Viral glass

David McFadden

Viral Glass 2021
Artwork by artists responding to the pandemic.

what is viral glass?

The past year has been devastating for everyone around the world. While the medical and social impact of Covid-19 are undeniable, this pandemic has also deeply influenced the making of art in every area of creative initiative.

This online exhibition looks specifically at how glass artists around the world are responding to the pandemic. While some have focused on the virus itself and the fear it instills, others have explored the depth and intensity of world-wide isolation. Still, 0ther creative individuals have focused on how this disaster can bring communities together, or how it has torn us apart. In any case, artists in every field have contributed to keeping the world moving. Asking each artist what their pandemic artwork centered on.

Viral Glass is honored to have David Revere McFadden, who is the past Chief Curator and Vice President for Programs and Collection at the Museum of Arts and Design, curate this virtual exhibition. This show will mark his long anticipated return. Submissions were accepted virtually and we would like to personally thank all the artist who sent their pandemic inspired work.

Viral Glass, a new web-based virtual exhibition will focus on the incredible work of international glass artists showcasing their creativity and resourcefulness during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to being an international forum for artists to share their concerns and visions, cash prizes will also be offered.

Habatat Galleries in Royal Oak, Michigan, is honored to share this important exhibition with the world. We invite you to explore and share this exhibition with anyone and everyone. Each artist has a story to tell and should you want to learn more about each participating artist click the link to view their virtual sites.

Corona Virus

Viral Glass is honored to have David  Revere McFadden, who is the past Chief Curator and Vice President for Programs and Collection at the Museum of Arts and Design, curate this virtual exhibition. Submissions were accepted virtually and we would like to personally thank all the artist who sent their pandemic inspired work.

Viral Glass, a new web-based virtual exhibition will focus on the incredible work of international glass artists showcasing their creativity and resourcefulness during the Coronavirus pandemic. This show will mark the long anticipated return of David McFadden, who was Chief Curator of the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC for 16 years, to our field as guest curator for this show. In addition to being an international forum for artists to share their concerns and visions, cash prizes will also be offered.

Habatat Galleries in Royal Oak, Michigan is honored to share this important exhibition with the world. We invite you to explore and share this exhibition with anyone and everyone. Each artist has a story to tell and should you want to learn more about each participating artist click the link to view their virtual sites.

Diorama 1, 2020, glass, print and mixed media, 110cm (w) x 60cm (d) x 75cm (h). Artwork photos: Robyn Manning; Portrait photo: Ernesto Rogata

My creative practice focuses on medical themes, exploring body and form, often about health, disease and visualizing illness. My artwork presents the body in unconventional ways, exploring what it means to see it from the inside out, or to see yourself and your cells at a microscopic level. I am fascinated by how alternative ways of understanding our physical being influence our day to day sense of embodiment and identity.

Days before the first UK lockdown started, I visited labs at Leeds University, UK, having won a commission to respond to research to discover whether membrane-disrupting peptides could be used to develop novel cancer treatments. Over the next 9 months of lockdowns, closure of the labs, anxiety and uncertainty, I collaborated with the research scientists via Zoom and experimented in my studio to create a piece that is destined (when restrictions allow) to be displayed in the Clinical Research Facility at St James’ University Hospital in Leeds, where patients take part in research trials.

It was a joy for me to be involved in creating a piece that celebrated research into potential treatments for a pervasive and life-threatening disease, but it was also a blessing that the disease was not Covid, which was so much in the forefront of everything else. The isolation of the lockdowns allowed me to work on developing a style of pate de verre which incorporated different textures of glass, to mirror some of the phenomena that informed the team’s work. This has now led to a whole new body of work for me, using pate de verre techniques drawn from this experience.

How We Take Care of Each Other, 21 glass panels.

Michael Janis' sculpture is about connection. It speaks to how our current situation prevents connection, as we self-isolate and avoid contact with anyone who is potentially infected with COVID-19. This goes against our nature. Humans are social creatures, and our relationships have been built and held together by complicated non-verbal language, beginning between parent and child. The kilncast glass circular panels are abstractions of the virus, and the imagery within some of the panels reference aspects of the pandemic, on how the virus is transmitted, our sense of isolation, and how COVID-19 cases are heavily concentrated in the African American population. The imagery in the panels is created by manipulating and fusing finely crushed glass powder.

