Friday March 16, 2012 | by Lindsay Lowe

SEEN: Starn fascination with intersecting lines stands out at “Glasstress New York” museum exhibit

FILED UNDER: Museums, New Work, Seen

Photographs by Mike and Doug Starn

Brothers Doug and Mike Starn, perhaps best-known in New York for their tree-themed installation at the South Ferry stop on the Number 1 train, and their Big Bambúexhibit atop the Met, are back in Manhattan with a new sculpture for the “Glasstress New York” exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design. They constructed the untitled work from delicate rods of acid-etched glass, echoing at smaller scale the intricate composition of their much larger bamboo installations, which rise to heights of 100 feet.

“Glass has always held a fascination for us,” said Mike Starn in an email exchange with the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet. He added that this project presented some technical challenges, namely because it was on such a small scale compared to their soaring bamboo structures. “Model making for our bambu projects is problematic because of the difficulty of interconnecting the lines,” he said. “The spaces in-between get very small.”

For advice, the Starns turned to Venetian artist Mauro Bonaventura, who specializes in creating abstract cages and spheres from thin glass rods. Bonaventura showed the brothers how to join together two strips of glass using a special UV-cured glue.“This was the answer,” said Mike Starn. “It allowed us to place rods together, dab on some glue and light it with a UV lamp…it almost instantly is cured. It allowed us to work quickly, keeping the work fluid.” After the piece was cured, the brothers took it to a glass treatment facility that helped add an acid-etched effect and a gloss finish.

Photographs by Mike and Doug Starn

The final structure is delicate and airy, and looks as if one light touch might shatter it. Interestingly, although the piece is made entirely of glass, it has a certain organic quality; the intersecting rods look more like sheaves of wheat than pieces of glass, and they are arranged into what could be a loose nest or haystack. Even while using the inorganic medium of glass, the Starns have managed to incorporate the organic imagery that informs much of their other work.

Asked the Starns why they chose to use glass for this project in the first place, seeing as they have traditionally favored the natural material of bamboo for this type of structure, Mike Starn replied that he and his brother were ultimately attracted to glass’s translucency. “As a transparent material that refracts light the way it does,” he said, “it feel for us a good way to talk about the spirit of a concept. This is what we were after with the model.”

“Glasstress New York: New Glass from the Venice Biennales” will be on display at the Museum of Arts and Design until June 10, 2012.

—Lindsay Lowe


GLASSTRESS New York: New Glass from the Venice Biennales
February 14th – June 10th, 2012
2 Columbus Circle,
New York City, NY

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