Visitors to the Vero Beach Museum of Art often find their curiosity sparked by an enigmatic glass sculpture. The work portrays a lady’s dress, complete with beautifully detailed folds and drapery, yet it is made entirely of glass. And while the dress has its own kind of posture — relaxed yet poised — there is no portrayal of a human figure. This ethereal and mysterious sculpture is entitled “Reclining Dress Absence.” The work of artist Karen LaMonte, it is a treasured piece in VBMA’s permanent collection.
LaMonte, whose work is also part of the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the National Gallery of Australia, recently made a virtual visit to Vero Beach to speak to the VBMA community. During this encounter, she expressed appreciation for the many docents who were part of the event. “One of the first things I ask when I go to a museum is, ‘Can I sit and have coffee with all the docents? I would love to meet them.’” LaMonte is thankful for the enthusiasm of museum docents and for the way they help to introduce the public to her work.
“Reclining Dress Absence” is a fascinating work in itself, but it is also a part of LaMonte’s life story as a sculptor. She was born in New York and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1999, she was granted a Fulbright scholarship and traveled to Prague to work in the glass-casting studios and factories of eastern Bohemia. While there, she began working on life-size glass sculptures of dresses — pieces that would foreshadow “Reclining Dress Absence.”