Finding Enlightenment

chulily chandelier 319x450 - Finding Enlightenmentchulily chandelier detail 350x450 - Finding EnlightenmentWhile in San Diego a couple weeks ago, I finally made it to the Mingei Museum which exhibits folk art, craft and design. The news of Mingei’s purchase of a number of polymer pieces a handful of years back was how I first learned about this little museum and I have been hoping to go there ever since. They did not have any polymer works out in the exhibitions when I was there but upon ascending the staircase to the upper floor, I was stopped in my tracks by a very unusual chandelier above me.

For those of you who have made it to one of the Chihuly installations popping up all over the globe these last few years, you may have already recognized the signature glass work of this master artist, Dale Chihuly. This ten-foot-tall, seven-foot-wide chandelier I saw hanging above me was a 2005 creation titled Enlightenment. The wall card for it said it has 498 pieces of clear, cream and gold blown glass.

It looks like the more opaque and colored glass was concentrated at the center so that the clear glass on the ends gives the illusion that the writhing mass is expanding, as if any solidity it has is turning to smoke, which was pretty fascinating to walk around.

The most intriguing thing to me was as beautiful as the glass work: the complex and beautifully textured shadow it cast. Just look at the wall to the right of it in the first image. The detail image shows just how complex the glass work is in each of the pieces that make up the chandelier. The detail image is where I thought some polymer inspiration might come from. A little work with pure translucent clay and veined with some tinted translucent, on a smaller scale of course, could render a similar feel, I’d think. It certainly did get me thinking.

If you have not had a chance to see these wonderful glass works of Chihuly, he certainly does have a lot of pieces installed in various places all over the world. You can see if there is an exhibition of a permanent collection or installation near you by going to his exhibition page.



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