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Biography: Karli Wurzelbacher

Karli Wurzelbacher

Karli Wurzelbacher, a specialist in the history of 20th-century American art at the University of Delaware in Newark, was awarded a Rakow Grant for Glass Research. Wurzelbacher earned her master's degree in art history from Hunter College, City University of New York, and bachelor's degrees in art history and international studies from the Ohio State University. The focus of Wurzelbacher's research is the reverse paintings on glass of Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), dating from the 1910s.

These works will be studied in relation to the vernacular glass painting of New England, examples of which are part of the Garbisch Collection at The Corning Museum of Glass. This research will foster new knowledge on the multivalent role of glass in modern American painting, Wurzelbacher says. My emphasis on the materiality and the embodied making and viewing of reverse painting on glass will serve as a model for reinvigorating study of this traditional, global art form. Her dissertation, titled "Working Backwards: American Modernism and Reverse Painting on Glass,"; explores the influence of 19th-century reverse painting on glass in New England on Hartley's work.

Hartley took up reverse painting during the summer of 1917 in Ogunquit, Maine, Wurzelbacher explains. "Modern artists in residence there looked to the vernacular art of the region as a uniquely American creative tradition, a usable past" that would serve as the basis for a new national art ... I will examine the vernacular objects that inspired Hartley's reverse paintings of flowers and corn. In doing so, I consider what happens when a modern artist adopts not just the aesthetic of older art, but its actual methods of making. My research will also complicate received ideas about the connection of matte surfaces to the "primitive" and the association of glossiness with consumer commodities.