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, Environment Vessel #7: 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, 2021, Copper, silver, and enamel. Courtesy of the artist.

Exhibit Details

April 8, 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

View the Exhibition Photo Album

Related Programs

Artist Talk with Tanya Crane:
Friday, April 14, 5:00 PM

This program is co-sponsored with Missouri State University Art + Design Department. Tanya Crane will speak and then give an informal gallery tour of her works currently on view in Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels. Free and open to the public.

Slow Viewing with Shauna LeAnn Smith:
Wednesday, May 24, 6:00 PM, Works by Jessica Calderwood

Slow Viewing is a supportive practice for anyone who wants to develop their skills of interpretation, observation, and discussing art. Guests spend an hour carefully observing and speaking about the works on view, resulting in a deeper understanding of how they and others relate to the artwork and to each other. This program is facilitated by artist Shauna LeAnn Smith. This program is free, but space in-gallery is limited so pre-registration is required.

Artist Talk with Sarah Perkins:
Friday, June 2, 6:00 PM

Join featured artist and curation collaborator Sarah Perkins as she gives an in-gallery talk and tour of works currently on view in Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels. Free and open to the public.

Vessel Making Workshop: Basket Weaving:
Saturday, June 10, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM or Saturday, June 24, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Join artist Barbara Vicente for a Basket Weaving Workshop that will explore the vessel form, currently featured in the special exhibition Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels. Barbara is a member of the Missouri Basket Weavers Guild and the Ozark Mountain Basket Weavers. Participants will learn reed weaving techniques and create their own small egg basket. $45 workshop fee includes all materials. Ages 16+ Pre-registration is required.
  1. Exhibit Support

The 2023 Exhibition Season is presented by Friends of the Springfield Art Museum, Inc. 

This exhibition is sponsored, in part, by Simmons Bank Private Wealth.

Simmons Bank Private Wealth logo