Having made work primarily with glass for nearly two decades, I am deeply committed to an intimate relationship with material. Through collaboration with it, I have developed an acute sensitivity to material intelligence—temperaments, strengths, and limitations.

This affinity branches out toward other substances paradoxical in nature: transformational amorphous materials that shift between various states—pliable and brittle, present and absent, enduring and ephemeral. These qualities find their parallel within human notions of memory and body—ever evolving, often contradictory, and inevitably transient.

This series of work shifts focus to that which has been on the periphery of my glass-centric practice; I give credence to the power of the developmental materials that have previously enabled my making, and which have been absent from final forms.

Recentering wax, molded plaster, and drawing I construct temporal moments. Miniature, vulnerable, and exposed, hand-sculpted wax American Windsor chairs question expectations of permanence and concede to change. Recorded shadows capture their delicate presence, preserving the spatial memory of a thing that will eventually succumb.



Rebecca Arday’s installation for her MFA Thesis project constellates several threads from nearly two decades of making with glass. Small-scale, functional, and highly detailed objects describe her practice, but recently Arday has shifted her focus to glass-adjacent materials—graphite, wax, and plaster. Applying glass-based thinking to the languages of drawing, model- and mold-making, her forms explore the liminal and the paradoxical, and question notions of permanence.

A series of miniature, 1:12 scale, hand-sculpted waxes modeled after iconic American Windsor chairs are shown in various states, some already deformed as a result of wax’s vulnerability. Arday’s drawings offer more permanent records of the evanescent chairs, functioning as 2-dimensional shadow maps that unfold 3-dimensional forms. By capturing the shadows of the chairs on a flat surface, the drawings archive the objects’ original statures. While the two forms—the wax chairs and the shadow-drawings of them—convey complementary understandings, their material differences allude to their inevitable separation. When the waxes are lost, only the drawings will attest to the volume they held. The material conditions of Arday’s project thus engage with the amorphous nature of the wax and hint at its eventual undoing.

Arday investigates analogous issues of permanence through cast plaster forms, which she calls “Constructs.” Trimmed with early American moulding profiles pulled from a contemporary manufacturer’s catalog of modernized historical trims made for mass production, they remain miniature in size. Suggesting the interior of a scaled-down building model or the exterior of an antique display case, the Constructs employ a quasi-historical formal language. Through them we are invited to consider the process by which we delineate what is remembered, and what we let go.

—Anna Talarico