by Andrew Page
The radiance of glass—the way it can reflect, transmit, or absorb light—is one of its most distinguishing features. All five of the artists featured in this Spring edition closely engage with this luminous magic in unique ways. Take our cover article, which explores new work by the most well-known glass artist in the world. Winning over the public with chromatically explosive works that hit with the visual intensity of fireworks, Dale Chihuly has made a career of intensifying color by harnessing how light glances off his work’s richly hued forms. Just look at the vivid shades he uses to draw record-breaking crowds to his botanical garden interventions or flamboyant museum installations
But Chihuly’s newest body of work marks a sharp turn inwards. In the painted glass panels that make up his Glass on Glass works, another sort of radiance is at work—vivid coloration is watered down by transparency as Chihuly explores the permeability of glass to light. The resulting large-format panels depict his signature expressionist forms rendered in glass enamels which, layered on sheets of clear glass, are diluted by the light flooding through them. The effect is transformational. Glass contributing editor Victoria Josslin visited with Chihuly to discuss the significance of the Glass on Glass series, and meditates on the shift in mood and tone in this 78-year-old artist’s late-period work.
Chihuly cites the stained glass in European cathedrals as inspiration for his latest body of work. The glassblowing duo of Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg took this one step further when they took over Canterbury Cathedral, a site of historic religious pilgrimage, for their site-specific installations considering contemporary refugees and migration. Titled “Under an Equal Sky,” their large-scale assemblages of blown glass owe a considerable debt to the vision and innovations of Chihuly, but also employ the ability of glass to capture and amplify ambient light. Jeffrey Sarmiento dissects the project and its effects in an insightful article.
Cobi Cockburn takes glass in a different direction with her white-hued landscape paintings in kiln-formed glass that capture light in their intricately worked surfaces. Glass contributing editor William V. Ganis examines her past and current work and discovers a three-dimensionality that lures viewers into considerations of perception and existence.
A disciple of the traditional Muranese glass techniques she learned assisting Lino Tagliapietra, Nancy Callan has forged her own way, developing a series of graphically bold blown-glass forms that embrace strongly contrasting colors and unusual cane patterns that amplify and celebrate wavelengths of light. Contributing editor William Warmus deems her work “pungent and pure.”
To celebrate this new Spring season, our last feature, by contributor Alexander Castro, presents a thoughtful take on Harvard’s “Glass Flowers,” the way many refer to one of the most extensive collections of the virtuosic achievements of lampworkers Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. Castro considers the aesthetic implications of their uncanny mimicry of botanical forms, which, since a 2016 renovation, are presented with greater focus and improved lighting and display conditions. As the season brings warmer weather and longer days, this issue celebrates all the ways glass brings us light.