The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass will unveil an eclectic mix of glasswork and paperweights on May 28. The collection of more than 100 pieces will showcase a variety of art styles and artists, but they all have one thing in common: Every piece is a donation to the museum.
“This exhibition New on View is really a celebration of the generosity of donors who have given to us over the past four years,” says Amy Moorefield, Bergstrom-Mahler executive director.
The project started as a way to give back to the community and their overwhelming support of the arts, including a special spotlight for long-term benefactors Gary and Marge McClanahan. “Now sadly, Marge passed away, but her husband Gary was so incredibly thoughtful and marshaled other collectors together and talked about how much he enjoyed his experiences with the museum.” After narrowing the selection to donations within the past three years, there were still 600 art donations from community members to sort through, says curator Casey Eichhorn.
“Obviously 600 is a massive number and it’s just not possible to exhibit all of them, so what we did is we looked through those pieces and looked for [works] that may have particular historical or artistic significance,” which brought the number down to over 100 pieces, Eichhorn says. The exhibit floor will be arranged by era as well as technique, from millefiori, flameworking and sulfide glasswork.
The result is a mix of glass sculptures and paperweights across historical and contemporary works alike, which Moorefield says will provide a good initiation into the history of glass sculping and the ways these pieces are made.
“It’s going to be eclectic in terms of the variety of media, and that’s important for us to be able to use these exhibitions to really talk to the community about how these magical things were created,” Moorefield says. “I think there’s a lot of mystery and magic around glassmaking.”
On the historical front, “One particular [artist] that comes to mind is Pietro Bigaglia,” Eichhorn says. “He worked in Murano, Italy, and was really one of the early paperweight makers.” Eichhorn also pointed out the work of David Graeber, a contemporary artist who makes “amazing botanical pieces” in his flame-worked paperweights.
“We have a [contemporary] piece by an artist, Susan Taylor Glasgow, and it’s a corset that’s made out of glass and it looks just like a fabric corset,” Moorefield says. “In the center of it there’s a little surprise with the little apple, so it references the story of Adam and Eve. It’s a very powerful piece.”
New on View runs on the exhibit floor through August 22.