33rd Rakow Commission is unveiled this week; Artist reminds us to look for the sunshine

Japanese artist and educator Rui Sasaki was selected to create the Museum’s 33rd Rakow Commission, which will be featured as the 100th work in New Glass Now. Sasaki will visit CMoG to deliver a Behind the Glass lecture about her work on March 28 at 6:30 p.m., after which, her work will be unveiled.

“The Rakow Commission is designed to assist emerging artists in pushing their practice and Rui’s piece, Liquid Sunshine/I am a Pluviophile is an excellent example of the process at work, said Susie Silbert, curator of modern and contemporary glass at The Corning Museum of Glass. “I’m incredibly impressed by her ambitious approach to material and concept, which she has furthered to great effect in this piece.” 

Rui Sasaki. Image provided by the artist.

Rui Sasaki is an artist and educator from Japan who uses an array of materials, including resin, ice, light, performance, and especially glass, to highlight subtle aspects of everyday life. As an itinerant artist, pursuing opportunities around the globe, she has often created work that deals with the slipperiness of the concept of “home” and with the idea of creating spaces of belonging. Her more recent works address the weather, drawing viewers’ attention to the subtle qualities of sunshine and rain and the emotional states they provoke.

“I feel that weather really affects people emotionally and physically,” said Sasaki. “I’m very affected by weather. If it’s a sunny day, I want to be more active and I want to go outside. But rainstorms make me calm and relaxed. Since we don’t get much sunshine, even in summer, I’m more appreciative of subtle sunshine. That’s why I have a desire to keep and record sunshine—to show people that though we don’t get much, we still get sunshine even though you might not notice. I started using phosphorescent material because it’s very good at reacting to the weather.”

Liquid Sunshine / I am a Pluviophile, Rui Sasaki, Japan, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, 2018. Blown glass with phosphorescent material, broad spectrum UV lights, motion detector. 33rd Rakow Commission. Photo by Yasushi Ichikawa.

Sasaki’s Rakow Commission,Liquid Sunshine/I am a Pluviophile, distills her interest in weather. A room-size installation—11’ h x 14’ w x 12’ d—the work consists of more than 200 blown glass “raindrops,” each embedded with small dots of phosphorescent material that absorb simulated sunlight. Installed in a darkened room with broad spectrum lights regulated by a motion detector, the raindrops are charged only when the room is empty. As soon as a viewer approaches the piece, the lights turn off, leaving only the glowing outlines of the raindrops visible. Over time, the glowing phosphorescent glass dims, the way the memory of sunshine fades during the dark days of winter.

“I want the viewer to be the weather,” said Sasaki, of the influence visitors have on the motion-detected “false sun” in the space. “I am interested in not just making an installation, but also making it interactive. The work reacts to and is influenced by how long viewers have been in the space and by the frequency of their visits. The brightness of the work depends on the viewers. When people look at my work, they meditate because the phosphorescence fades away, and people are calmer in the dark. I want visitors to spend time with the work, because watching it fade out reminds us that even on rainy days, a little sunshine still comes through.”

About the Rakow Commission
Inaugurated in 1986, the Rakow Commission is awarded annually to artists whose work is not yet represented in the Museum’s collection. The commission supports new works of art in glass by encouraging emerging or established artists to venture into new areas that they might otherwise be unable to explore because of financial limitations. It is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr. and Mrs. Leonard S. Rakow, Fellows, friends, and benefactors of the Museum. Each commissioned work is added to the Museum’s permanent collection and is displayed publicly.

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