The Precious Nature of Water Ripples Through Maya Lin’s Sprawling Installations
Water is both versatile and undisguised. Its magnitude is only made possible by its minute, microscopic makeup, and this equilibrium is what carries its message. It’s what makes water so precious, so fluid.
Maya Lin’s A Study of Water mimics these qualities in scale, subject, form, and material. Lin has previously erected public land sculptures from the earth’s materials, called “Wavefields,” that speak to the interconnectedness of natural systems. Through this new exhibition, she takes these motifs even further by focusing on the liquid’s melodious nature.
In fact, Lin’s works are their own kind of harmony. Several of her pieces are made with recycled silver, a precious and reflective natural material, as a counterpart to water that emphasizes its value. In “Flow,” she uses salvaged wood to mimic wave textures. The specific combinations of natural and rescued materials—each imbued with weighted meaning—create a chorus the same way that climate change (the root note), deforestation and over mining (the third), and an increase of water-based natural disasters (the fifth) creates a triad.
Lin’s practice is a swirl of decades of research, her architectural background, and poetic expression, and she speaks the language of nature and the human heart. Each piece is made to amplify the gravity of humanity’s environmental impact on this treasured resource and each other. For example, in “Marble Chesapeake & Delaware Bay,” the artist expands notions of connectedness by changing the perspective. The unification of the two waterways as marbles challenges us to think beyond the small, contained bites of our everyday interactions with the liquid and instead, see it as the celestial force that draws us to each other.
A Study of Water, which is on view at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, literally sits between the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay. These bodies are not only central points of Lin’s fascination with the subject, but they also provide a physical locale to ponder the unseen connections humanity often takes for granted. Her career is a bridge between architecture, art, and activism—expanding always like water but never too detached from its simultaneous nature.
For more of the artist’s works, visit her site.
Share this story
Repurposed Stained Glass Comprises a Disorienting Illuminated Greenhouse by Heywood & Condie
A brilliant greenhouse suffused with a rich spectrum of color stands at 25 Porchester Place in London. Bathed in sunlight by day and illuminated by LED bulbs at night, the translucent structure is lined with a disorienting collage of Christian iconography and folkloric imagery: saintly figures sprout insect wings and wildlife occupies spaces usually dominated by humans in a melange of spiritual symbols.
Titled “Sacré blur,” the greenhouse is a 2015 project by horticultural artists Tony Heywood and Alison Condie, who originally created the piece to house psychedelic plants at the Oxford Botanic Gardens—this part of the project never materialized over fears that students might misuse the hallucinatory specimens. The intention for the sculpture revolved around the idea of sacred light, the foremost example being stained glass, and creating a transcendent space complete with a mirrored infinity floor. “We are gardeners,” Heywood shares with Colossal. “The greenhouse is an architect’s equivalent of a temple. It’s where life begins and the ritual of caring and nurture take place.”
The London-based pair, who work as Heywood & Condie, began by dismantling hundreds of panels, some of which dated back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and following the patterns and grisaille to splice new creatures. They then glued the layered works to the existing frame of a greenhouse. “The idea is nature transforming and using the stained glass as a medium to visit a (time) when we worshiped plants, insects, and animals, as opposed to the Christian line of thinking that humans are above animals, above everything,” Heywood says.
This connection to the earth alongside an interest in the broad reaches of spirituality influence the pair’s practice, particularly those relating to creation myths and about bringing new life into existence. “Church is about shifting our consciousness and making us think of where we lie in the world and likewise, whether it’s a psychedelic experience or a meditative experience, it’s about shifting our attention,” he shares. “Gardening is an act of creation.”
“Sacré blur” has been exhibited in multiple locations in recent years and will be at its current spot for the coming weeks. Heywood & Condie have a few works in progress at the moment, including an alphabetical labyrinth on a northwest U.K. beach and an obelisk collection mixing religious stained glass along with pieces from early pinball and gambling machines that will be on view at Vigo Gallery. You can also see their works as part of The Poetry of Trees, which opens at The Atkinson in Southport on June 4, and on June 11, a series of jewel-encrusted marine microorganisms will float across The Water Gardens at Marble Arch in London. (via Steampunk Tendencies)
Share this story
Sinuous Tentacles and Intricate Spider Legs Sprout from Glass Symphony’s Miniature Creatures
Kyiv-based artist Nikita Drachuk (previously) is behind a delicate menagerie of translucent octopuses, striped spiders, and mottled slugs exquisitely crafted in glass. Elaborately shaped with curling tentacles and segmented legs, the miniature creatures are the product of lampworking, which involves melting the colorful material with a lamp or torch. Drachuk works under the moniker Glass Symphony and has hundreds of pieces available on Etsy.
