At his new exhibition “From a Distance,” which opened on Saturday, January 9, Gene Koss unveiled a wide range of mixed-media work. The new glass-and-metal works at Arthur Roger Gallery in downtown New Orleans reference two very different environments — the majestic rural landscape of Wisconsin farmland where Koss grew up, and the more vulnerable Mississippi River Delta ecosystem, where man-made engineering vies with the unruly river and gulf waters that are held at bay, imperfectly, through an elaborate system of levees and dams.
Finding beauty in uneasy balance, Koss perches glass atop massive steel bases, both found and formed, to accentuate a sense of vulnerability. In other works, long horizontal beams of steel support complex cast-glass forms, a dialogue between the more-rational metal architecture and more organic glass elements. This is most evident in one work, Barn (2015), in which the building is steel and the nearby towering tree, a green glowing glass, a unusually figurative work for the sculptor and Tulane professor. Koss is best when he’s translating the unnamed dialogues of lightness versus mass, and order versus nature, in monumental works whose fabrication poses knotty engineering challenges.