Artists Babby, Mallory express their art using non-traditional materials


Traditionally, when people think of art, they expect to see paint on canvas or possibly a stone sculpture. The South Dakota Art Museum has two exhibits on display that have art pieces made from some less traditional materials: glass and metal.

Angela Babby created her Crying For a Vision: A Fluid Odyssey art pieces with pieces of glass, and Cathryn Mallory formed her sculptures with copper and other various metals for her Liminal Surrender series. On Friday, Oct.16, both artists spoke at the art museum’s reception dedicated to their exhibits.

Angela Babby, an artist from Billings, Mont., shared at the reception first. Babby started her career as an artist by painting watercolors. Upon having her artwork ruined in a “torrential Arizona rainstorm,” she decided, “Well, I really like doing this, but if I’m going to do it, I need to do it with a waterproof medium.”

She called upon her experience working at a glass factory in Portland, Ore., a dream job she had to quit because of allergies to the chemicals used at the factory.

After living in Portland, Ore., Babby moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where she owned a decorative painting business and attended art classes. A fellow student in one of her classes encouraged her to delve into the Native Art Market, which she succeeded in entering upon her first try. Taking shards of broken glass she had saved from her job, she “started doing these enameling tests and learning how to paint with vitreous enamels on glass and then fire it in a kiln.”

Now her glass artwork has been featured in Native People’s Magazine, Glass Art Magazine and Southwest Art.

Cathryn Mallory, a gallery director and professor at the University of Montana in Missoula, spoke after Babby. Her art also includes untraditional elements: she crochets and knits various metals, especially copper, brass and fishing weights. Her artwork, specifically the items in her Liminal Surrender series, show an intimacy with the human body and clothing.

On talking about creating her work, she said, “I work strand by strand—it’s very time consuming, so I really create this very intimate relationship with the work. It often is sitting on my lap, I’m cradling it.” Not only the proximity that she shares with her work influences her style though.

A trip to the Netherlands and the Brooklyn Art Museum “attracted [her] to the excessive ornamentation and then, of course, the exaggerated body, the corseted waist, the enormous hoop skirts, these heavily jeweled and ornamented fabrics.”

Her art began to take on the form of collars and dresses, delicate looking pieces suspended by pulleys due to the weight of the metal used. Impressively, her art is all hand-made using regular crocheting and knitting materials.

Angela Babby’s Crying For a Vision: A Fluid Odyssey in Glass is on display from Sept. 22 until Feb. 13. Cathryn Mallory’s Liminal Surrender is on display from Sept. 29 until Feb. 27.