Working PointContemporary Glass from the MFA Collection

October 3, 2020 through May 23, 2021

Ann Robinson, New Zealander, b. 1944, Flax Pod (detail), Kiln-cast lead crystal, Gift of Janet and Robert Stoffels in honor of the Museum’s 50th Anniversary and in honor of Dr. Jennifer Hardin

 

Few artistic mediums go through such radical transformations as glass. It is created by melting base materials, shaping this mass with heat, air, and touch, and slowly cooling it into a form. The physical properties of glass inherently allow for endless intersections of form and light. A highly technical practice, glass making relies on a profound understanding of the material’s viscosity; glass is ready to be formed only when it reaches its working point.

This exhibition features contemporary glass from the Museum’s collection in a range of techniques that include cast and blown processes—as well as the practice of adding other materials into glass. For instance, both Michael Glancy (American, b. 1950) and Richard Ritter (American, b. 1940) incorporate copper in their glass sculptures. For Glancy, influenced by microscopic, organic forms, this melding of glass and metal becomes “damn near alive. They are living things … changing with the environment.” Artists Ann Robinson (New Zealander, b. 1944), and Sally Rogers (American, b. 1960) address natural forms in their work. Robinson creates abstract cast glass sculptures of flora from her native New Zealand, while Rogers uses caning techniques to create multiple layers of color referencing geological imagery.

Also featured in Working Point is Blue Float by the glass pioneer Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941). From his Nijima series, the sheer size of the piece tested the very limits of glass blowing. Also included is the work of Joey Kirkpatrick (American, b. 1952) and Flora Mace (American, b. 1949), who use glassblowing techniques and intricate caning to create oversized fruit sculptures that reference the still life tradition. In contrast, there is Clay Luna Anaranjada (2003), a large-scale glass sculpture by Therman Statom (American, b. 1953) that exhibits his unique multimedia approach that incorporates painting, drawing, and glass in varied forms.

Working Point is a wonderful opportunity to focus upon the Museum of Fine Arts’ fine collection of contemporary glass—and to celebrate the way these artists manipulate this remarkably malleable, and yet fragile, material into extraordinary creations filled with light.