When the Oklahoma City Museum of Art opened its downtown facility in 2002, an exhibit of glassworks created by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly inaugurated the museum in colorful fashion. Ten years later, glass is once again the focus of an exhibit scheduled to open this week.
Titled “Fusion: A New Century of Glass,” the exhibit features works of glass created in the 21st century. Co-curated by Alison Amick and Jennifer Klos, the exhibit celebrates glass as an artistic medium and the diverse ways in which contemporary artists approach that medium.
“When we began looking at this anniversary year, we thought it would be interesting to create an exhibit that looks at glass in a completely different way from what we've done in the past,” said Amick, the museum's curator of collections. “I think we've come up with a good representation of new works that reflects the times in which we live.”
Among the key works are Andrew Erdos' “Texture of a Ghost,” a 2011 work that features handblown glass sculptures and a video installation, Josiah McElheny's 2004 “Landscape Model for Total Reflective Abstraction,” and Luke Jerram's “E. coli,” a 2010 work that explores the tension between scientific objectivity and the cultural perceptions of viruses, diseases and bacteria.
“Fusion” also features 12 snow globes by Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz from their “Travelers” series, a trio of stained glass light boxes by Judith Schaechter, and works by Karen LaMonte that highlight the role of the kimono in Japanese culture.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is Beth Lipman's monumental sculpture “Bride,” a 10-foot, five-tiered dessert stand featuring handmade glass objects that rise, overflow and then spill onto the floor.
Instead of taking a historical approach to glass, Amick and Klos wanted to focus on the future of this fragile medium. After looking at hundreds of possibilities, the co-curators narrowed their focus to 47 works by 20 artists, most of whom are emerging or mid-career artists.
“There's a lot of powerful, dynamic work being done today that incorporates glass,” Amick said. “I think people will be surprised at the diversity of the works in this exhibit, from the powerful to the introspective. They're works that can be enjoyed on a number of different levels.”
Given the fragility of this medium, the installation process has taken longer than usual. Some artists are even planning to come to Oklahoma City to assist with the process. The museum's innovative displays and dynamic lighting promise to accentuate the beauty of this exhibition.
“When you bring up glass, many people have preconceived ideas of what glass is,” Amick said. “It's much more than the utilitarian or the decorative. Glass is becoming more mainstream in terms of contemporary art. There's also been a shift in how glass is viewed. I believe this exhibit will challenge people's ideas about glass and the amazing ways that contemporary artists are approaching it.”