Each week, we give you an update on what our object installation and Hot Glass Demo teams have been up to in the new Contemporary Art + Design Wing. With just four weeks before opening, both teams are going full throttle.
Liberated from harsh edges and flat walls, the new gallery spaces don’t allow for much casework—but the few that are being installed will make an impact. Similar to the 40-foot display case in the Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family Gallery of Contemporary Glass, the Nature Gallery will feature a 35-foot case to showcase some of the smaller objects that don’t need to stand on the floor.
“This case is sort of the little cousin of the case in the Heineman Gallery,” said Warren Bunn, collections and exhibitions manager. “Although, in this space it actually looks bigger than the other, but it’s five feet shorter.”
Objects in the case include When Lightning Blooms, by Ginny Ruffner, The Proof of Awareness, by Loretta Yang, and Host IX-Epidendrum, by Debora Moore, the 2007 Rakow Commission inspired by the work of the Blaschkas.
The works will have no shortage of light, both coming from the skylights above, and special LED lights fitted into the casework to offset any shadows cast from the skylights.
Although the objects are exquisite in the case once installation is complete, getting them in place takes a great deal of planning and teamwork.
“There’s not a lot of room to move,” Warren said, “so it’s challenging when you need to have four or five people pick up a piece and move it.” The team has been utilizing their tools for some of them, including a Genie Lift to get heavy objects at the right level, and carpet squares to position them in the case.
Lynx After a Sketchbook Page by Albercht Durer looks like it could be a dangerous piece to move, but luckily artist Marta Klonowska planned ahead.
“There’s a spot under the neck with a plug of broken glass that pulls out and allows you to insert a metal rod,” Warren said. “There are also two on the back, so when you pick it up, it looks like a wheelbarrow. Rarely do artists give us a tool to help install the work, but this one is so fragile and jagged, it would be hard to move otherwise.”
Unfortunately, because so many of the objects require a team to install them, there aren’t enough people available to take pictures of the installation of each piece. The team did, however, pause for a fun photo—or two—before installing any of the work this week.
Meanwhile in the Amphitheater Hot Shop, the team was learning to work with guest artists in the new space. Glass sculptor Raven Skyriver taught a class at The Studio last week, then stayed to demo on the Innovation Hot Shop at 2300°, and to try out the new equipment in the Amphitheater.
“He agreed to be our guinea pig for the Guest Artist Program,” said Eric Meek, manager of hot glass programs. “He’s helping us troubleshoot. I like working with him because he uses the whole shop—all the torches, the pickup box, everything.”
While he was here, Raven and the Museum gaffers made a large white whale—the first piece ever created by a visiting artist in the Amphitheater Hot Shop. The team also finished a seal and a salmon.