Friday April 3, 2015 | by Justyna Turek

OPENING: Ione Thorkelssohn’s dual exhibitions in Ottowa engage biologies synthetic and natural

On Saturday, April 11th, the L.A. Pai Gallery in Ottowa, Ontario, will present the work of glass sculptor Ione Thorkelssohn at “Emerge Establish Emerge,” a group exhibition showcasing the work of four artists working in two distinct styles: glass sculpture and art jewelry (the other glass artist featured is the kiln-cast work of Cheryl Wilson Smith). An older marine-biology-inspired work by Thorkelssohn, mD31704: partial reconstruction of marine avifauna, will provide an excellent example of her probing of organic forms for universal truths, celebrating the wonder and complexity of the natural world. A concurrent solo exhibition of the Manitoba-based artist's work provides a fascinating counterpoint. Since 2012, when she heard news of a new life form being created in a science lab, Thorkelssohn has wrestled with the implications of this watershed event, one she saw far less debate or discussion of than she expected. Her concerns are given physical form in her solo exhibition "Synthia's Closet," which will be on view at the Ottowa School of Art from April 9 through May 14, 2015.

Using electronics and other elements from dollar-store purchases, Thorkelssohn has crafted a series of unsettling spheres, which hang from the gallery ceiling with a haunting presence. A contrast is drawn between the technological world and the natural one by placing delicate organic forms such as feathers and bones inside the spheres, almost as prisoners to some cold and inhuman future.

"The theme of ‘Synthia’s Closet’, concerning the ambiguities and cultural disquietude surrounding current trends in bioengineering and genetic manipulation, seems as timely and urgent as ever," writes Thorkelssohn in her artist statement. "As this project itself comes to life in my studio, stories about the possible ‘de-extinction’ of lost species, crowd-funded DIY bio-hacking, and cerebral organoids come over the radio daily."

The artist began studying architecture in 1956, but it was lampworking, along with her glass studies at Sheridan College's school of design that would set her on her career path as one of Canada's most-prominent artists using glass. In 2010, Thorkelssohn was awarded the $25,000 Saidye Bronfman Award.

"Emerge Establish Emerge"
April 11 - 30, 2015
L.A. Pai Gallery
13 Murray Street
K1N 9M5 Ottowa, Ontario
Tel: 613 241 2767
"Synthia’s Closet,"
April 9 - May 14, 2015
Ottawa School of Art’s Byward Market Gallery
35 George Street,
K1N 9M5 Ottowa, Ontario
Tel: 613 241 7471

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.