Chihuly's renowned Cylinders and Baskets, his Seaforms and Macchia, his Chandeliers and Fiori -- all have that wow factor. Each series is named for its source of inspiration.
But, as you'll learn from the new exhibit opening this weekend at the
"It is a medium with infinite possibilities," said
Although Chihuly's work -- including some of his working drawings -- are featured in the new exhibit, DeGalan says she wasn't interested in curating another Chihuly show. The museum had hosted a major Chihuly exhibit in 2001.
"The field is exploding with artists who are using new technologies," DeGalan said.
The goal of her current exhibition is to showcase the range of artistic glass art now available.
The amazing pieces on display range from a glass kimono by
Local museum visitors will remember the 2009 William Morris exhibit: It was hard to believe that the objects on display weren't ancient stone or wood carvings but were actually made of glass. You'll see pieces by Morris in the this exhibit as well -- including a horned animal inspired by a type of ceramic or bronze drinking vessel popular in ancient times.
"My hope is that people will come away from this exhibit with new favorites" said DeGalen, who has assembled 50 objects that represent the past 50 years of glass-making.
What you'll see
Although the production and use of functional glass goes back to ancient times -- think tiny oil lamps and vessels -- the birth of the studio glass movement in America begins in 1962 at the
It's the past 50 years of studio glass making that's celebrated in the
Littleton and Labino's secret was the combination of a small brick furnace and low temperature melting-point fiber glass beads. The first DAI gallery is devoted to those artistic glass pioneers -- including Chihuly and
The second gallery focuses on the second generation of artists who work in blown and sculpted glass.
Many artists, including
There's a gallery devoted to fused and cast glass -- which is hot but not blown -- and one highlighting lampwork and flamework, which use a torch or lamp to melt the glass rather than a furnace.
Museum visitors also will see a room and video that memorializes Dayton's well-known glass artist,
Ries and his sunflower
In the final gallery, there are beautiful examples of cold process glasswork including work by
Using a type of glass he calls optical crystal, Reis has produced the largest whole, unassembled pieces of crystal sculpture known. His 1,100-pound glass sunflower on display at the DAI is a showstopper.
"I create simple, elegant pieces that rely on internal reflections to create compositions. I've had the gift of optics," he explained to the docents and museum staff who were touring the exhibit Wednesday afternoon before the show's opening. "When you look at a piece like this, you should know that it was carved from a 3,000-pound block. I use a reductive process and just keep taking away. Look down and you'll see it spin like a pinwheel."
Powell's process involves laying out an intricate pattern of glass beads and rolling them onto the surface of the hot vessel.
His murrine are small bits of beadlike glass that he and his assistants make by hand. Powell lays out up to 2,500 murrine or more for a single work and admits he's sometimes influenced "by a little bit of bourbon."
Unlike Chihuly -- who now designs glass but doesn't physically blow it himself due to two accidents in the late '70s-- Powell does both.
"It's absolutely fun and challenging, like a drug to me," he said. "I have to be in the studio on a regular basis, or I have withdrawal."
Making the work, he adds, is extremely physical.
"I still condition and have to stay in shape to some degree," said Powell, now 62, who first became fascinated with glass at the age of 28 and says glass has the ability to interact with light like no other medium.
It was in graduate school that Powell first saw a hot glass studio being built.
"I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it being done," he said. "I loved what you could do with color, and so I went from painting and ceramics to glass. I'm a pyromaniac. I love the fire element."
He especially enjoys the collaborative process of glass-making.
"As much as I like to be alone in the woods, I wouldn't have survived if I made work by myself," he explained. "I like that aspect -- a bunch of people working together -- and it helps with the discipline."
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