Exploring Heritage in New Glass Exhibition

John Erwin Dillard (MFA ’24), Unpolished Pearl in Sky Black, glass and epoxy, 17" x 18" x 12".

Associate Professor and Glass Program Head Jessica Jane Julius believes that art can embody lineage, offering a powerful lens through which “artists can explore the interconnectedness of human existence, the passage of time, and the transmission of cultural and personal narratives.”

Julius has written as much about a new glass exhibition she juried, Lineage, that opens at Philadelphia's Da Vinci Art Alliance this week and presents the works of 15 artists, half of whom are Tyler MFA students, faculty or alumni.

Lineage “offers a means to delve into the rich tapestry of ancestry, heritage, and intergenerational connections, fostering a deeper understanding of our own identities and the forces that shape us. This exhibition is employing artist that use glass to illuminate the intricate threads that connect us to our past, present, and future,” she writes.

The exhibition, on view through September 24, reflects the long history of glass as an industrial tool and communication device. But the artists represented delve into industry on a more personal level, incorporating their memories and ancestral memories into their creations. The work leads to questions such as how can the subject of lineage lead toward the creation of alternative histories and futures? How do you trace your own lineage with what you create? 

Among the featured artists are Tyler alumni and current students Christen Baker (MFA ’23), John Erwin Dillard (MFA ’24), Kaitlin Santoro (MFA ’21), Kathryn Kirk Murphy (BFA ’14), Niloufar Kazemzadeh (MFA ’24), Noah Hagiladi (MFA ’24), and Terena Reppond (BFA ’23). Tyler Adjunct Glass Professor Kayla Cantu’s work is also in the exhibition. Tyler's Glass Program will mark its 50th anniversary this fall. 

Installation view

Julius said the artworks she selected exemplify a diverse array of ties to the concept of lineage. “The artists employ personal narratives of their own lives impacted by family, such as Kaitlin Santoro’s piece, which delves into generational trauma, employing shattered and mended glass as a medium, and Kathryn Murphy’s work as a homage to her grandfather, who in the act of making reenacted his care,” she said.

Other works critique societal norms, such as Priscilla Kar Yee Lo’s piece using nostalgic pop culture symbols to reveals subtle, yet powerful conventions. In contrast, both Christen Baker and Terena Reppond reside in obscurity. Baker transforms object-derived information into works that suggest mapping but are removed from their origin. Reppond’s interactive creation evokes an infinite mindscape of hidden connections.

Installation view

Julius has been dedicated for 20+ years to the arts as an artist, educator, collaborator, and performer. In addition to teaching at Tyler, she is president of the Glass Art Society and co-founder of the artists collective and performance group The Burnt Asphalt Family, which produces collaborative participatory works. They have performed at prestigious venues across the country, including The Corning Museum of Glass, The Chrysler Museum, and Urban Glass.

Her mixed media works have been exhibited widely, including at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Traver Gallery, Heller Gallery, and the Museum of American Glass, NJ. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, Glass Quarterly and New Glass Review. She is the recipient of the York Cultural Alliance grant and has been awarded residencies at The Creative Glass Center of America and the Museum of Glass. She earned her BFA from Tyler and MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. 

The exhibition will be on view in Gallery 2 at Da Vinci Art Alliance, 704 Catharine Street, Philadelphia, with an opening reception on Saturday, September 2 from 5-8 p.m. and a closing artist talk on Sunday, September 24 from 12-2 p.m.