There’s something about the ethereal beauty of stained glass that has bewitched every generation since ancient times. Throughout history, the craft has been mostly associated with medieval cathedral windows.
While it’s true that the craft was popular hundreds of years ago, today’s modern artists don’t consider it to be out of date. Furthermore, contemporary artists now use the art for more than church windows. What used to be an ancient work of art that typically shown biblical imagery is now setting a new trend, both in arts and architecture.
Modern glass art still involves the traditional techniques. Moreover, it is still crafted by arranging small pieces of colored glass to form images and patterns. The pieces are held together by strips of lead and are supported by a strong frame. But instead of making it in a flat panel, modern artists are using the glass in sculptures and other three-dimensional structures.
Today, the glass art transforms modern homes, art galleries and commercial spaces. With its exquisite beams of color and light, it creates an enchanting gleam that could take you into a different realm. Here are 8 contemporary artists who are putting a modern twist on the ancient craft. And when primeval and contemporary meet halfway, expect the get the best of both worlds.
Stained Glass By Christopher Janney
Chrisopher Janney is the creative mind behind the Harmonic Convergence. He is reworking stained glass by using it in architecture and with music. The world-class interactive sound and light installation is in the pedestrian walkway of Miami International Airport in Florida. In 2011, Janney was commissioned to revamp the airport’s pedestrian walkways that will serve as the new entrance to the airport.
Janney then replaced the existing panels with a diagonal pattern of colorful glass. Additionally, there are LED lights to. But that’s not all. Janney also created a multi-speaker sound-score within the walkways. This is to create a series of ever-changing ‘sound images’ as people move through the walkway.
Glass Watertower Tom Fruin
Located on the rooftop of 20 Jay Street building is the monumental Watertower that is unlike any other. The colorful Watertower isn’t really a water tower but it’s actually sculptural artwork. Tom Fruin an artist from Brooklyn made the installation with colorful upcycled plexiglass and steel. It is on a high water tower platform that can be seen from the parks and streets of Dumbo, Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
During the day, the Watertower sculpture lights up when the sun is out. At night, the installation comes alive with the help of Ardunio-controlled light sequences designed by Ryan Holsopple.
Nigerian-American portrait painter Kehinde Wiley is renowned for his highly realistic paintings of black people. In fact, he was commissioned to paint a portrait of former president Barack Obama in 2017. Amazingly, this talented painter doesn’t only limit his painting prowess in oil paint and canvas. By using glass, Wiley can ‘paint’ naturalistic images inspired by medieval religious imagery. But instead of using biblical characters, Wiley highlights modern-day people of color posing in familiar biblical scenes.
So, the different ways that artists use glass is now unfolding before our very eyes. If you were amazed by the Watertower sculpture then you’ll be more impressed with this driverless car by Dominic Wilcox. Aptly named the Stained Glass Driverless Sleeper Car of the Future, Wilcox flawlessly combines the past, present and the future. It’s not a functional vehicle though. In fact, this driverless car has only a bed inside which makes an elegant sleeping pod. So, what’s the idea behind this remarkable car?
“The car combines the handmade process of glass work with modern and future technologies to create a proposal of how transport could be in the middle of the 21st century.”, Wilcox explains.
German artist Sigmar Polke was asked to create windows for the Grossmünster cathedral in Zürich. Instead of going for biblical subjects, Polke chose a more modern take on the traditional art. His decorative windows have a thinly-sliced agate mosaic. The windows looks like a striking kaleidoscopic pattern of semi-precious stones.
Traditional and contemporary art can work well together. And Bridport-based artist Flora Jamieson is here to prove that. Her art has a perfect balance of old and the new. She uses glass pieces to create modern pieces that mostly depict natural subjects such as trees, birds and flowers.
“My favorite part of the stained glass process is choosing the glass colors – selecting just the right tones and shades so that they sing out next to each other. Once I have applied the paint and fired it in the kiln, something magical happens – seeing the contrast between the painted details and the vibrant colors, bringing the piece to life.”, Jamieson explains.
Glass Accessories By Elena Zaycman
Freelance glass designer, Elena Zaycman finds inspiration from stunning Tiffany glass. The Russian designer creates exquisites line of accessories. She makes pendants, brooches, pot ornaments and suncatchers. Most of her design inspiration comes from nature. Some of her favorite subjects are fruits, butterflies and moths. You can visit her Etsy shop to buy her amazing creations.
Known as the “House Made From Sugar”, this is a greenhouse that is made from caramelized sugar. Designed and built by William Lamson, this prismatic greenhouse is made of 162 sugar panels that are cooked at different temperatures. Lamson created the Solarium in 2012 for the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York.