Lifeforms 2016

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Lifeforms February 5 - May, 2016



Lifeforms February 5 - May, 2016

The Rudolph and Leopold Blaschka Glass Biological Model Exhibition www.glasslifeform.org www.pittsburghglasscenter.org


After a stunning and successful first run of Lifeforms in 2013, we’re doing it again. “Lifeforms 2016” is an exhibition of the best biological glass models made in the spirit of the famous 19th and 20th century models of invertebrates and plants made by the father and son team, Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka for the Harvard University’s Botanical Museum. Nearly 200 entries, almost double from the first year, were received from across the U.S. and from 15 countries for this juried exhibition. Only 55 select works of art are on view in the gallery including a variety of life forms from animals and insects to plants and microorganisms. The PGC exhibition includes contemporary flameworked models, cast impressions, and blown renditions. For more information and to view all of the submissions, visit www.glasslifeform.org. More About Lifeforms The “Lifeforms” exhibition was inspired by glass life forms made by a father and son team Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the late 19th century, the public was intrigued by the unique plants unearthed by explorers and by the oddities of the sea being discovered by the newly invented submarine and deep sea diving kit. The Blaschkas offered a glimpse into those unknown, exotic worlds with their amazingly precise and detailed glass models. Through the years the Blaschkas made over 10,000 glass models. For this exhibition at PGC, artists from around the world were invited to create their best biological models in spirit of the Blaschkas. Models had to be of a specific species and rendered as accurately as possible, but artistic presentation and creative contexts were encouraged. Only 55 works of art were selected for the exhibition out of nearly 200 submissions. An independent jury of four selected the artists based on accuracy, aesthetic beauty, presentation, and originality.


Robert Mickelsen, a Florida-based glass artist, conceived of the idea for the exhibition. He said that it was more than homage to the Blaschkas. It represents a logical progression from then to now, morphing biological models of the 19th century into inspired works of art of the 21st century. In 1886, George Lincoln Goodale commissioned Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf to make botanical models for the Harvard Botanical Museum. He chose the Blaschkas because they worked in glass. In the late-19th century, glass was the best material for the job. Other models of the times were made out of papier-mâchÊ or wax and did not stand the test of time. No other material could be molded and manipulated to render organic forms as beautifully and accurately nor relied upon to last as long as glass. Funded by Elizabeth C. Ware and her daughter Mary Lee Ware, the Blaschkas made more than 4,000 models of plants and flowers over the next several decades. Lifeforms 2016 is incredibly grateful to all our generous sponsors:



Lifeforms 2013 was a successful show, but also a tremendous amount of work. No plans were made to repeat the show until the Corning Museum of Glass announced plans to do an exhibition of the Blaschka’s marine models in the summer of 2016 that would be on display during the annual GAS conference in Corning in June. When Heather McElwee and I learned this, we only had to look at each other once. Lifeforms 2016 was on! We were determined to learn from the mistakes we made in 2013 so that the 2016 show would be even better. The biggest mistake then was mine - taking on too much of the work myself. This time, I delegated as much as possible leaving many time-consuming tasks to other volunteers. Jennifer Umphress designed the website. Sam Laffey did promotional graphic design and handled the social media accounts. Heather McElwee managed fundraising and grant writing. Marshall Hyde secured our Corning venue. A long list of dedicated people assisted with outreach, making sure that as many people as possible heard about the show. These included Eric Goldschmidt, Kathleen Elliot, Shane Fero, Lacey St. George, Scott Darlington, Sally Prasch, and Laura Donefer. The staff at Pittsburgh Glass Center worked tirelessly on handling and presenting the work. Finally, our generous sponsors gave us the means to put it all together. To all of these people, Lifeforms owes its profound gratitude. As a result of these combined efforts, we received 176 entries for a show with only 50 available spaces! Entries came in from all over the world. We received no less than 25 international entries from Russia, Italy, France, Japan, Israel, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Argentina, China, and Mexico. The overall quality of submissions was very high. It became our jurors’ worst nightmare. How on Earth can a jury select from such great entries? But select they did. The scoring was tough, and many results were heartbreaking, but we ended up with the best show we could ask for. To them, Lifeforms owes its sincere thanks. As was the case in 2013, Lifeforms 2016 takes the original premise of the Blaschka glass models and expands it creatively. Artists were challenged to create “models” of certain species and to present them in original and artistic ways. This approach means that, while there are a few attempts to create models of the quality of the Blaschkas, most of the entries are imaginative and inspirational interpretations of the chosen life form. So enjoy the show! Revel in the creativity and imagination inspired by the Blaschkas in contemporary artists several generations later. There is no telling when or if there will be another Lifeforms!

