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Art

Surreal Sculptures of Translucent Glass and Clay Explore the Body’s Transformative Processes

December 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Mother and Child” (2020), cast glass, ceramic, and oil paints, 18 x 27 x 7 inches. All images © Christina Bothwell, shared with permission

“I have always viewed the body as a transitory object,” writes artist Christina Bothwell. From human-animal hybrids to pregnant creatures to figures fused together, Bothwell’s oeuvre suspends various life forms in states of flux: a baby precariously rests on a mother’s back, a young girl grasps onto another’s legs, and others peer into the distance as if they’re about to move forward.

The artist’s subject matter is rooted in the ethereal and embodies the delicate ways spirits and physical figures change over time. Her process, however, mirrors that focus on transformation. From her studio in rural Pennsylvania, Bothwell begins each multi-media piece with a sketch before translating the head into a clay form. To create the weathered appearance, she utilizes pit firing, which involves covering the sculpture with hay or leaves and burning them. The smoke from the fire leaves behind a carbon residue on the clay.

When working with glass, Bothwell sculpts warm beeswax that she uses to cast a plaster-and-silica mold. She then fills the empty shape with chunks of colored glass, which are placed in a kiln for annealing, cooled in cold water, and finally sanded and chiseled down. Hand-painted details adorn the sculpture’s exterior, along with found objects like antique prosthetic eyes, deer antlers, and ball feet.

 

“Soul Sentinel” (2017), cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and antique wood doll puppet hands, 21 inches

The result of this months-long technique is a surreal collection that merges the organic forms and processes of nature with uncanny details. Each lusterless piece explores the relationship between the alluring oddities of the exterior and the translucent insides, which Bothwell explains:

Changing the body is merely adjusting the outer wrapping, as far as I can see… I am intrigued with the spirit world, and I imagine that we pass in and out of it, into the physical realm with bodies, then out of it at the end of life into lighter, energy bodies… And along the way throughout our lives, we transform ourselves constantly, reinventing who we are on a daily basis.

Bothwell will be featured in an upcoming episode of PBS’s Craft in America airing on December 11. Until then, follow her unearthly projects on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

“Octopus Girl,” cast glass and ceramic, 33 inches

“Pink Monkey” (2020), cast glass and ceramic, 15 inches

“Butterfly Poodle” (2015-2019), cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and antique claw ball feet

Left: “Strawberry Gardens” (2020), cast glass, ceramic, and oil paint, 22 inches

Top right: “Deer Bunny,” cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and deer antlers, 27 inches. Bottom left: “My Second Self” (2013), cast glass, ceramic, and found objects (antique doll hands). Bottom right: “Mermaid” (2009), cast glass and antique prosthetic glass eye

“Such Reveries” (2017), cast glass, ceramic, and antique claw ball feet, 22 inches

 

 



Design History

A Glass Floor in a New Dublin Grocery Opens a Window to Medieval Viking History

October 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Embedded in the architecture of a new Lidl store in Dublin is a glass floor that allows shoppers to peer down into medieval history. During the supermarket’s construction, archaeologists discovered a 1,000-year-old home of Hiberno-Norse Dubliners, who were ancestors to the Vikings, in addition to a 13th-century wine jug and the below-stage trap of the former Aungier Street Theatre. Rather than excavate the items and build on top of the site, covering the ruins, the store installed glass flooring that provides shoppers with a literal window into local history. (via Twisted Sifter)

 

 

 



Art

Lustrous Strips of Glass Bisect Debris, Bricks, and Semi-Precious Stones in Ramon Todo’s Sculptures

October 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Debris” (2016), debris and layered glass. All images courtesy of Art Front Gallery, © Keiso Kioku, shared with permission

Between gnarly chunks of concrete, basalt pillars, and smooth rounds of lapis lazuli, Ramon Todo (previously) positions sleek segments of layered glass. The Tokyo-born artist splices fragments of found objects that otherwise would be regarded as refuse, like a crumbling brick from Iizuka City or coal waste, to repurpose the existing material with a lustrous embellishment.

Whether volcanic rock or chunks of demolished architecture, the resulting juxtapositions carry the original history, although they’re presented anew. “The characteristics of the place. The uniqueness of the place. Like the memories of the place and time,” the artist says in an interview about a recent solo show at Art Front Gallery in Tokyo. “I use the rocks, debris, Bota (stone similar to coal) for my works believing they have such memories inside. I used the glasses as material in the middle to peek into the time and the history of inside the rocks.”

Find more of Todo’s textured sculptures on Artsy, and see where his work is headed next on Art Front’s site.