Michael Janis is one of the directors of the Washington Glass School, located in Washington, DC. He is known for his work on glass using the exceptionally difficult sgraffito technique on glass.

Janis was a 2012 Fulbright scholar and as such he taught at the University of Sunderland in England, where he also taught at the UK's National Glass Centre, and also became an artist-in-residence at the Institute for International Research in Glass (IIRG). In 2016, Janis was nominated and won the Washington, DC Mayor's Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts.

For Those Who Passed Away, Flame worked, 42cm (h) x 15cm (w) x 15cm (d) (9 pieces), 12cm (h) x 5cm (w) x 5cm (d) (6 pieces), 2020

The number of Covid-19 deaths seen on television and online media had been increasing almost hourly during the first outbreak of the disease. The people fell ill and died as if the leaves were falling. This pandemic incident has caused sorrow for him greatly together with the city's Lock down policy to prevent the rise of the infected, Studio Glass Blowing, where he works for, has to be temporarily stopped. Therefore, he has spent these times on the Flame Working, creating tiny petals one by one. Over time Three months, he made more than 1,000 tiny petals with his own hands, “the number of these created petals cannot even compare to the number of people who have died of this terrible disease," Ake said.

He assembled these tiny flower petals into a sculpture inspired by the deceased’s "wreath" and "mortuary urn" covering the human "lungs" to express condolences to the many people who have died from this disease and to encourage and remind those who are still aware of the vulnerability of life and see the value of being alive.

Ake Rawdmek is a Thai artist born in 1991, having a bachelor's degree in sculpture, faculty of painting, sculpture and graphic arts, Silpakorn University (2015). In the early of 2018, Ake started taking classes related to glass art seriously with BGC Glass Studio, the first integrated art of glassblowing in Thailand. The instructors are artists in the team at BGC Glass Studio and had the opportunity to study with international artists such as Yumiko Noda, Osamu Noda, Peter Bowles, Austin Stern, Eric Pedersen, Jeremy Popelka and Stephanie Trenchard.

Lucio Bubacco's works combine the anatomic perfection of Greek sculpture with the Byzantine gothic architecture of his native Venice. He is known for his unique human and fantasy figures, which are entirely hand-formed and incorporated in blown vases or in casting. His work has been published and exhibited around the world. - CMOG

“Premonition”, 2020, 33 x 22 in x 10.5 inches. Cast glass and steel.

What sets this sculpture apart relative to the pandemic experience is more the treatment of the metal that has been made a flat black patina of single curved plains of steel. Surface glare is kept to a minimal as it embraces the celebratory luminescent glass element above.

In regards to perspective of what COVID-19 has meant to me, my sculpture work from the end of ’89 has most always dealt with an element of precarious balance, which I titled it “Pillared Series”. Three events in the 80’s period brought this about. The first was the fall or the Soviet Union with the wall coming down. Being a child of the “50’s atomic holocaust conditioning”, this was a great revelation of relief. The second there was traumatic political turmoil going on at the college where I taught, I reconciled that they would do whatever they want but meanwhile I was there for my students. The third was adoption of a child, the joys and fears of parent.

A primary concept of what these nonobjective sculptures are concerned with is “presence”. That what ever the issues are about, that one is present in the moment and assessing the existence of the issue presented by the forms. Not unlike being in the presence of another person.

Technique: The sculpture contains a cast glass element made with a slumped glass disk into a carved mold. The glass disk is made from fused laminate color and clear sheet and billet glass. Finished with grinding and polishing. Steel elements are of welded single plane forms, black patina and flat lacquer finish.

Screw Pile, 2021 26 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches. Cast crystal, granite, and gilding paint

Emmett Barnacle was born in Providence Rhode Island in 1988. He began working with glass in high school first blowing glass and flame working before attending Rhode Island School of Design. After getting his BFA from RISD he began his own studio in Pawtucket Rhode Island where he creates his cast glass sculpture. Aside from working on his own work Emmett has worked as lead technical assistant to glass artist and sculptor Daniel Clayman since 2014.