Share this story
Hand-Blown Glass Vessels by Kiva Ford Are Exacting Miniatures of Scientific and Household Goods
Artist Kiva Ford (previously) spends his days shaping minuscule vessels for chemists, engineers, and physicists. He manages the custom scientific glass shop at the University of Notre Dame, where he’s tasked with creating unique instruments designed for specific research projects. The exacting quality of these pieces is reflected in all of his hand-blown works, which range from Klein bottles and flasks to vases, pitchers, and jars holding anatomical sculptures in miniature.
COVID-19 increased the demand for his wares, Ford tells Colossal, and he currently has a number of colorful pieces available on Etsy. On March 19, he’ll be hosting a demonstration of nesting a small vessel inside a larger, identical work at the International Flameworking Conference in New Jersey. You can also find videos and images documenting his process on Instagram.
Share this story
In ‘Glass Microbiology,’ Sculptures Explore the Science Behind Modeling Viruses and Bacteria
Digital models of bacteria and viruses are essential for scientists communicating vital health information to the broader public. Paired with news articles and government guidelines, the depictions offer powerful visuals for otherwise invisible harms, and although accurate in shape and structure, many renderings often feature colors chosen at the artist’s discretion—this includes the now-infamous depiction of the red, spiked SARS-CoV-2, which was named a Beazley Design of the Year.
Back in 2004, artist Luke Jerram began questioning the impact of this creative license, asking whether people believed that microbes are inherently vibrant and how exactly viewers are supposed to tell which renderings feature accurate colors and which are alterations. This interest sparked his ongoing Glass Microbiology project, which creates models of viruses like Zika, smallpox, and HIV as clear sculptures.
Created approximately 1 million times larger than the actual cells, Jerram’s works highlight the intricate and unique structures without obscuring a viewer’s impression based on color. He collaborates with virologists from the University of Bristol to ensure the form’s accuracy before being glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones, and Norman Veitch help mold the delicate shapes, starting with the coiled nucleic acid at the center and later the outer proteins. Together, they’ve created dozens of models so far, including the long, worm-like ebola and a T4 bacteriophage with a rectangular head and multiple legs.
“Of course, by making it in glass, you create something that’s incredibly beautiful. There’s a tension there, between the beauty of the object and what it represents,” the U.K.-based artist said in an interview. “By making the invisible visible, we’re able to feel like we have a better sense of control over it.”
Jerram’s microbes are on view in two exhibitions this month: as part of Hope from Chaos: Pandemic Reflections at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore and at Henry Moore Institute’s A State of Matter. Explore the vast collection and dive into the science behind the works on the Glass Microbiology site.
Share this story
Archeologists Unearth a Roman Glass Bowl Dating Back 2,000 Years in Pristine Condition
Sitting a few miles from the German border, Nijmegen is the oldest city in The Netherlands, and after a recent archeological dig, it’s also the site that unearthed a stunningly preserved bowl made of blue glass. The pristine finding, which is estimated to be about 2,000 years old, is from the agricultural Bataven settlement that once populated the region. Featuring diagonal ridges, the translucent vessel was made by pouring molten glass into a mold, sculpting the stripes while the material was liquid, and using metal oxide to produce the vibrant blue. Archeologists uncovered it without a single chip or crack.
Around the time the bowl was procured, Nijmegen was an early Roman military camp and later, the first to be named a municipium, or Roman city. Archeologist Pepjin van de Geer, who led the excavation, told the De Stentor that while it’s possible the vessel was created in a German glass workshop in cities like Cologne or Xanten, it’s also likely that the Batavians traded cattle hides to procure it. In addition to the piece, van de Geer’s team has also uncovered human bones, pitchers, cups, and other precious goods like jewelry, which indicates the site was once a burial ground. (via Hyperallergic)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.