One may think of glass as a fragile, beautiful, inspiring or sentimental artistic medium, but there’s a lot more to it than that, as a show at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, makes clear.
Called “Fusion (A New Century of Glass),” the exhibit, curated by the museum’s Alison Amick and Jennifer Klos, contains 47 very diverse and imaginative works by 20 contemporary glass artists.
Letters in glass spheres cast their shadows in “Find & Seek,” a work by Marc Petrovic, which leaves it up to us to discover words associated with its subtitle, “the pursuit of happiness,” in the alphabet grid.
A cascade of silver-lined glass beads from the ceiling may suggest a “Deluge” to some, or something less threatening, like a magical waterfall, to others, in a 2003 work by Lisa Capone.
Tiny figures in a 12-part collaborative series by Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz-based on kitsch, collectible snow globes, suggest the perils a “Traveler,” or travelers, may encounter.
A giant spider menaces a sleeping man under a bare-branched tree in one work from the Martin-Munoz series, and a dog barks at the heels of a nude ice skater in a second. Snow falls on people perched on pinnacles, looking down at gesturing hands of a swimmer, in one of several large color photos of the globes (which can’t be turned over by visitors).
Bringing to mind the “glass menagerie” of author Tennessee Williams are the tiny, translucent glass objects lined up atop an imposing brick wall in a 2003 work by German artist Matthias Megyeri.
Megyeri’s “Sweet Dreams Security Series” was created “in response to the extensive use of security products” and “the ambiguity of national attitudes to…the threat of terrorism,” a gallery note informs us.
Shiny glass objects seem to be part of and flow from the surface of a low mirror table which resembles an artist’s giant palette in Josiah McElheny’s “Landscape Model for Total Reflective Abstraction.”
Cut glass ice buckets, lit from above, seem “Aglow,” in a sculptural installation by Katherine Gray which, we are informed, explores “the environmental impact of industrial and studio glassmaking.”
Animal-like glass figures, attached to reflecting walls like bizarre trophies, as well as skylines and landscape vistas, surround the viewer in a closed room, like a hall of mirrors, in a work by Andrew Erdos.
Erdos calls his startling 2011 glass, mirror, wood and video “room” installation, which must be visited by one viewer at a time, “The Texture of a Ghost.”
Susan Taylor Glasgow creates her own figurative, anthropomorphic versions of a coffee pot, hen basket and cookie jar, in a nostalgic but biting commentary on the housewife’s role during the 1950s.
Translucent glass castings of Japanese kimonos, without figures in them, become ethereally beautiful, almost ghostly objects in three life-sized, free-standing sculptures by Karen LaMonte.
LaMonte is an American artist living in the Czech Republic who is known for work dealing with “dress and the topography of the body.”
In “Charlotte’s Web,” Charlotte Potter explores the social network with 864 hand-engraved portraits of her friends on Facebook, strung up like a giant necklace made up of individual cameos on the wall.
In the “Sweet Thing” and “Love Muscle,” Australian artist Timothy Horn greatly enlarges wall sculptures based on seventeenth centurty earring and brooch designs to create a strong visual impact.
David K. Chatt covers found objects with orange-red glass beads in “108 Meditations in Saffron,” and Mark Reigelman II covers room furnishings with broken green glass in his “Breaking the Bottle Installation.”
Making us think about the body and its vulnerability to disease are British artists Luke Jerram and Clifford Rainey.
Jerram’s “E.coli” virus, enlarged 100,000 times, is beautiful but creepy, balancing on a mirror surface, while Jerram’s split mixed media torso of a woman, after a mastectomy, is both touching and alluring.
More complex in compositional terms is a “Memory Box,” full of test tubes, specimen jars and glass display panels, which Danish artist Steffen Dam uses to “question the idea of scientific objectivity.”
A double nude and robed red figure, with raised and gesturing hands, offers “An Invocation,” between ladders and trees, in one of several stained glass works, mounted in light boxes, by Judith Schaechter.
In “Peacemaker,” Kari Russell makes us feel her discomfort with America’s gun culture, by offering us a depiction of a glass revolver, surrounded by letters, like a piece of needlework.
Argentinean artist Silvia Levenson makes us think by putting glass grenades in small, square boxes, with delicate, pastel-hued frames, and love written over them, in several languages, on glass.
Ending the show with an exclamation point is “Bride,” a monumental, room-filling, five-level 2010 work by Beth Lipman.
“Bride” resembles a gigantic wedding cake, whose tiers are filled with glass objects that seem to be breaking and spilling off its lower levels, like romantic illusions falling or being shattered.
Making us an offer which is almost impossible to refuse, the spectacular “Fusion” show is highly recommended and shouldn’t be missed during its run through Sept. 9.
Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays; and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets are $12 for adults; and $10 for senior citizens 62 or over, college students and children ages 6 to 18; and $5 for members of the military. Museum members and children five or under are admitted free.
Call 236-3100 or visit the website at www.okcmoa.com for information.