Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels

Three enamel vessels of various shapes and finishes by three featured artists.

Image credits (left to right): 1. Harlan Butt, Environmental Vessel: Property, 2022, Copper, enamel, brass, and string. Courtesy of the artist. 2. Yi Chen, Breeding Record 2022, #1, 2022, Raised and welded copper, fabricated, and torch-fired enamel. Courtesy of the artist. 3. Sarah Perkins, Merge, 2022, Enamel, Courtesy of the artist.

Exhibit Details

April 7, 2023 - July 30, 2023
Eldredge, Spratlen, and Armstrong Galleries

This group exhibition focuses on the enamel process through an examination of the vessel form. Enameling is a technique where powdered glass is fused to a surface through firing. Enameling can be done on metal, glass, ceramics, stone, or any material that will withstand the intense firing temperatures. The powdered glass melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating. Enameling has been in use for centuries, traditionally applied to jewelry and decorative arts. The vessel is one of the most basic of utilitarian forms, existing for centuries across all cultures. Enamel vessels represent some of the earliest decorative applications merging craft, fine art, and utilitarian purposes into one. 

This exhibition features a core body of work by local Springfield artist Sarah Perkins - considered among the leading figures in the contemporary enameling field - as well as work by Beate Gegenwart, Tanya Crane, Harlan Butt, Helen Carnac, Jessica Calderwood, Kat Cole, Yi Chen, Barbara Minor, and the late June Schwarcz which highlights the wide variety of approaches and techniques utilized by contemporary enamel artists. This is the first Springfield Art Museum exhibition focused entirely on enamelware. 

Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels is organized by Curator of Art Sarah Buhr, in collaboration with Sarah Perkins. The exhibition features significant loans from public and private collections including the Metal Museum, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, and the Enamel Arts Foundation.

Exhibit Resources


Related Programs


  1. Exhibit Support

Presenting sponsorship of the 2023 exhibition season is generously provided by the Friends of the Springfield Art Museum, Inc.