Hank Adams’ sculpture “Ethel” is not traditionally beautiful. The foggy, blue glass bust with an off-center face has curly steel wires coming out of its scalp and is just recognizable as a female face.
But “Ethel” is thought-provoking — especially when compared to the lithe marble Greco-Roman sculptures flanking it in the Speed Art Museum gallery.
And according to Scott Erbes, the museum’s curator of art and decorative design, that’s exactly Adams’ point in making sculptures like this.
“Hank has explored the human figure for many years now,” Erbes said. “And for me, personally, I have always been drawn to his work because it is not the human figure as a representation, but really more as a metaphor.”
Adams will give a demonstration at the University of Louisville’s Cressman Center for Visual Arts Monday night, during which he will detail how he makes glass pieces in his signature style.
As Erbes said, Adams considers his work to be a metaphor for a lot of things: the fragile human condition, standards of beauty and how great art can come out of mistakes.
In a 2016 video by the American Craft Council, Adams said: “I often say I make art to seek the accident. And I often cite example after example of my practice of how the accident I shunned or that I was the only interesting thing that came of [that artwork].”
The demonstration, which begins Monday at 7 p.m., was made possible in partnership with the Speed Museum’s Adele & Leonard Leight Lecture series.