Inspiration: Glass

My husband and I recently went to the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art. I love to visit museums, but I find it works out best when I don’t try to see everything in one go. Lucky for me, a visit to Toledo is a nice little day trip, so I can go just about whenever I get the idea.

There wasn’t a particular reason that I picked the Glass Pavilion, except for the fact that I really like glass, especially art glass. I enjoy photographing it, I love seeing how it reacts with light, I respect its materiality.

During our visit, I realized that the question of “is this a functional object or is it art” that is so prevalent in photography can also be asked about glass. The notion of “art or craft?” has been around for only a short time in art historical terms, is this “blurring” about the material, or is it more about the society in which it is made?

Ah, but that is a question for further study, and not what I wanted to share here. The particular exhibit we saw was showing glass that is held in private collections, which means pieces that aren’t often seen by the public. We also spent a few moments in the Glass Study Room and saw items in the TMA permanent collection.

A thick glass tile with shapes that look like sea creatures.

Steffen Dam, Picture Block

I liked this work by Dam because of its organic feel, and for its echo of natural history books. I photographed it with the damp-stained curtain in the background because it extended the feeling of being in the water.

A round vase/bowl with a narrow hole. There is a seascape image on it.

Nicole Ayliffe, Coast at Byron Bay

Ayliffe’s work is the most “photographic” of the pieces, what with the photograph being attached to the glass and all. I’m not a fan of doing image transfers, but I appreciate when others do them. This is a well-done example and makes me wonder if there are other ways to incorporate photography and glass.

Bright green lime. Scale is not indicated.

Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, Lime

Wow. This piece is about the size of a football. I also love the color — lime green is one of my favorites. I appreciate the skill involved in making this piece — it feels like it would weigh about as much as a balloon.

Eyes and hands in frosted glass.

Preston Singletary, Chest

This internally-lit double-sided sculpture interprets Tlingit imagery into a different medium. A lovely way of separating “function” from “symbol”.

Rectangular cube with layers of red and clear glass. There are concentric circles in the layers.

Tom Patti, Spectral Starphire

This “stacked” glass sculpture scratches my math/geometry itch.

Large triangular shiny piece with smaller facets inside

Chrisopher Ries, Point of View

Sometimes a piece surprises you with its depth. This is a wonderful example of a “smooth” surface showing more than you would expect. Each face of the sculpture (and each orientation of the viewer with respect to the surface) exposes a different geometric arrangement.

Peach and green thick triangles look like they're held up by air. They are connected by an orange and brown rectangle.

William Carlson, Pragnanz, Series II

This assemblage is in the study gallery, so it’s not the best way to appreciate it from all angles, but I like how it makes use of varied materials. It was completed in 1986, and I must say that it feels like it’s from the ’80s.

Dusty pink and aqua/green tall bowl/vase with arrow head shapes running horizontally around the length of it.

Karla Trinkley, Pink Bowl

Another one from the study gallery, this piece by Trinkley reminds me that glass is not always smooth.

The pictures here were made for my own study — I encourage you to visit the artists’ websites to see more of their work.