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Mythical Bounty: Glass Sculpture by Amber Cowan

At the Brunnier Art Museum
Lori A. Jacobsen Gallery
Wednesday, January 19 - Sunday, May 15, 2022

Look closely to discover hidden treasures within intricately detailed glass sculptures. Returning new life to discarded pressed glass.



Amber Cowan creates intricately detailed glass sculptures that invite the viewer to look closely to discover hidden treasures and stories among the swirls, curls, leaves, and patterns. Inspired by the colorful pressed glass of the 20th century, Cowan uses her inspiration directly within the art she creates. By salvaging objects and cullet from some of the best known, yet now defunct, American pressed glass manufactories, she gives the glass a new life as contemporary sculpture. Her complex dioramas and three-dimensional sculptures often use existing historic pressed glass objects she finds beautiful, then the remaining glass of the same color is melted down and painstakingly flameworked and blown to fill the space with ornament. Each sculpture has a narrative that must be sought out by the viewer as they peer through the many layers of glass ornament she has created. Cowan is both reinvigorating and honoring the many American glass manufactories that produced pressed glass wares by the thousands throughout the 20th century. She brings new life to the discarded glass of the past, but also gives a place of prominence and appreciation to a type of glass that is often disregarded by modern generations of consumers.


Mythical Bounty celebrates The Dreams of a Descendant Sireneuse, the new work of art University Museums has commissioned from Cowan for the permanent collection. The addition of Cowan’s sculpture connects with the range of Early American Pressed Glass of the Iowa Questers Collection within the permanent collection, while also expanding the variety and depth of the contemporary glass collection. The exhibition also includes both recent and newly created sculptures by Cowan. Each sculpture tells a unique visual story that Cowan has meticulously created, drawing viewers into a world that seems almost alive and blooming in front of their eyes.


TOP IMAGE: Detail of The Dreams of a Descendant of Sirenuse, 2021 by Amber Cowan. Flameworked glass, found glass, mixed media, powder coated aluminum frame. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush.

SECOND IMAGE: Fish and Nets in Periwinkle and Milk, 2021 by Amber Cowan. Flameworked and Found Glass. On loan from the artist. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush.


Exhibition Programs

Find full descriptions of programs on the University Museums Calendar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged. Events listed below will be at the Brunnier Art Museum unless otherwise noted. Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Opening and Artist Lecture

Wednesday, January 19, 4:00-6:30 pm

Visit the fantastical world of glass artist Amber Cowan during the opening reception for the exhibition Mythical Bounty from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. Then stay to hear Cowan speak about her highly intricate works of art and her unique process of repurposing pressed glass at 5:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served during the reception.


Glassblowing Demonstration and Discussion

Thursday, March 3, 5:30-6:30 pm
Livestreamed event with limited in-person seating. Registration required for in-person attendees.
Glassblowing Studio, Student Innovation Center, 606 Bissell Road, Ames
Livestream link will be available soon

Enjoy a night of fire and glass! University Museums and the Gaffer’s Guild will present a live event for a limited in-person audience, while also livestreaming the entire event. Students, faculty, and staff glass blowers will demonstrate the process of creating blown glass and afterwards discuss how they came to glass blowing as a hobby or passion. This event is in partnership with the Student Innovation Center and the Gaffer’s Guild.

Click here to watch on YouTube

Visit the Brunnier Art Museum


Wednesday - Friday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Closed to the public Monday & Tuesday. ISU curriculum tours may be scheduled on these days with a 2-week notice.

Closed University Holidays

Address: Scheman Building (2nd Floor), 1805 Center Drive, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free; however, there is a suggested donation of $8.

This exhibition is curated and organized by the artist, Amber Cowan, and University Museums with Heller Gallery. Generous support for the exhibition was given by Lee Huey in honor of Gayle Huey; Carol Grant; Betty and Dennis Keeney; Janelle and George McClain; Lucinda and Dirk Scholten; Clifford Smith; and University Museums Membership.

Supported by the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau Community Grant Program. 515.232.4032 |

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