Primordial Shift is an installation dealing with the implications of genetic modification of corn. It consists of 32 hand-blown glass ears of corn averaging 4′ high suspended on stalks of cast bronze and blown glass, tethered with rope from the ceiling combined with audio and video projected as a backdrop to create an illusion of corn gently swaying in the field.
The creative force behind the project is Michael “Mick” Meilahn, who like others of his generation, learned glassmaking as a university student in Wisconsin in the 1970’s, and subsequently participated in the wave that became The American Studio Glass Movement. In the 20th Century, a paradigm shift occurred in genetics, when scientists discovered how to unravel genetic code; the genetic code itself, DNA; and the commodification of GMOs and implications for consumers. Meilahn’s installations are about the fragility of glass and genetic modification. They afford museum patrons the opportunity to experience the story of corn, its production, and agriculture from the perspective of this unique and amazingly talented and visionary artist. Furthermore, his work speaks to the importance indigenous peoples have played in cultivating corn, “… a symbol as sacred to Native Americans as the cross was to Christianity.”
Other works of Meilahn’s creation, including Bonanza Blue, a seven foot diameter basket featuring large ears of blue corn, are slated for inclusion in the Primordial Shift exhibition and serve to broaden the viewers’ understanding of the artist’s relationship with agriculture and the natural beauty associated with earth. Works selected for inclusion in the exhibition will be drawn from the artist’s personal collection, private lenders, and the permanent collection of Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass.
Thursday, August 18, 6:00 – 7:00 pm CT
Join artist, Mick Meilahn and museum staff as he presents his inspiration, concepts, and development of Primordial Shift, as well as select pieces within his retrospective exhibition. This event is FREE and open to the public.
About the Artist:
Michael “Mick” Meilahn grew up on a family farm near Pickett, in Central Wisconsin. After graduating in 1964 from high school in Ripon where he excelled in art, he entered the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to study agriculture. He subsequently switched his major to art, after he realized agri-business was not his passion. At UW-River Falls he took his first course in glass, and in 1966 he started blowing glass. As an undergraduate, Mick Meilahn spent a Quarter abroad working with glass legend Erwin Eisch in Frauenau, Germany (on the Bavaria/Czech border, an area with a rich tradition of glass making). After graduation in 1971, he spent a year in Bolivia as an idealistic Peace Corps volunteer intent on helping people in South America by sharing the knowledge he’d learned from farming. After that, he enrolled at Illinois State University in Normal, where Joel Philip Myers had begun a glass program, and earned his Master’s degree in art.
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass is grateful to David J. Wagner, L.L.C. for providing assistance with the display of Primordial Shift.
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass is excited to announce an exhibition of new acquisitions to the museum’s permanent collection. On from March 26th thru December 4th in the Museum’s Blue Gallery, this exhibition will highlight work by artists such as Howard Ben Tré, Kari Russell-Pool, Rick Ayotte, Lisabeth Sterling, Stephen Hodder, Audrey Handler, Richard Ritter, Klaus Moje, Marvin Lipofsky, Barry Sautner and Eric Hilton. This exhibition continues the museum’s tradition of celebrating the philanthropy of our generous donors. Through these gifts, we are able to continue engaging and educating our audiences about the exciting world of glass art.
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass is home to more than 5,000 examples of glass art, most of which are organized into one of four collections categories: paperweights, Germanic glass, Victorian glass, and contemporary studio glass. The vessels on exhibit in the Mabel R. McClanahan Memorial Study Gallery represent collections outside of the museum’s general scope and include works from designers such as Tiffany Studios (Queens, New York), Steuben (Corning, New York), Lalique (Paris, France), and Daum (Nancy, France).
These artworks most greatly differ from antique art glass in that they were generally hand-made in smaller quantities and without the use of molds, though some exceptions exist, such as the Lalique Ceylon vase. In fact, numerous qualities associated with art glass can be found in the baskets created during the late Victorian period (1870-1901), such as the wide color palette and opulent adornments. The innovations made during this era had a profound influence on glassmaking during the early 20th Century.
Many of the vessels included in this exhibition were created in the Art Nouveau style (1890-1910) and feature undulating, colorful forms created by applying metal oxides to the artwork while in the furnace. The iridescent Favrile glass developed by Louis Comfort Tiffany represents one particularly noteworthy innovation of the period, wherein the final color was not only a part of the surface, but embedded within the structure of the glass, itself. Other exhibited examples are more resplendent of the Art Deco period (1918-1939), in vogue during the time between the first and second World Wars. Art Deco glass is frequently characterized by bold colors, faunal motifs and geometric patterns such as the blue acid-etched vessel created by Daum Studios, the Acacia vase from Lalique, and the Stamford Vase designed by Frederick Carder (1863-1963) for Steuben.
Comprised of hundreds of objects fabricated using multiple glass processes, Between Seeing and Knowing is a large-scale, site-specific installation by artists Anna Boothe and Nancy Cohen. Created as part of a Collaborative Residency that took place at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass in 2012, the artwork has been exhibited at Accola Griefen Gallery, Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Philadelphia’s International Airport. The installation will be presented at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass from October 6, 2022 – February 5, 2023.
At its core, Between Seeing and Knowing is the result of both artists’ long-standing interest in and in-depth study of Tibetan Buddhist thangka paintings and the integration of their otherwise very separate studio practices. Thangkas are ordered cosmological paintings, often scrolls, created for the purpose of meditation and composed of numerous visual elements. This installation reinterprets the symbolism in the paintings to create new work that reflects the organizational structure and palette of the paintings, as well as the sense of expansiveness and lack of hard resolution characteristic of Buddhist ideology.
Overall, through this collaboration, its subject matter, and our chosen methodology, we seek to understand, both visually and viscerally, another cultural perspective or expression unlike our own, through our dissection and re-assemblage of elements unique to that culture. Just as collaboration brings forth the opportunity for a deep exchange of ideas and the development of sympathetic approaches to doing what one does, pragmatically and metaphorically, this is our attempt at bridging gaps between cultural approaches to explain the unexplainable.
On day one, the class will begin with a discussion in the gallery to create the foundation for this workshop. Similar to the artist’s approach, workshop participants will examine and respond to images of these paintings through drawing and collage. Day two will be studio-focused, where students will use a variety of techniques and approaches to translate these explorations into layered paintings in fused glass.
All Experience levels welcome
Anna Boothe and Nancy Cohen, Instructors