Disenchanted Alice

Contemporary Alice in the Big Apple’s wonderland
Editor’s note: Almost nine years ago in “Novel Gothic”, we featured stained glass artist Joseph Cavalieri’s distinctive work. Cavalieri’s focus is hand-painted stained glass art using the methods created by medieval artists. Using traditional techniques of stained glass art, Cavalieri updates and illustrates both classic and modern stories to relate to the past, present and future. The past is the vibrant colors and design of historic stained glass. The present are images from current icons like Lisa and Bart Simpson, as well as Cavalieri’s two headed birds that represent his vision of the future where DNA engineering and chemical spills mutate nature. 
 
Cavalieri runs CAVAglass, a stained glass design and production studio based in New York City. He makes one-of-a-kind commissions and art for exhibitions in the United States and abroad. He specializes in contemporary stained glass, often based on fables and books, as well as production of those works using other techniques including hand painting, air brushing, and sand blasting stained glass. He has worked with fabricators Willet Hauser Architectural Glass Inc. in Minnesota, and Derix Art Glass in Germany. His work can be seen in the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design, the Italian American Museum, the Leslie-Lohman Museum, and the Stax Museum. Private and public art commissions include a MTA Arts for Transit public art installation at the Philipse Manor Train Station in Westchester, New York, Our Lady of Sorrow Church on the island of Itaparica, in Brazil.  “Disenchanted Alice in Wonderland” first appeared on the Cavaglass blog. Below is an edited version.]
 
This project was supported by the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts 2018 Summer Artist-in-Residency program. This was my 15th art residency. It is situated at a former  goggles factory now turned art center named GoggleWorks, in Reading, Pennsylvania. 
 
For this 2018 residency, three juried artists are given a work space, apartment to share, and given a generous stipend for materials and supplies. My work space had large tables and full access to kilns and the sandblaster. The staff was amazingly helpful and energetic. 
 
The proposed project for this residency was named “Disenchanted Alice” which was a series of stained glass works illustring the daily activities of a modern-day Alice in Wonderland. It is 2018, and this classic beauty is living a mediocre life in New York City. Our Alice sports blue hair with her head in the clouds drinking a coke-a-cola; Alice stoned with her body unraveling while she is waiting for the subway; Alice in bed with a can of mushrooms, in the form of mushroom soup, among other designs. 
 
The underwhelming subject of this work is done on purpose. The themes aim to bore the viewer, while the composition, technique and colors will hopefully wow them. I ask: Medieval stained glass windows taught the story of the Bible, but does the public still learn these stories when viewing windows in churches, or are we overly exposed to too much competing imagery and don't notice historic windows? My challenge is to update contemporary storytelling while using traditional stained glass techniques. 
 
Every part of these panels is hand painted, and then kiln fired onto the glass.  No silk-screening or decals are used. My challenge for this project was to paint very detailed imagery. Once the various images are peiced together, they are soldered and set in a light box with LED lighting.
 
For more information, please visit www.cavaglass.com.
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