Meet the Artist: Debora Moore from Forces of Nature Renwick Invitational 2020

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  • DEBORA MOORE: My name is Debora Moore. I'm a glass sculptor from Seattle, Washington, and I'm a part of the show “Forces of Nature.” I am so excited to be part of the “Renwick 2020 Invitational,” the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

    The name of the show is “Arboria” and in Latin that means “tree forms,” and so these are tree forms that are made of glass, and on the inside there's a metal armature that supports it. So I'm more of a botanical sculptor. I think of myself as a sculptress who uses glass as my medium. I found glass to be suitable for what I was trying to say with my work. I've tried many other ways of expression—even with papier-mâché, ceramics, carving with wood, different things—but nothing could actually say or be my voice for my work as glass.

    There are four trees. There's a wisteria, a cherry tree, a winter plum, and a magnolia tree. I use glass as my medium because of the fact that I love the way it reflects and transmits light, and I also like the fluidity of the glass when it's hot and molten. You can freeze and stop at any moment.

    It's an incredible honor for me to be able to participate in this exhibit. I can't really express how I feel without maybe getting teared up a little bit. It was exciting to be invited, but it was also scary because I really had to go and install the work, which means I had to fly, and I've been kind of afraid to go anywhere with COVID and everything, but I was so determined. I really wanted to be a part of this exhibition, and I'm so excited and grateful.

    Every time I start a project, it starts up here, and I go through all the steps and the details in my head and I kind of make it. We have a hot shop in the back of our building, so I have my own hot shop that's my husband and I’s hot shop, so I can go at any time and experiment, and that's what I do a lot. I do a lot of experimentation with glass, so there's a lot of techniques that people are always asking like, “How did you do this?” or, “How did you do that?” and it's just through experimenting, and glass is a very expensive medium. I was very fortunate to have had this hot shop that I could sneak down in the middle of the night and see if this works or not or I can crush glass or do different tests with color compatibility.

    What really, truly inspires me is just nature. What I love to do is I like to bring the outdoors inside. As a child growing up, I grew up on Air Force bases, and my dad was in the military. I found that I was trying to always find a place, a refuge, someplace to go for peace and quiet, so no matter where we were, I would always find myself alone either in the desert or in a forest or at a park or someplace where I could just find peace and beauty. I find studying nature is a meditation of life.

    Debora Moore, one of four artists featured in the exhibition Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020, is best known for capturing the expressive potential of flowers with her detailed glass sculptures of orchids, orchid trees, and bamboo shoots. The works featured in Forces of Nature are Moore’s tour de force. The series Arboria (2018), four life-size glass renderings of flowering trees set in rugged terrain, conveys the strong yet fragile nature of not just the glass itself, but the trees they emulate and underscores the power of natural forces and the splendor that derives from persistence. With her work, Moore is interested less in realism and more in capturing an intensely personal experience of beauty and wonder.

    Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 was presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum at its Renwick Gallery from October 16, 2020, to June 27, 2021. The exhibition features artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Each of these invited artists looks to nature as a way to contemplate what it means to be human in a world increasingly chaotic and divorced from our physical landscape. Representing craft media from fiber to mosaic to glass and metals, these artists approach the long history of art’s engagement with the natural world through unconventional and highly personal perspectives.

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