, blue-green vessel reveals a small, blood-red human figure barely visible through the textured glass.
A distressed metal ring encircles the center of each pod, offering a cryptic clue to the creature's fate: "It was then he knew for certain that only drowning men could see him," reads one.
Tate, co-director and founder of the Washington Glass School, has lived with HIV for nearly 20 years and also lost his mother to cancer. "With mortality continually looming on the horizon," he says, "clarity of vision can be possible."
Tate's early work dealt in swirling glass colored in opaque, saturated reds and deep cobalt blues. But his more recent pieces reflect a new; and literal transparency.
What Lies Within envelops a coiled snakeskin in glass; Brood (pictured) offers delicate cicada shells; Gossamer contains a mass of soft white feathers. Each artifact is presented in Tate's signature heart-shaped container, this time fashioned out of unadorned clear glass.
Across the gallery, Tate mines Egyptian iconography in four autobiographical "story panels"; self-portraits on milky glass sheets modeled after carvings of the eccentric ancient Egyptian ruler Akhenaten. Crafting the tablets in glass instead of stone (and substituting Monopoly markers for hieroglyphs in one panel), Tate offers a wry look at the idea of immortality here and throughout the show.
The exhibition is on view from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Tuesday, June 8, at Fraser Gallery, 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. Free. (301) 718-9651. (Jeffry Cudlin)
© Copyright 2004 Washington City Paper