Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wonder - Exhibit at Renwick Gallery, Part II

One of the captivating things about the Wonder exhibit was its diversity. Strolling from one room to another, I was continually surprised by the materials used and the end result.

Have you ever considered using shredded tires to create art? I hadn't, yet the artist Chakaia Booker did precisely that.

Another fascinating material used - this by Jennifer Angus - and for an incredibly impressive effect: insects!
Yes, an entire pink room full of bugs!

A simpler material - small wood pieces - was utilized by John Grade to create this enormous tree trunk, which was suspended from the ceiling.
View of the trunk's inside.
The artist Maya Lin, best known for her very early career design of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, used glass marbles to create the Chesapeake Bay in her piece "Folding the Chesapeake."
The largest gallery holds yet another artwork which mimics nature, yet this in a truly surprising way. Walking into the gallery in which Janet Echelman's "1.8" is suspended from the ceiling, I immediately marveled at the beautiful colors and shape, as well as the fact that a number of gallery visitors were sitting underneath it on the carpet, beanbag chairs, and loveseats. 

My next surprise came when I read the sign describing this piece. Again, best to leave it up to the experts: Echelman’s woven sculpture corresponds to a map of the energy released across the Pacific Ocean during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, one of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history. The event was so powerful it shifted the earth on its axis and shortened the day, March 11, 2011, by 1.8 millionths of a second, lending this work its title. Waves taller than the 100-foot length of this gallery ravaged the east coast of Japan, reminding us that what is wondrous can equally be dangerous. (Source: here.)
I lingered for a while, but promised myself I would return in the coming months. On YouTube I discovered a great video - seemingly posted by the artist herself - of the piece and how its colors change.

While walking through the galleries on the museum's second floor, I had also noticed a sizable glass artwork suspended from the ceiling. I took a photo, looked on the walls to find identification, but did not spot any. Later I tweeted the photo at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, asking if it was a Chihuly. Imagine my surprise when a short while later the artist's studio responded that it is indeed a piece by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, and that it's called "Slate Green & Amber Tipped Chandelier", and was donated to the museum by Barbara Lee Diamonstein-Spielvogel.


  1. Now that's a Chihuly! Still not sure what I think about our pink rock candy sculpture...


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