Tiffany's Furnace by Stephen M. Cadwalader Louis Comfort Tiffany embodied and in many respects summed up the guiding spirit of 19th Century American Art. He was uniquely American in his artistic invention. Born into the height of an age's innovation, in which Victorian principles provided spiritual guidance, Tiffany found himself being led into a new realm of art-making. He not only changed our perception of the picture plane, but he re-established the means and materials by which the process traditionally manifested itself. While the reasons and circumstances that lead Tiffany to that place were surely complex, it is probably fair to assert that he was guided by the pull of the extraordinary chemical process of photography. Tiffany recognized his own limitations as a painter and ultimately when he found the medium of glass, it enthralled him with its limitless technical possibilities. The idea that he could physically paint with light and work with a medium that had both the transparent quality of watercolors and the physical properties of stone, must have fulfilled his spiritual convictions and ambitions. He created an oeuvre, in which beauty was not merely captured by means of rendition, but by a nearly alchemical process that initiated an often unknown or at least unpredictable outcome. It was the lure of this process that sparked Tiffany’s imagination and embodied the hidden meanings of the spiritual and sublime. The American condition at its best was motivated by the awe-inspiring and seemingly endless frontier of a bountiful continent. Artists, such as Thomas Cole, looked upon a largely untouched natural environment with all of the uncertainties of a place that magnified ones experience of it; our trepidations, superstitions, and our greed to suppress and own it at the same time. But a different understanding of self developed in the 20th Century - one, in which we largely stopped looking at the expanse of nature and started looking into our own. Artists such as Jackson Pollock who also acknowledged his own limitations as a representational artist, looked into new meanings of self-purpose. And with that endeavor of self-discovery, he looked for new techniques to express those ends. These explorations opened the door to a new understanding of art-making and a new way of interpreting the picture plane. By their profound motivation they captured a glance of the sublime, an accidental beauty, in which some effect transcends itself into another. A mutually shared response to these artists was the, at times, unexpected magical effect of the accident. As any sensitive observer will recognize, there are pronounced readily recognizable images to be found in nature’s arbitrary formations. These observations might provoke us to ask how a perfectly imagined landscape can be formed in a polished cross section of sedimentary stone, for example, without a seemingly guiding hand. Perhaps these are often self-imaginings but they exist in our consciously realized world as they do in our unconscious. They also exist without a concrete or satisfying explanation. Perhaps our rational notion of things must block the constant realization of their existence if for nothing else but to deny our superstitions or our fear of deeper associations. It is with real pleasure that we engage the photography of John D'Agostino, who is acutely aware of the historical significance of his source material and the spiritual significance it embodies. I think we can best leave it to the viewer to evaluate whether we are witnessing a microcosm or macrocosm? Are we viewing the cellular structure of an onion, for example or are we peeling back the onion to see what really is at its core? John D’Agostino provides us with a myriad of images. Of course he is visiting his own stories but there is an intellect hard at work here. He is waiting for us to explore this special place in image making and interpretation, while in the meantime establishing his own unique vision of it.