It’s the 50th anniversary of the studio glass movement in the United States. I love finding out things like that for some reason. It gets even more special to think that it pretty much began in Toledo, Ohio with three ceramics professors in a workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art.
To make the event even more appealing and interesting, the Akron Art Museum, a Knight Arts grantee, is working along with dozens of other Ohio museums and galleries to celebrate it. And, it is taking it one step further through its current and newest exhibit around two local glassmakers — Brent Kee Young and Sungsoo Kim — who are, the Museum notes, “at the forefront of contemporary glassmaking.” Their works will be on display through April 7.
The studio glass movement apparently was concerned with the creation of essentially non-functional sculptural pieces and thereby moved away from mass-produced decorative and useful glass vases and vessels that one might expect from factories. Instead, artists in the movement looked upon glass sculptures as independent artistic expression. They let their imagination reign.
Approaches to the art varied — from working glass at room temperature, through stained glass, bead making and glass blowing, to the technique used by Young and Kim — torch-flaming and cast kiln work.
Brent Kee Young, in his Matrix series, which the objects on view are from, reveals his interest in both ancient monuments and domestic items like vases and vessels. In fact, his “Vessel Form…Spheriod” is an artistic nod to functional items, like a large bowl (which it resembles), but one that could never be used in the manner that the inspirational work took.
The piece is constructed of leafy and incredibly thin curving lines of glass that make it look like computer circuitry.
His torch-flame technique also gives a very fragile look to his structures. It’s interesting just trying to figure out how the piece holds together without breaking and collapsing, like with his piece “Fertile Ground,” which essentially seems to be two sections, one being placed inside the other.
Sungsoo Kim reuses packaging material — Styrofoam — and creates unique forms from it. He assembles smaller sections of glass molded from identical shapes of Styrofoam and re-fires the work in a kiln.
Some of his works tend to look like towers, such as his “Rediscovery 110202″ and “Rediscovery 090101.”
There are also two larger works/installations in the gallery, like is “Rediscovery 2012-50-1,” which is a large system of small wall shelves — five across and 10 deep. All carvings on the shelves are shades of blue (from cobalt through aqua and paler), except for one bright red carving. Each piece, like in his other wall installation, is different in shape and often texture from all others.
“New Artifacts: Works by Brent Kee Young and Sungsoo Kim” will be on display Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (9 p.m. on Thursday) through April 7 at the Akron Art Museum, 1 S. High St., Akron; 330-376-9185; www.akronartmuseum.org. Admission is $7.