Amber Cowan

She // Her // Hers

[ID: Amber, a woman with long light brown hair, looks at the camera in front of a white background. She is wearing a bright red sweater and blue shirt with white polka dots.]

Glass Artist
Philadelphia, PA
2021 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Windgate Foundation.

Amber Cowan creates sculptural glasswork centered on recycled, upcycled, and second-life American pressed glass. Using flameworking, hot-sculpting, and glassblowing techniques, Cowan constructs large-scale sculptures that overwhelm the viewer with ornate abstraction and viral accrual in an instinctive display of horror vacui. The primary material used for her work is glass cullet sourced from scrapyards supplied by now-defunct pressed glass factories as well as flea markets, antique stores, and donations of broken antiques from households across the country. Her pieces reference memory, domesticity, and the loss of industry through the reuse of these common items from the aesthetic dustbin of American design.

Her recent diorama-style pieces tell stories of self-discovery, escapism, and female loneliness utilizing figurines and animals found in collected antique glass pieces. These figurines become recurring symbols in an evolving narrative while simultaneously paying homage to the history of US glassmaking.

She lives and works in Philadelphia, where she received an MFA in Ceramics/Glass from the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. Cowan was the recipient of the 2014 Rakow Commission from the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY, and her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence.

Portrait photo by Constance Mensh.
  • Artwork by Amber Cowan
    Hen Collecting All Her Ova, 2020. Glass and mixed media, dimensions 18 × 20 × 9.5 inches. Photo by Constance Mensh.
    [ID: A rectangular wall sculpture entirely composed of and exploding with small, densely packed flowers, leaves, balls, and various botanicals sculpted from light brown opaque glass. Concave at its center, the sculpture cradles a shell holding a hen and overflowing with tiny balls.]
  • Artwork by Amber Cowan
    Dance of the Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset, 2020. Glass and mixed media, dimensions 34 × 46 × 12.5 inches. Photo by Constance Mensh.
    [ID: A rectangular-shaped wall sculpture made of all pink glass, resembling a ballet stage with curtains. Two pink ballerinas stand in front of a sunset, ocean, and mountain. On their right is a fish and on the left is a small pitcher painted with flowers.]
  • Artwork by Amber Cowan
    Snail Passing Through the Garden of Inanna, 2019. Glass and mixed media, dimensions  22 × 19.5 × 10.5 inches. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush.
    [ID: A rectangular glass wall sculpture of bright opaque green. In the center is a vase with the image of a goddess figurine floating with a scarf. There are flora, tendrils, feathers, mushrooms and assorted other organic matter coming out of the vase as well as around it. Next to the vase on the ground is a snail.]
Artwork by Amber Cowan Artwork by Amber Cowan Artwork by Amber Cowan