Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Lifeforms' Glass Arts' Dazzling Details Capture Natural Beauty

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Lifeforms' Glass Arts' Dazzling Details Capture Natural Beauty

Article excerpt

An intricate glass coral reef inhabited by an octopus, two bright orange clownfish and other marine creatures sits in one corner of the Pittsburgh Glass Center Hodge Gallery.

This work, "Greater Blue-ringed Octopus on a Teeming Coral Reef" by Joe Peters of Battleboro, Mass., is among 50 glass artworks in the "Lifeforms" exhibition, which opens with a free public reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. The show features pieces that embody some type of life-form, from hibiscus and seahorses to microorganisms and fish skeletons. The submitted works came from across the globe, including from the United States, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Australia, England and Canada.

Robert Mickelsen, a glass artist who organized "Lifeforms," said it was exciting to see the project finally begin to unfold before his eyes.

"It's very gratifying to think of something in the abstract and then it's sitting in front of you," he said.

The inspiration for "Lifeforms" came from Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka's glass biological models made in the 19th and 20th centuries for Harvard University's museums. Mr. Mickelsen remembers visiting the Harvard Botanical Museum when it was displaying the Blaschkas' glass flowers. The experience had such an impact on him that he wanted to give today's artists the chance to create similar life-form art.

This exhibition's 50 works were selected from 102 submissions based on accuracy to the life-form being depicted, aesthetic beauty, presentation and originality. Trying to combine accuracy and originality especially can be a difficult task, said Heather McElwee, executive director of the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

Originally, organizers intended to display 40 works, but the quality of the art was so impressive that they decided to accommodate 10 more, Ms. McElwee said. Each of these pieces took hundreds of hours to complete, she added.

The extensive labor is evident in the detail in each piece. In "Eternal Bloom" by Carolyn Baum, a hibiscus has yellow leaves that seem to ripple in the breeze. …

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