This piece was made by the lost wax casting process and cold working. I started the wax for this piece one year ago right before the pandemic happened after having my first child and starting a new series about lighthouses. The idea of coming home from “sea” and seeing that light of hope and a beacon of home seemed fitting. Then COVID hit and somehow I became that lighthouse attendant in isolation with my family. I then moved studios setting up a whole new shop and finally was able to cast this piece late last year the first piece out of my new kiln in my new studio. For me this piece is finally the light of hope moving forward as we all start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine and life inevitably and eventually going back to normal.

CORONAVIRbUS, 2020. 87 x 31 x 20 cm. Lampworked glass

Mauro dialogues with glass souls as he does with a friend, a traveling companion, talking about his own emotions and the sensations that come to him from within when he comes into contact with matter, an almost visceral relationship, a telling of stories from the present and the past that narrate the beauty and charm of the Venetian universe and the element that most represents it, the sea.

The virus is represented as a reckless bus driving its passengers to an unknown destination. They hope to be able to escape and get off safely by holding on to each other.

I am an Infectious Diseases physician who also works in fused glass and watercolor. This has been particularly challenging during the time of the corona virus pandemic. I created several pieces related to the pandemic. I have attached photos of COVID Exploded 1 and COVID Exploded 3. They represent what I imagine the virus would look like after destruction by the immune system or an antiviral medication.

I started working with Kari Minnick in fused glass around 2005 after meeting her at Pyramid Atlantic a paper making studio where I had learned to make Eastern and Western handmade paper and books. I have had my own glass studio for four years. I am interested in experimental techniques, particularly high flow to try to get a watercolor like appearance to my works. I make both functional pieces and wall pieces. Nature is a long-term inspiration for all of my artistic endeavors.

"Globalizado 1.9" , 2021. 26 cm diameter. Blown glass. Image transfer.

Born in Avellaneda, where I still live and work.
I am passionate about teaching and I share my knowledge with my students from Argentina and from around the world creating new spaces of communication and experimentation of the recently developed methods.

I use the physical characteristics of glass to talk about a timeless world of constant movement and relate it to an iron containment. Two opposite materials on both transparency and fragility. I think the narrative of my pieces expresses different kinds of lectures, it leaves a part open for interpretation of the viewer.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we have moved our internal worlds many times breaking the containment. Who hasn't thought of how to move on from here? Nothing will be the same, but we can make it better.

Corona, 2020. 20 x 16 inches. Fused tiles on aluminum.
Corona Merona, 2020. 14 x 11 inches. vitrigraph murrini on aluminum.
Waiting and Watching, 2020. 19 x 15 inches. Glass, paint, frame.

I am a retired scientist and fused glass artist living in Durham, NC. Biology and the patterns in nature have always inspired me. My original attraction to glass art was how I could create cell-like glass forms that reminded me of what I viewed through the microscope. Besides being captivated by the optical properties that are so interesting and seductive in fused glass art, I love the experimental aspects of fused glass techniques. It is with anticipation that I open the kiln to see the results of the fusing process.

The artworks that I entered in the Viral Glass 2021 exhibit represent two sides of my year during the pandemic. Most of my art has been inspired by scientific and natural themes, and the Corona pieces came from those ideas. The “Waiting and Watching” art work was inspired by a year of sitting by the window hoping that this time will soon pass. I have the anticipation looking out that the time won’t be too long before we can spend more time with friends and traveling again.

I did this murrini series with an idea around memories. We are conscious that this is an extraordinary time that we are going through. And with these flameworked coins, I hope to create a trace of this event and testify we were there - a kind of memorabilia through glass, ideal material to represent time.

Small objects can bring a sense of intimacy - not just by the size but our relation and response to them. The small object is remarkable because not only can we touch them or secret them away but also carry them with us - physically and emotionally. And for these times, keep these memories always close.

Marking 1 year since the UK’s first National Lockdown – which began on 23rd March 2020, Luke Jerram has created this coronavirus (COVID-19) glass sculpture.

