Today: Cassandra Straubing at the Oakland Museum of California

He kissed his wife and kids good-bye and hitched a ride to Lodi; to work the fields at the peak of the summer’s heat, in hopes for an early harvest of the fall. 2012. Cast glass, found object. Installation. 69 x 18 x 7 in. Collection of the artist. Photo credit: Esteban Salazar
Cassandra Straubing (b. 1978). BFA California Polytechnic-San Luis Obispo, 2002. MFA Rochester Institute of Technology, 2007. Lecturer, Glass Faculty Head and Studio Coordinator, San Jose State University, 2005–present.

My work explores the sociological aspects of working-class garments and the tools of bluecollar labor — how they define a person, externally and internally. These objects become a representation and a symbol of what a person does to contribute to western society and culture. They become a skin, defining a person’s economic and social position as well as their gender role.  Clothing, used as a skin to cover the vulnerable and fragile body, is rendered transparent in glass. The viewer can see through the superficial definitions of gender and status to a personal truth without the exterior facade society so readily judges.

In my other recent glasswork, I use washing and mending as metaphors for the cleansing and repair of an emotional state of mind: the decontamination of the stain of a memory. The art symbolizes cutting out an uncomfortable section of personal history, repairing it, and stitching it together with a previous life to create a new life ahead. The choice to fabricate and cast these objects in glass lends itself conceptually to the sociological study of these belongings and the social systems that surround them. Glass displays ghostly reminiscences, representing a personal history or memory left behind. Glass can also portray a lack of memory, representing the invisibility of an uncomfortable emotion. Glass is a window for the viewer to explore what might otherwise never be seen. —Cassandra Straubing

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