Robert Mickelsen 12/31/2015


Amber Cowan Individual Artist Juror, Lifeforms


For as long as I have been interested in glass I have been fascinated by the work and life of Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka. Their work transcends glass, art, and biology and is in a category of pure mysticism. I have spent hours staring at their models at The Corning Museum of Glass and every time I walk away with a new question and a new answer. They did not think of themselves as “artists� but as technicians. But when their work comes together it is anything but a feat of pure technical achievement. They embedded each piece with a spirit that lives on through generations. Every semester I give a lecture to the new students about the Blaschkas so that they can understand that our recent achievements in flameworking have a rich history and that the work of the Blaschkas is unparalleled today even with the advancements in equipment and color. The Blaschkas were savants, geniuses, and artists beyond their time. I am honored to have been selected as a juror for the Lifeforms show. It was tough to judge because the quality of work was outstanding. But, I believe this exhibition honors the essence of the Blaschkas and is a testament to their spirit.


David Francis

Public Art Coordinator, City of Shoreline Juror, Lifeforms


Similitude can be tricky to assess, even more so with the Blaschka models as a baseline, with their detailed and “curious fusion of craft and science,” as William Warmus aptly describes them, celebrating the way they “exist between” categories of objects with “a kind of…independence.” Every single entry captured this beautiful ambiguity, and many of my favorites are represented in the virtual collection rather than the batch of final selections. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet advises a troupe of actors, “o’erstep not the modesty of nature” (my emphasis) but strive instead to “hold…the mirror up.” Although (as we have come to suspect in our new century) the result is not a copy or simulacrum but – in the final creative crucible of art – an entity entirely its own.


Heather McElwee

Executive Director, Pittsburgh Glass Center Juror, Lifeforms


It was an honor to be able to serve as a juror for Lifeforms 2016. The work in the first Lifeforms exhibition was outstanding and the entries this year were even better. It was great to see both returning artists and new artists in the final exhibition. There were so many deserving entrants it was hard to narrow them down to the ones that were going to be included in the live show. I knew there were going to be pieces that I loved that didn’t make the cut, and that was hard. All I could do was try to be impartial and judge the work purely on the four criteria laid out -accuracy in representing the organism, aesthetic beauty, presentation, and originality. One piece that I find outstanding in all four categories is Silvia Tabasso’s still life. The decaying flowers are beautifully represented, but also have a slightly macabre feeling and are clearly mementos mori with the artists nod to the 17th century still life with her title “Vanitas,” Latin for vanity. In total the variety, originality, and execution of the pieces selected for the live show is outstanding.


