Don’t Hassle Me. I’m Local: From Real to Imaginary, New Glass Now Artists Explore the Idea of Place

Open until January 5, 2020, at The Corning Museum of Glass, the exhibition New Glass Now aims to teach visitors about the exciting field of contemporary glass. Through 100 works of art and design in glass, the exhibition is a snapshot of the wide-ranging themes, ideas, and techniques glass artists are engaging with today. A handful of these 100 artists carry this idea of capturing a moment in time one step further by evoking a specific time or place in their work. Whether the location is personally meaningful to the artist, or completely imaginary, many of the artworks in New Glass Now grapple with how to explore or capture a sense of place.

Miya Ando (United States, b. 1978), Kumo (Cloud) for Glass House (Shizen), Nature Series

In 2016, Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Caanan, Connecticut, commissioned internationally-renowned contemporary artist Miya Ando to develop an editioned sculpture to sell at their Design Shop. Ando, known for her watercolor-like paintings on sheets of aluminum, turned to the image of a fleeting cloud to capture the calm and contemplative environment of this icon of modern architecture. In her body of work, Ando often explores the Buddhist concepts of compassion, wisdom, and impermanence. The piece she created for the Glass House, titled Kumo (Cloud) for Glass House (Shizen), Nature Series, is a glass cube containing a laser-etched cloud. She photographed this cloud above the house during a visit. The piece contains a meditative environment, inviting the viewer to gaze inside.[1] Not only is Ando capturing the calm feeling of the Glass House in a portable object, but also the singular moment when the cloud floated overhead. Impermanence, another important concept to Buddhists, is a common thread that runs through Ando’s work. She uses transparency to embody this concept, most often using the medium of glass.[2]

Sarah Briland (United States, b. 1980), Problematica (Foam Rock)

A few artists in the exhibition capture time and place on a grander scale. Where? Earth. When? 2019. They are grappling with how people today are leaving their mark on the planet and posit that we will be remembered by what we leave behind. To glass artist Sarah Briland, the legacy of our contemporary culture will be our plastic garbage, preserved like fossils in the earth’s crust. Briland makes what she calls “future fossils,” creating what she imagines the people of the planet earth, thousands of years from now, will discover of today’s plastic-ridden lifestyle. Problematica (Foam Rock) is a sheet of plastic foam permeated with resin and glass microspheres to create a petrified artifact of our throw-away culture.

Dustin Yellin (United States, b. 1975), Cephaloproteus Riverhead (Four Hearts, Ten Brains, Blue Blood Drained through an Alembic)

In his series Psychogeographies, Dustin Yellin is also capturing in sculpture what he believes will be our legacy. His sculptures consist of applied paint and cut-out images from magazines and books sandwiched between stacked sheets of plate glass. These three-dimensional photomontages take the form of humanoid beings.[3] They are microcosms of earth with architecture standing in for bones, water for flesh, and the interstitial space filled with animals and objects.[4] The piece featured in New Glass Now, Cephaloproteus Riverhead (Four Hearts, Ten Brains, Blue Blood Drained through an Alembic), serves as a record of today through clippings of print media.[5] Yellin and Briland depict the present moment through the eyes of future humans, learning about the 2010s from our preserved trash and magazines.


Rather than considering how an imagined future people may learn of the past, Costa Rican artist Juli Bolaños-Durman commemorates a time and place that never existed. In her series Made-Up Museum of Artefacts, Bolaños-Durman considers the role of museums in housing the legacies of historical civilizations in its collections.[6] Inserting falsehoods disguised as the colorful costume from lesser-known cultures, Bolaños-Durman mocks the museum’s reputation as a teller of truth and keeper of history. Each headdress is made of found and blown glass which the artist then hand-cuts and assembles into three-dimensional collages.

Embodying a place or moment in time is a common theme in New Glass Now. But just as the exhibition shows the diversity of how glass artists are working with the medium, each artist has approached the idea in ways that are uniquely their own. 

[1] “Post-Minimalist Artist Miya Ando Honors Family History by Melding Steel and Meditation.” Art Daily. Accessed August 19, 2019.

[2] Martinique, Elena. “Miya Ando on Her Special Commission for the 2018 PULSE Miami Beach.” Wide Walls. November 2, 2019. Accessed August 19, 2019.

[3] “About.” Dustin Yellin. Accessed July 18, 2019.

[4] Correspondence with Dustin Yellin Studio. March 14, 2019.

[5] Yellin, Dustin. “A Journey Through the Mind of an Artist.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. October 2014.

[6] Bolaños-Durman, Juli. “Made Up Museum of Artifacts.” Juli Bolaños-Durman Studio.

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