Upside down | Krannert celebrates the art of glass during the International Year of Glass | Parks-Leisure


The General Council of the United Nations has designated 2022 as the International Year of Glass to recognize the essential role glass plays in society, including pioneering advances in telecommunications, clean energy, medicine and optics.

This year also aims to draw attention to the long history of glass in civilizations around the world and to the inventiveness of glass artists today.

The Krannert Museum of Art has excellent collections of glass, ranging from ancient Mediterranean examples to beadwork from around the world to contemporary works, derived from the studio glass movement that emerged in the late 1900s. 1950s.

Recently I added some new works to our decorative arts gallery to celebrate the Year of Glass.

While glass is always shown there, with this installation, I wanted to highlight the diversity of the artists in the collection.

Often modern and contemporary glass stories have centered male voices.

For this reason, I pulled out cups of Flora Mace.

A graduate of the old Illinois glassware program, Mace was a trailblazer.

She was one of the few women in the 1970s to work in blown glass, then seen as a male job, in part because of the physical demands of glassblowing.

Many contemporary glass artists take a functional form and turn it into a sculpture.

Paul J. Nelson (MFA ’97) slyly crafted a piece of art in the form of a teapot, which I set up next to ceramic teapots from the 1800s.

Nelson’s carving overrides any possible use, highlighted by the flame-shaped handle, which suggests that it’s better to step back and admire the craft than even think of picking it up.

It comes from the important glass collection formed by Jon and Judith Liebman.

An absolutely stunning work by Japanese glassmaker Kyohei Fujita, #12 Casket, Spring Blossoms, has come out of storage.

I placed it between our magnificent collection of Asian ceramics and contemporary glass, to emphasize how much his work jumps the boundaries of time, medium and geography.

Fujita evokes a Japanese lacquer technique from the 1600s called maki-e which involves painting a design in lacquer and then sprinkling or inlaying metal on the surface.

Finally, two contemporary works by Preston Singletary are presented, a gift to KAM by Len Lewicki, including a breathtaking basket in blown and sandblasted glass.

Singletary drew inspiration from his Tlingit (First Nations of Canada) heritage to create contemporary glass inspired by historic Indigenous forms.

However, rather than simply recreating a basket of Tlingit spruce roots, it creates a new shape by way of adaptation.

Its translucency gives the impression of glowing from within, and the gray lip seems to hover radiantly above the basket, creating a stunningly luminous work of art.

Jon L. Seydl is director of the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign.


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