Happy Friday! Today on Museum Bites, we’re rounding out our ramble through the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA) with the second half of our tour through their dazzling collection of sculptured glass. From dewy raindrops to dancing rams, join me for a look at how this fragile material has been melted, molded and cut into brilliant works of art. Our first piece was created using an age-old technique…
Crimson Rain: Vladimira Klumpar’s After Rain (2007), features a swirl of crimson raindrops precariously dangling in anticipation of either popping or dropping. Klumpar frequently features vivid depictions of nature in her glasswork, such as her deep amber Eruption (2014), tangy Orange Flower (2001), and lethal black and gold Jaguar (2017). She has even recreated After Rain (2009) in a stunning cobalt blue. Klumpar creates her lush designs by casting glass, an ancient practice that involves pouring molten glass into a mold. Molds can be made from a variety of materials including clay, graphite, metal, plaster, silicone, and even sand which results in a gritty texture.
The ancient Romans were industrious glassmakers and devised clever ways to increase their production. From casting to blowing, to mold-blowing the ancient Romans churned out pretty and practical bling. Click on this Museum Bites: Shatter Proof link to learn more about the art and history of ancient Roman glass. Can’t get enough? Click on this Roman Mold-Blown Glass video courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass to witness this ancient art in action. And finally, if you’d like to see more of Klumpar’s magnificent work, click on this Vladimira Klumpar link.
Fun Chilly Fact: Cold working glass occurs post-kiln when the glass has cooled and artists can cut, engrave, etch, or in some way decorate their work.
Space Odyssey: Open the pod bay doors Hal! Jay Musler’s Visions of Space (2001) is an interstellar wonder. Tricked out in icy blue, the multi-layered latticework is home to cone-shaped appendages that bring to mind exotic flowers or deep sea jellies. Musler’s piece is an excellent example of lampwork glass. Lampwork or flamework glass is achieved by softening glass rods over a flame in order to shape it into a desired object. This technique originally used an oil or paraffin lamp, hence the name lampwork. Today, glass artists employ a gas torch. Click on this Museum Bites: Weighty Wonders link to learn more about how lampwork is used to create stunning paperweights. To view more of Jay Musler’s out of this world latticework art, click on this Jay Musler Gallery link.
Fun Jelly Fact: Comb jellies sport eight glittering rows of delicate combs made of cilia. The combs help the jellies swim and their translucent structure diffracts light, causing a multi-colored shimmering. But beware the comb jelly’s bite! They are avid carnivores and their stomachs can stretch to accommodate prey twice their size. Comb jellies frequently munch on their fellow comrades.
Flower Power: Our next piece is a gorgeous aqua blue vase infused with daffodils. The aptly named Daffodil Vase by Kimiake Higuchi was created using the pâte de verre technique. Pâte de verre is a process where glass is ground into minute granules, sprinkled into a mold, and heated in a kiln where the tiny bits fuse together.
Pâte de verre produces lavish works of art that bear a grainy, sugar-like texture. Kimiake Higuchi is a master pâte de verre sculptor. Her work often features leafy green vegetables and springtime flowers. To see Higuchi at her craft, click on this pâte de verre demonstration, courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass.
Pagan Dance: Twisting Aries Dancer (2004) by David Bennett is a breathtaking piece. Crafted from blown glass and set in a muscular bronze frame, the subject’s amber eyes glow eerily behind his horned mask. Flexing and arching his body, this pagan dancer pays homage to Aries the Ram of zodiac fame. David Bennett’s collection features a dizzying array of acrobatic sculpture. Dancers, trapeze artists, and tumblers soar through the air, showcasing, in Bennett’s words, glass’s playfulness and “fluidity”. To view more of his spectacular work, click on this David Bennett link.
Fun Ram Fact: Aries the Ram is not to be confused with Ares, the Greek god of war. Although both are headstrong, Aries the Ram had a golden fleece and was sacrificed by Phrixus to honor Zeus, who kindly placed him in the heavens as a constellation. Aries is the zodiac sign for those born between March 21 and April 19.
That wraps up our trip through the Flint Institute of Arts. If you’re ever in the neighborhood I highly recommend you visit this hidden gem of a museum. Next week, we’ll be ringing in the changing of the clocks with a look at pillows. Until then, have a fantastic week!
Cover photo by Michael Haderer, courtesy of Pixabay.