“Well Hung: Chandeliers Revealed,” a new exhibit at Pittsburgh Glass Center, celebrates the cross-pollination of functional and sculptural art as expressed through glass chandelier design. Daniel Spitzer and Katherine Gray, two of the show’s featured artists, discuss their inspiration.
Spitzer: I created “DUSTUP” as an homage to the cartoon form. I have always loved the comics of the early 20th Century; Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo in Slumberland” and George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat” are my particular favorites. I appreciate that they were able to craft these visually halting realities with simple means and still throw in some interesting ideas for the mix. The design for DUSTUP is a reference to the cloud of debris raised by a great scuffle. Elements of the fight are thrown around, and every so often a combatant emerges for a second. This fight in DUSTUP is over a longstanding argument as to whether glass is a craft or an art. I have objects from both “art” and “craft” involved in the struggle: the Venus de Milo, a painter’s palette, an anvil, a Venetian-style goblet and the menacing arm of an artist holding a paint brush among them.
The chandelier form was a good fit for this piece since lighting the brawl from within gives the work added energy without creating chaos. I kept the lighting low, so DUSTUP will not illuminate an entire room but draw attention to a particular section of the space.
Gray: “Pitcher Chandelier” incorporates 12 different pitchers, basically acting as the shades. There is a lot of overlap in the characteristics of glass, light and liquid, and I was trying to convey a sense of the mutability of these materials. Essentially, this piece is constructed in a traditional chandelier format, but it is updated and modernized with a touch of irony, while at the same time paying homage to the chandelier as icon.
Although, in this case, I had to drill holes on the bottoms of each pitcher, I am always interested in making things that can perform more than one function. I design with light because it is an area that is rich with metaphors. In a room, perhaps the piece would start up some conversation, which in another way, sheds light.