Robert Mickelsen Individual Artist Juror, Lifeforms


Presented with 176 entries, most of which were very high quality, and tasked with culling this number down to 55, the decisions of the five jurors were certain to leave some truly outstanding work out of the live show. Although every single work that made the cut is fantastic, I cannot resist singling out a few. Kimiake Higuchi’s mind-bending “Vessel From The Garden,” Evan Kolker’s life-like “Nepenthes Bicalcarata,” Marc Petrovic’s lyrical “Bluebirds and Cowbirds,” John Sharvin’s noble “English Walnut,” Lisa Demagall’s shimmering “Radiolaria,” and Linda Ethier’s mysterious “Seed of Departure” are among my favorites of the selected works. But I strongly encourage people to peruse the online gallery as well, where every entry is shown. Of those that were not included in the live show I am compelled to recognize Tim Lindemann’s lifelike “Maine Lobster,” Ellen Abbott’s painterly Pate de verre “Anemone,” Jacci Delaney’s curious “Fossilizations,” Lisabeth Sterling’s lovely cameo “Lightening Whelk,” Margaret Neher’s exquisite “Cattleya,” Carmen Lozar’s thought-provoking “Domesticated Goat,” and Robin Roger’s enigmatic “Arctic Hare,” as among the outstanding entries that I wish could have been included but for lack of space.


Kait Rhoads Individual Artist Juror, Lifeforms


It was an honor to help jury this show as I have a passion for natural history museums and well remember my first Blaschka experience at Harvard’s Peabody Museum. The pieces that I appreciated there most were the examples of fruit diseases and the Blaschka’s ability to render the grotesque so elegantly. There was high technical proficiency exhibited in most of the submissions for consideration for Lifeforms 2016. With my votes, I gave elevated ratings for originality in combination with high ability. There were so many perfect pieces of life mimicry, but the artwork that I would like to mention here tickled my scientific/aquaphile/funny bone and pricked my sense of dark humor. Of the pieces that are in the formal exhibition I was attracted to a few in particular: “Vanitas” by Silvia Tabasso, “Bulrush Slide Box” by Elin Christopherson, “English Walnut Seed” by John Sharvin, “The Future is Coming” by Jeremy Sinkus, and “Veronica Longifolia” by Wesley Fleming. As jurors, we were fortunate to have so many entries to choose from. I would like to encourage viewing all of the participants work, especially those not in the live exhibition. A few that spoke to me strongly: Jennifer Crescuillo’s “Box Turtle,” “Celery Brooch” by Donald Friedlich, Jane Hartman’s “Planarian Flatworm,” and “Black Urchin” by Brook Drabot.


Selected Artists


Christopher Ahalt White Rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum Sculpted glass, copper, lead


Carolyn Baum One Night Stand Echinopsis scoullar Lampworked glass, copper


Carina Cheung Common Wheat Triticum aestivum Flameworked glass


Elin Christopherson Bulrush Slide Box Schoenoplectus californicus Enameled glass


Mark Clarson Untitled A. mississippiensis and Oryctolagus cuniculus Cast glass, silver leaf


Lisa Demagall Radiolaria Actinomma drymodes (Sphaeroidae) Flameworked glass


Bandhu Dunham Deep Sea Angler Fish Melanocetus johnsonii Lampworked, sandblasted glass with UV-reactive features


Kathleen Elliot Autumn Lantern Pods Koelreuteria paniculata Flameworked borosilicate glass


Rachel Mary Elliott Half & Half Dactylioceras commune P창te de verre


Linda Ethier Seed of Departure Acer, Quercus P창te de verre


Shane Fero Winter White Redpolls Acanthis flammea Flameworked, etched glass, found object


Wesley Fleming Speedwell Veronica longifolia Flameworked glass


Erin and Grant Garmezy Desert Blossom Bos taurus, sempervivum faramir, echeveria elegans Sculpted glass, electroplated copper


Sarah Gilbert Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis Blown, engraved glass


Sarah “Sarita� Hancock El Ciclo de la Vida Lilium asiatic Flameworked glass, birch, deer antlers


Laura Hart Spanish Moon Moth Graellsia isabellae Fused, cast glass, sterling silver


Bronwen Heilman The Lovely Nepenthes sumagaya Flameworked glass


Kimiake Higuchi Vessel from the Garden Myosotis sylvatica P창te de verre


Alli Hoag The Lepidopterist’s Conundrum Antheraea plyphemus, Smerinthus ocellata, Catcall fraxini Cast glass


