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Posted on: March 27, 2023

Springfield Art Museum Opens First Exhibition Focused Entirely on Enamelware

Holding Space identity image with a bowl with a turquoise interior and the names of featured artists


Springfield, MO. (March 27, 2023) – The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to present Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels, opening Saturday, April 8. This is the Museum’s first exhibition focused solely on enamelware. This group exhibition, featuring ten local, national, and international artists, 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. 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. 

Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels features a core body of work by local Springfield, MO artist Sarah Perkins - considered among the leading figures in the contemporary enameling field - as well as work by Beate Gegenwart (United Kingdom), Tanya Crane (Rhode Island), Harlan Butt (Texas), Helen Carnac (United Kingdom), Jessica Calderwood (Indiana), Kat Cole (Georgia), Yi Chen (Taiwan), Barbara Minor (Louisiana), and the late June Schwarcz (California) which highlights the wide variety of approaches and techniques utilized by contemporary enamel artists. 

The differences and similarities between these artists have produced a vibrant and visually rich exhibit. But also, for enamellists, it is a masterful display of technique and form. Curator of Art Sarah Buhr notes, “The title, Holding Space, is purposefully evocative as it is meant to represent the primary themes of the exhibition: the Museum is holding space in our galleries for these artists and our guests, and each vessel is capable of holding space within it.”

While many of the vessels are sculptural and decorative, nearly every single one is also functional. Many of these functions are communal and deeply rooted to the needs of the human body - the cup that we drink from, the bowl that holds food, the lidded vessel to carry or protect smaller objects - and so each of the vessels is human-scaled and human-centric. This exhibit is organized by 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.

Enjoy Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels April 8 – July 30, 2023 in the Eldredge, Spratlen, and Armstrong Galleries. A full color catalog, a complete record of the exhibition, will be available for purchase in the Museum’s Lobby or by calling (417) 837-5700. This exhibition includes Spanish language translations for all exhibition text. 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. The Springfield Art Museum is located at 1111 East Brookside Drive. Admission is always free. Donations are gratefully accepted.

Free Public Programs:

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

Slow Viewing with Shauna LeAnn Smith:
Wednesday, May 24, 6:00 PM


The Springfield Art Museum is Springfield, Missouri’s oldest cultural institution, founded in 1928. A department of the City of Springfield, the Museum invites you to connect with the world, your community, and yourself through active engagement with art objects. For more information, please visit or contact Joshua Best, Museum Affairs Officer at (417) 874-2859 or

Holding Space: Contemporary Enamel Vessels
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