With An Eye To History
With An Eye To History
Wonder: 50 Years RISD Glass
Edited by Denise Markonish, Rachel Berwick, and Jocelyne Prince
Rhode Island School of Design and RISD Shortruns, $40
This October, Rhode Island School of Design wraps up its yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of its glass department with the publication of Wonder: 50 Years RISD Glass. As editors Denise Markonish and Rachel Berwick explain, “wonder” aptly describes how RISD glass artists approach their chosen material. For them, to work with glass is to experiment with awe. In the spirit of experimentation, the 225-page book is not a glossy “best of” retrospective. Instead, it’s an intriguing catalogue of the expanding potential of glass – in art as well as interior design, furniture, and architecture. Essays on five themes – “Wonder,” “Alchemy,” “Nature,” “Science,” and “Invisible/ Unseen” – are each accompanied by three artists’ projects (including work created for the book); the “Science” essay by Margaret Wertheim, for example, appears with the neon heart that artist Alex Rosenberg mounted in his apartment window, which – thanks to a sensor he wears – blinks through the night in time with his heartbeat. A conversation with Berwick, Prince, and writer Lawrence Weschler, and a section on the glass department’s history – with recollections from alums such as Dale Chihuly – round out this unique book, the pages of which are edged in the color of fire. ~Ellen Welty
Cast: Art and Objects Made Using Humanity’s Most Transformational Process
Jen Townsend and Renée Zettle-Sterling
Schiffer Publishing, $80
Cast is a love letter to a millennia-old process, often overlooked and little understood, but one that is all around us – in architecture, monumental statuary, weaponry, coins, keys, toys, cookware, and even the bathroom. Metalsmiths Jen Townsend and Renée Zettle-Sterling had planned to focus on jewelry but expanded their scope to fit the ubiquity of the method and the almost infinite options for materials – the traditional metal, clay, and glass, but also plastic, sugar, chocolate, and blood. The book traces the method’s history and clearly and concisely discusses the process for the casting-curious, ending with a useful glossary.
Artistic aspects get equal weight, with a look into 17 studios of artists who use casting in their work.
At 400-plus pages, it’s a hefty tome, but the 800 images, with examples from ancient to modern, balance the text, making for a delightfully informative reference on a method that retains both its earthbound function and alchemical magic. ~Judy Arginteanu
Glass: Masterworks from the Chrysler Museum of Art
Edited by Diane Wright
University of Washington Press, $60
If you haven’t made it to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, you’re in luck: Glass: Masterworks from the Chrysler Museum of Art, a handsome catalogue of 75 pieces from the extensive collection, is your surrogate tour guide. Flipping through its pages, you can witness trends and innovations throughout history – from an ancient Egyptian cast-glass eye that almost feels ripped from a midcentury studio to flashy Sicilian-ware vases that appear as modern today as when they were created more than a century ago. Even if glass isn’t your thing, a glimpse into the collection gives insight into popular cultural and social trends. Accessible text describes the objects, their makers, and the medium, from its origins through today. ~Megan Guerber