The Corning Museum of Glass has unveiled Stacked Grid Structure, this year’s Rakow Commission by Brooklyn-based American artist Thaddeus Wolfe.
Wolfe creates multi-layered, highly-textured, angular mold-blown vessels, sculptures, and lighting fixtures. Stacked Grid Structure, like Wolfe’s other objects, was made by blowing glass into a one-time-use plaster silica mold cast over a carved Styrofoam positive. Creating his molds in this way enables Wolfe to force the material into structures that are at odds with the fluid nature of molten glass.
“Stacked Grid Structure is the perfect artifact of its time,” said Susie Silbert, curator of modern and contemporary glass. “A bold and inventively made object, it bridges craft, design, and art in its production, conception, and ambition, exemplifying the blurred boundaries that make contemporary glass such an exciting field today.”
Wolfe used the opportunity of the Rakow Commission to experiment with adding bronze inclusions into his objects, a technique he hopes to continue in his future work. In Stacked Grid Structure, he uses these inclusions as stilts, raising the piece off of the pedestal and visually connecting its two component parts. Connected in this way, these bronze feet give the piece an architectonic feeling, one which the artist says was inspired by his life in New York City, and the time he spends looking at the buildings and taking notice of his environment.
“To me, it’s really exciting to make a piece that I know is going to be in the Corning glass collection,” said Wolfe. “It’s amazing and a huge honor. I think the vision of the commission is a really great thing…The program helps foster creativity in artists by giving them this opportunity, and giving them this commission where it didn’t have some constraint, or some kind of direction… It pushed me to try to make something that can hold its own in the museum collection.”
The new work will be unveiled as part of a Behind the Glass lecture by Thaddeus Wolfe, during which time he will talk about his career and artistic vision, which led him to create this year’s commission. The public event will take place in the Museum’s auditorium from 6-7 p.m.
Born and raised in the glass-rich culture of Toledo, Ohio, Wolfe studied glass at the Cleveland Institute of Art, graduating with a BFA in 2002. Wolfe has held residencies at Pilchuck Glass School (Stanwood, WA), Creative Glass Center of America’s Wheaton Village (Millville, NJ), and the Museum of Glass (Tacoma, WA). After apprenticing with severable notable glass artists including Jeff Zimmerman and Josiah McElheny, he established his own studio practice in 2009. He is represented by R+Company in New York City and Volume gallery in Chicago. In addition to several private collections, his work is held by the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Stacked Grid Structure is now on display in the Contemporary Art + Design Galleries at The Corning Museum of Glass. A video interview with Wolfe on the making of Stacked Grid Structure accompanies the installation in the galleries, and is available on the Museum’s YouTube channel.
Stacked Grid Structure is the Museum’s 31st Rakow Commission. Inaugurated in 1986, the Rakow Commission is awarded annually to artists whose work is not yet represented in the Museum’s collection. The commission supports new works of art in glass by encouraging emerging or established artists to venture into new areas that they might otherwise be unable to explore because of financial limitations. It is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr. and Mrs. Leonard S. Rakow, Fellows, friends, and benefactors of the Museum. Each commissioned work is added to the Museum’s permanent collection and is displayed publicly.