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'Sculpting in Glass' Show Highlights Summer Arts Fare

June 14, 2005

Dale Chihuly, Fireside Yellow and Red Persian with Black Lip Wraps, 2000, blown glass. From the collection of Ann and Bruce Bachmann. ©Dale Chihuly. Photo by Scott M. Leen.

Glass is an ancient art material that often defies artistic imaginations of many talented contemporary artists, including established artists such as Harvey Littleton, Dale Chilhuly and William Morris, as well as rising talents in the field such as Jose Chardiet and Martin Blank.

Unique works of art in glass by these and others will be featured in the summer 2005 exhibition “Sculpting in Glass,” at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. The exhibition is free and open to the public from July 15 to Aug. 28.

“One goal of the exhibition,” said Block Museum Director David Robertson, “is to test and challenge the place of glass within the established hierarchies of the arts by placing it in a fine arts museum setting and exploring its purely sculptural qualities. We want to blur the distinctions that have kept the medium of glass within its own segment of art criticism and theory.”

Glass works in the Block Museum exhibition were drawn from prominent Chicago-area private collections. The exhibition, curated by School of the Art Institute of Chicago Professor James Yood, was organized by Northwestern’s Block Museum.

The Block Museum exhibition will survey the various forms of glass and diverse concepts contemporary artists introduced to the medium during the past 30 years. The exhibition will highlight established and up and coming North American, European and Australian artists working in the medium.

Glass is often a vehicle for personal expression or for broader symbols and ideas, and some artists engage glass in a dialogue with the past. Artists continue the tradition of the 20th century Studio Glass Movement, working with glass in exhilarating ways that sometimes defy expectations of glass as an art medium.

During the 20th century, the Studio Glass Movement became a defining phase in the history of glass. Moving beyond vessel-based forms, roots in functionality and ancient techniques, glass artists developed traditional and innovative approaches to push the limits of the medium and create highly individualized styles of glass sculpting. An extremely malleable material when hot, glass can be transparent or opaque, curvilinear or rectilinear, fragile or durable.

“Glass has experienced an extraordinary renaissance in the last few decades,” said Yood. “The floodgates that pioneer artists such as Littleton, Chihuly and Marvin Lipofsky opened in the 1960s still swing wide today. Functionality in all of its ramifications was among the first topics to be plumbed, and exhibited here are the many varied and continued conversations on that subject.”

The Block Museum summer exhibition will feature more than 50 art objects. Highlights include Chihuly’s dazzling multi-piece “Fireside Yellow and Red Persian with Black Lip Wraps,” Nicholas Africano’s marble-like figural sculpture “Standing Figure in Gray Flannel Pants,” and Thermon Statom’s playful glass and mixed media “Maison des Cartes.”

A fund-raising opening night reception hosted by The Auxiliary of Northwestern Evanston Healthcare’s American Craft Exposition at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 14, will support breast and ovarian cancer research at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. Admission is $35 per person.

The Auxiliary’s 21st Annual American Craft Exposition will coincide with the final weekend of the Block Museum’s exhibition (Aug. 26 to 28); the exposition will be held at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, 2311 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. For more information on the reception and the American Craft Exposition, call The Auxiliary at (847) 570-5095 or visit www.americancraftexpo.org.

Other related programs this summer include a free lecture “Contextualizing Contemporary Glass” at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 21, by exhibition curator James Yood and a family faux glass-sculpting program from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug.  7, for children aged 7 to 14 and their parents. Reservations are required. The cost is $5 per family, free for Block Museum members. For reservations, call (847) 491-4852.

Docent-led tours of the exhibition and related works in the Block’s outdoor Sculpture Garden will begin at 2 p.m. every Saturday from July 16 to Aug. 27. The museum also will offer guided tours of the Sculpture Garden at 2 p.m. every Sunday from June 26 to Aug. 28. Tours are free and no reservations are required.

The Block Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Admission to the Block Museum’s “Sculpting in Glass” exhibition is free. For more information, call (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Museum web site at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu.

Topics: Campus Life