Internationally-renowned artist Luke Jerram has created a coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, in tribute to the huge global scientific and medical effort to combat the pandemic. Made in glass, at 45cm in diameter, it is 6.3 million times larger than the actual virus. Luke says: “Helping to communicate the form of the virus to the public, the artwork has been created as an alternative representation to the artificially coloured imagery received through the media. In fact, viruses have no colour as they are smaller than the wavelength of light.”

“This artwork is a tribute to the scientists and medical teams who are working collaboratively across the world during this pandemic.” To mark the ten millionth vaccination in the UK, international artist Luke Jerram has now also made and released a sculpture of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in glass. The artwork, which is 34cm across, is 1 million times larger than the actual nanoparticle. Created from borosilicate glass, it is made from the same materials and techniques used in medical scientific glassware for test tubes and distilleries. Testing positive for Covid-19 in November, the artist says he’s still feeling the effects of the virus.
“When I created a sculpture of Covid-19 back in March, little did I know I’d later be among those to contract the virus. It’s an awful disease and two months on, my sense of smell is shot, I have tinnitus and still feel tired at times.

“During my recovery, it became clear to me that my next artwork should focus on the vaccine, our way out of this global crisis, as a tribute to the scientists and medical teams who have been working collaboratively across the world to fight the virus.

“It’s brilliant that such effective vaccines have been created in such a short space of time and that here in the UK we’ve been able to role them out so quickly. However, the fight against the disease is a global one, which is why I wanted to support Médecins Sans Frontières, through the sale of these sculptures.” Created as limited editions of just 5, the profits from the sale of these glass artworks are going to charities working with communities impacted by the pandemic. Made through a process of scientific glassblowing, the sculptures are based on the latest scientific understanding and diagrams of the virus and vaccine.

Dafna Kaffeman is an artist and a senior lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. She works with glass and fabrice to produce what the David Owsley Museum of Art describes as "beautiful crafted surfaces and disturbing text about aggressors and victims". She lives and works in Israel. Dafna Kaffeman received the Andree Matter Award for achievements in the field of Arts,2020. In summer 2021 she will open her solo exhibitions at the Chrysler Museum of Art, USA, and the Petach Tikva Museum of Art ,IL.

The series of work "crowns" consists of 6 crowns: 5 made in glass, and one consists of letters creating the sentence: " I am sorry but I don’t believe you are saying the truth". The work, created in 2020, during the covid-19 pandemic, reflects on the beauty of nature, in verse of the fear and chaos caused by the pandemic.

The crowns symbolize the corona crown. Some of the crowns are copying very colorful flowers such as the Lantana flower or the Clerodendrum splendens, some like the rose bulbs or the pine cones, are brown or dark purple. One of the crowns is made of Hebrew letters creating the sentence " I am sorry but I don’t believe you are saying the truth". (a quote from the prime minister of Israel investigations, published Sep 2020 in Haaretz newspaper). This sentence is acting on different levels in view of deep state allegations, false information and more – in the chaotic period we find ourselves in.

'Measuring My Days’, ongoing since April 2020. Reclaimed glass, water, food colouring, paper, ink, cotton string.

With a creative practice situated at the intersection of glass, writing, and design, I am an American artist and practice-based researcher currently residing in Scotland, where I am completing my PhD thesis, titled ‘Association in Creative Idea Generation: A Black Box Dissertation Staged in Lyric Inquiry and Glass Concepts’.

Measuring My Days is an ongoing, conceptual artwork, which uses reclaimed glass jars (saved during the pandemic lockdown) to create a physical, visual diary that attempts to give space and weight to the ‘invisible’ illness of chronic fatigue. The project attends to my personal experience and takes inspiration from two poetic lines: ‘I have measured out my life with coffee spoons’ in The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock by T. S. Eliot, and ‘Something is always born of excess’, written by Anaïs Nin in her diaries. This artwork has been my attempt to reclaim every day that I lost to medical issues, by capturing, containing, and taking back my days, especially during lockdown. Through it, I have tried to highlight this overlooked illness, reframe my health, and enable an alternative perspective on this last year.

