Pratt Manhattan Gallery will present "Bright Future: New Designs in Glass," an exhibition of sculpture, tableware, and lighting designs by American and international artists and firms that explore issues of sustainability, the manipulation of light, and the contrast of ancient and modern influences in contemporary glass from February 10 through May 5 in New York.
The signature qualities of glass—its flexibility, clarity, complex cultural history and ability to magnify and direct light-—are all at play in the works exhibited.The exhibition, which is guest-curated by Sarah Archer, chief curator at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, will be celebrated with an opening reception on Thursday, February 9 from 6 to 8 PM. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public.
Clockwise from left: Branching Bubble Light by Lindsey Adelman; Girtab by Giovanni Moretti for Carlo Moretti; Maure de Venise table by Liana Yaroslavsky; Litracon by Aron Losonczi; Mesh Vases by Werner Aisslinger & CIAV Meisenthal; Basket Chandelier by Marco Dessi for J. & L. Lobmeyr; Z Table by Tom Patti (B.I.D. '67 and M.I.D. '69); and Plumen 001 energy-saving bulb by Samuel Wilkinson for Hulger. Photos by Andrew Penketh.
"Bright Future" is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the development of studio art glass in America. To celebrate this milestone and recognize the many talented glass artists in this country, more than 160 glass demonstrations, lectures, and exhibitions will take place in museums, galleries, art centers, universities, organizations, festivals, and other venues across the United States throughout 2012.
"Recent innovations have made it possible for glass to look and behave in unexpected ways," said Archer. "Each object in 'Bright Future' was selected because it demonstrates either a recent development in glass technology or a new twist on a recognizable and ancient technique such as casting or glassblowing. The exhibition will inspire viewers to look twice at an ancient material whose second life is still unfolding," she added.
Combining a traditional technique with a high-tech material, Werner Aislinger's Mesh Vases are created by blowing glass into a heat-resistant fiber mesh, leaving a distinctive pattern on the surface of the glass. New materials such as Litracon (concrete that is made transparent with the addition of glass), the touch-sensitive face of the iPhone, or the heat-sensitive and "switchable" glass that changes color or opacity when touched or turned on and off present designers and architects with intriguing solutions to design challenges and allow them to avoid the use of plastics or other unsustainable supplies.
Pratt Industrial Design alumnus Tom Patti (B.I.D. '67 and M.I.D. '69), Alison Berger, and Helen Lee harness the unique ability of glass to direct and amplify light, according to Archer. Their installations invite viewers to experience a real-time optical effect that cannot be replicated in a photograph. James Carpenter's plans for the proposed Moynihan Station in Manhattan demonstrate the use of glass as an architectural element capable of creating "light interactions" in interior public spaces.
Several of the designers featured in the exhibition mine glass's rich history and reinterpret the elaborate aesthetic of 17th- and 18th-century European glass. Liana Yaroslavsky's Maure de Venise coffee table encases a deep purple chandelier based on a fixture by Seguso inside a sleek, minimalist plexiglass shell. Similarly, Ingo Maurer's Luester light glows with 287 white LEDs arranged in the shape of a multi-tiered chandelier and sandwiched between two flat pieces of glass.