Jason Howard Wisteria Recycling Ewer Wisteria sinensis Blown, sculpted glass


Elizabeth Johnson Rainier Cherries Prunus avium “Rainier� Lampworked glass, copper wire, ceramic


Theo Keller Red Spruce Picea rubens Flameworked glass, glass powder


John Kobuki American Beauty Rose Rosa “American Beauty� Lampworked borosilicate glass


Evan Kolker N. Bicalcarata et M. Nepenthicola – somia simul. Nepenthes bicalcarata, Misumenops nepenthicola Glass, steel, silver, oil paint, flocking


Sara Sally LaGrand Culling Cucurbita muschata Flameworked glass


Alicia Lomne Blooming Sleep, with Turkey Tail Trametes versicolor P창te de verre


Michael Mangiafico and Ed Pinto Tears of the Sun God Apis mellifera Flameworked, kilnformed glass, wood


Joanna Manousis Inverted Vanitas Punica grantatum Blown, flameworked, p창te de verre glass, mixed media


Brandon Martin Axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum, Vallisneria Americana, Nymphoides aquatic Lampworked glass, river rock, resin, wood, copper


Sam McMillen Cupped Up Anas platyrhynchos Solid sculpted glass


Amie McNeel OctoOptic Octopoda Blown glass, aluminum


Robert Mickelsen (Juror) Crystal Jellyfish Aequorea victoria Flameworked glass


Anthony Milewski and Suuze Tipton Magic Mushrooms Psilocybe cubensis Blown, sculpted glass, cherry wood


Jeff Newman The Feminine Dopamine, serotonin, acetylycholine, gaba, glutamate, norepinephrine Lampworked glass


Jupiter Nielsen and Nathan Belmont ‘I’iwi in Haleakala Sandalwood Drepanis coccinea, Santalum haleakalae var. haleakae Flameworked glass


Kelly O’Dell Hope Ceratotherium simum cottoni Blown, sculpted glass


Marc Petrovic Bluebirds and Cowbirds Sialia silais and Molonthrus Blown, sculpted glass


Sally Prasch Nymphaea Nymphaea Flameworked glass, painted quartz wool, wood, paper


Kait Rhoads (Juror) and Jennifer Umphress He’e on Coral Octopus cyanea, Diploria labyrinthiformis Flameworked, blown, cut, polished glass, copper wire


Colin Richardson Untitled Oncidium varicosum II Lampworked glass


Kari Russell-Pool Metaphorical Me Passerina ciris Flameworked glass


Kumiko Sano Suzumushi Cricket Homoeogryllus japonicas Flameworked glass


John Sharvin English Walnut Seed Juglans regia Blown, cast glass, walnut, metal


Jeremy Sinkus The Future is Coming Homarus americanus Blown, sculpted glass


Raven Skyriver Bask Iguana iguana Solid sculpted glass


Paul Stankard Meditation: Healing Virtues of the Plant Kingdom Apis Flameworked glass


Lacey St. George and Michael Svenson Colorado Columbines Aquilegia caerulea Flameworked glass


Silvia Tabasso Vanitas Cosmos, Chrysantemum, Eucharis Lampworked glass, wire


Victor Trabucco Hawthorn Berries Crataegus monogyna Lampworked, fused, laminated glass


Beau Tsai Panther Chameleon Furcifer pardalis Flameworked glass


Mauro Vianello Snails Cornu aspersum, Helix pomatia Flameworked glass, wood


Filip Vogelpohl Mint Mentha arvensis Flameworked borosilicate glass


Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen India Blue Peacock Pavo cristatus Blown, sculpted glass, powder drawings


Emily Williams Long Tentacle Plate Coral Heliofungia actiniformis Flameworked borosilicate glass


Lisa Zerkowitz Spring Paeonia and Prunus serrulata P창te de verre





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