Heights Arts Showcases CIA Icon Brent Kee Young and His Past Students


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Brent Kee Young’s Around About
  • Brent Kee Young’s Around About
With its latest exhibition, Heights Arts showcases the legacy of Brent Kee Young, professor emeritus and former head of the glass department at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he worked for more than 35 years. Featuring work by both Young and some of his most accomplished students, REFRACTION opens with an artist and community reception from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, June 10.

Born in Los Angeles in 1946, Young is a third generation Chinese artist. Young’s father Victor Cheong Young played Hop Sing, the Cartwrights’ cook on TV’s Bonanza. An unexpected summer spent making pots in a friends studio inspired Young to switch his major from engineering to ceramics at San Jose State University. However, after applying to its master’s program in ceramics, he was instead accepted for his glass work, and received his MFA in 1973 before moving to Cleveland Heights later that year to head CIA’s new glass department.

Young’s most iconic work, known as his Matrix series, is created using quarter-inch rods of glass that he bends into intricate, complex curved shapes and fragile forms. His work can be found in public, private and corporate collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo, Japan, Niijima Contemporary Glass Art Museum in Tokyo and many more. Next time you’re at the Cleveland Museum of Art, be sure to look for his work on view in the permanent collection galleries at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Young’s work is represented by commercial galleries in Cleveland, Columbus, California, Denver, Philadelphia and Jackson, Wyoming.

For this special exhibition, Heights Arts invited 11 artists who studied in his program during his tenure at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Participating artists include Carrie Battista, Robert Coby, Scott Goss, Earl O. James, Brent Marshall, Shawn Messenger, Michael Mikula, Marc Petrovic, Kari Russell-Pool, Mark Sudduth and Linda Zmina. Young’s legacy continues at the Cleveland Institute of Art, as his former student Marc Petrovic took over the program following Young’s retirement.

REFRACTION artist and Young’s former pupil Scott Goss reflects: "The strong foundation Brent builds within his students is evident in the many nationally and internationally known glass artists that have graduated from his program over the last 35+ years. His genuineness as a mentor created an environment in the glass department where each student felt respected, by both him and their fellow students."

REFRACTION at Heights Arts serves as a local follow-up to the Glass Matrix exhibition at the Mansfield Art Center, which ran from January 24 to March 6 earlier this year. Glass Matrix included work by Young, as well as each of the artists featured in REFRACTION at Heights Arts. Glass Matrix filled the Mansfield Art Center’s 5,000 sq. ft. exhibition space. REFRACTION brings this special tribute to Young’s own neighborhood, where he has resided for 43 years.

The term “refraction” refers to the bending of a wave as it enters a medium where the speed is different, i.e. when water bends light. It subtly refers to both the aesthetics and concepts of Young’s work, as well as serving as a metaphor for the impact he had on his students. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 7, Heights Arts hosts Ekphrastacy: Artists Talk + Poets Respond, a related gallery talk offering an opportunity to hear both glass artists and local poets discuss the exhibition. Local poets will respond to selected works from the exhibition. REFRACTION remains on view through July 30.

(Heights Arts) 2175 Lee Rd., 216-371-3457, heightsarts.org

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