 

(2015), basalt and glass

(2015), basalt and glass

“Debris 267703” (2016), debris and glass, 23 4/5 × 7 7/10 × 5 3/5 inches

Top: “Debris – 267411” (2014), debris and glass, 8 1/10 × 23 3/5 × 7 1/10 inches. Left: “o.T-GS” (2018) stone and layered glass, 11 × 16 1/2 × 8 3/10 inches. Right: “o.T. -dtk267801″ (2016), stone from Datekan and glass, 7 1/5 × 7 1/5 × 7 inches

(2015), basalt and glass

“Afghanistan” (2017), Lapis lazuli and glass, 7/10 × 2 1/2 × 1 3/5 inches

“Chikuho Coal waste #15” (2020), coal waste from Chikuho and glass, 12 3/5 × 12 1/10 × 5 3/5 inches

“Chikuho Red Brick” (2020), brick pieces collected from Iizuka City and glass, 7 1/5 × 4 2/5 × 2 2/5 inches

 

 



Design

The World’s Longest Glass-Bottom Bridge Stretches Across the Lianjiang River in China

September 4, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University

Extending 526.14 meters, a new glass-bottom bridge in China’s Huangchuan Three Gorges Scenic Area now ranks as the longest in the world. The lengthy structure is the project of the firm Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University and looms 201 meters above the Lianjiang River. Bright red towers mark either end, with an 8.8-meter-wide deck running between them. Three layers of 4.5-centimeter-thick glass lined with steel compose the transparent bridge, which is suspended with cables and can hold 500 people. According to Dezeen, the previous record-holder was a wobbly 488-meter structure in China’s Hebei province.

 

 

 



Art

Translucent Sculptures of Segmented Glass by Artist Jiyong Lee Evoke Single-Celled Organisms

September 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Green Cosmarium Segmentation” (2018), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 7 1/4 × 10 × 7 1/4 inches. All images © Jiyong Lee, shared with permission

Fascinated by the organisms found in the sea and bodies of freshwater, artist Jiyong Lee (previously) sculpts semi-transparent artworks that evoke the various forms of algae and other microscopic creatures. The segmented pieces, which are composed of smooth, matte glass, create both organic and geometric shapes. Part of an ongoing Segmentation Series, the composite works consider the evolution of a single cell, which Lee expands on:

I work with glass that has transparency and translucency, two qualities that serve as perfect metaphors for what is known and unknown about life science. The segmented, geometrical forms of my work represent cells, embryos, biological and molecular structures—each symbolizing the building blocks of life as well as the starting point of life.

Lee is based in Carbondale, Illinois, where he teaches at Southern Illinois University, and many of the pieces shown here will be part of a group show at Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis from September 12 to October 17, 2020. The artist also was chosen as one of 30 artists for the Loewe Foundation’s Craft Prize, which will bring him to Paris for an exhibition in the spring of 2021. Until then, explore more of Lee’s biology-informed sculptures on Artsy.

 

“Mitosis” (2010), cut, color (white) laminated, carved glass, 8.6 x 13 x 14 inches

“Diatom segmentation” (2019), cut, color laminated, carved, hot formed glass, 7 x 10 x 7 inches

“Black and White Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 8 × 12 × 8 inches

Left: “Gray Diatom Segmentation” (2018), cut, color laminated, carved glass, 5 1/4 × 12 1/2 inches. Right: “Yellow Orange Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 7 1/2 x 10 x 8 1/2 inches

“Green Yellow Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 5 3/4 × 12 × 12 inches

“White Green Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 8 1/2 × 10 × 8 1/2 inches

 

 



Art

Suspended Orbs, Webs, and Air Plants Imagine an Alternative Ecological Future by Artist Tomás Saraceno

September 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Thermodynamic Constellation.” All images © Tomás Saraceno, courtesy of Palazzo Strozzi by Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio, shared with permission

Three reflective spheres hover above the courtyard of Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi in Tomás Saraceno’s immersive installation.  The metallic orbs mirror the historic Renaissance architecture in addition to visitors who pass by, while marking the entrance to the imagined space that explores life beyond anthropocentrism. As its name suggests, Aria is concerned with air, encompassing human travel, its ability to foster growth, and how it’s entwined with every living organism.

The Argentinian artist (previously) is known for his large-scale works that fall at the intersection of science and art and consider the human toll on the natural world. Throughout Aria are various experiences dealing with contemporary environmental issues: Glass forms hang from the ceiling and house Tillandsia plants, which need only air to survive, while “A Thermodynamic Imaginary” considers the immensity of the sun and its unused potential.

Each of the works also references one of Saraceno’s 33 arachnomancy cards that explore ecological interconnectivity. References to arachnids manifest in the complex systems that hold Weaire–Phelan structures in “Connectome” or in the stark “Aerographies,” a series of clear balloons and framed networks that explore how “the movements of people, heat, animals, and spider/webs affect and are affected by the air,” a statement from Saraceno says.

Ecosystems have to be thought of as webs of interactions, within which each living being’s ecology co‐evolves, together with those of others. By focusing less on individuals and more on reciprocal relationships, we might think beyond what means are necessary to control our environments and more on the shared formation of our quotidian.

If you’re in Florence, stop by the Palazzo Strozzi to see Saraceno’s work before it closes on November 1, 2020. Otherwise, find out more about what he has planned for the rest of the year, which includes a new solar-powered balloon, on his site and Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

“Thermodynamic Constellation”

“Flying Gardens,” (2020), Tillandsia plants and hand-blown glass

“Thermodynamic Constellation”

“Thermodynamic Constellation”

“Aerographies,” by Studio Tomás Saraceno

“Connectome”

“A Thermodynamic Imaginary”