On Saturday, October 26, the Parrish Art Museum on Long Island opened Mary Queen of the Universe, an exhibition of works by designers and brothers Steven and William Ladd.
The museum describes Steven and William as having “a concentrated—almost obsessive—fascination with materials and process,” which is why it has been such a pleasure to work with the Ladds at various GlassLab sessions throughout the last six years, making Bug Bombs, dynamite, and other objects of destruction as well as glass ants. Last fall, in GlassLab sessions at the Musee des arts decoratifs, we worked with the pair to make lots of beads for a tall beaded tree.
The exhibition at the Parrish features 24 sculptures. The central core of the exhibition is a series of 12 large sculptures, each consisting of 24 handmade boxes, installed on the walls in their own individual grids. These “landscapes” reveal densely packed, complex visual information couched in the language of beauty and obsession.
Color and title provide additional insight into the work. According to Steven Ladd, “Each color triggers a story.” The stories are of typical, everyday childhood experiences that have universal resonance, made compelling through the creative dexterity of the artists’ hands.
The most elaborate work in the show, and in the Ladds’ oeuvre to date, is Faith (2014), a dark sculpture with elements that refer to a mysterious creek, dense trees in verdant hills, an infestation of ants, and flames—a reference to Christian symbolism.
The flames, which are described in the exhibit label as “the most mysterious element” of the piece, were handcrafted for the work by our Museum’s GlassLab team. The brothers say the flames represent the Holy Spirit. “Faith and the Catholic Church are a big part of our story.”
The exhibit is on view at the Parrish Art Museum through January 19, 2015.