In 2018, I had a cancer surgery which resulted in major complications. It left me unable to function as I had, and I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue by the end of the year. I struggled with my daily life and getting through each creative practice suffered as I suffered...I was tied to my living space and could not be in the studio. I began obsessively charting my daily symptoms to find their patterns and document my days to aid discussions with my doctors and direct medical testing. I was in the process of creating my ‘new normal’ when the pandemic struck in early 2020. I continued charting throughout lockdown and while I had Covid in March 2020, anxiously tracking my fevers and chest pains early in the pandemic against the 7–10 days that the medical community identified as the critical period. My health chart includes thirty-two fields about my body, emotions, diet, exercise, and environment. It uses a rating system of words and colours. When I was quite sick (as I am in recovery-remission at the time of this writing), my days were so structured with the timings of self-care, that the shape of every day was very similar. Many of my therapies revolved around strict diets to consume nutrients and medicines at specific times, therefore, when I began developing the project, I opted to use the kitchen to find my raw materials. I chose glass jars for their common, transparent nature. They were also readily available to me because many of my diet foods were packaged in these and recycling had been put on hold due to Scotland’s lockdown restrictions. I used the same jar type to represent each day on the chart. If the shape of a day was notably distinctive from the rest, then I used a different glass container to indicate this. I translated the health chart data into a value system of food colourings named by the maker after fruits and vegetables, which I combined with a set amount of water to mix each day’s colours. Basing my colour choices on my chart, I used reds and pinks to indicate bad symptoms and a set of greens to show the positive. For instance, my ‘strawberry’ food colour is equal to the red-black of my chart, indicating a high pain level or serious symptom. I topped each jar with a minimized image of my chart, with the represented day highlighted in yellow. I tagged each jar with the date, its value, and food colouring contents. Jar bottoms have labels with my actual chart data as ingredients. Measuring My Days reframes my accounting of my illness to make a conceptual artwork through which I enact the analogy that the healing process is like the creative process.

What we can't see (Lo que no se ve), 2020. 2.9 x 2 inches.
Pate de verre ( with Optul glass powder, glue and water)
Photo credit: Martín Sabbatella Abascal

The work represents the part we cannot see from the faces in this Pandemic.

Mariana Sabbatella is an art teacher and artist from the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a high school ceramic teacher and has worked for 15 years at the Ceramic School in Chascomús city. In 2020 she joined the Glass Experimentation Group of the Artist and teacher Andrea da Ponte. Her works are the result of a constant exploration of techniques and materials.

Justinian's Oculus, 2021 33 x 33 x 4 inches. Cast lead crystal.

The Plague of Justinian was the first known plague in 541-549 AD. It was the first time that the black plague was seen on this planet and was named after the Roman Emperor Justinian I who reportedly contracted it early on in Constantinople, though he survived. It ultimately killed 1/5th of the entire population of that city over 5 years. The people there called it Justinian's Plague. Justinian said that whenever he saw his reflection, he imagined the faces of those who died looking back.

This is my second pandemic, as I have lived through the AIDS crisis. So many souls have been lost to both. Strange that the mind will forget so much of what only this moment has passed, and yet hold crystal clear the memory of what happened years ago...of men and women long since dead . Yet who can say what is real and what is not? Can I believe my friends are gone when their voices are still whispering into my ears every night as I fall asleep. I will always believe they live on in my heart and mind.

Silver Linings 1, 2020. 48 x 36 inches. Glass on fine silver on canvas.

This work is made from colored and clear bits of glass (referred to as frit), held in place with clear archival adhesive, on fine silver leaf on canvas.

I have completed three in this series during the pandemic, ranging from "mostly sunny" to "dark and threatening", and am working on the fourth.. These pieces have allowed me to express the variations in my changing mood and outlook in general yet specific terms, from optimistic to apocalyptic.

I was coached at the very beginning of the pandemic that not knowing what it would all bring, there was a chance of great positive changes resulting from this global affliction. This work keeps my mind on the understanding of that possibility. The "silver linings" title is a play on the cliche, designed to highlight the metaphor of dark things also having bright sides. It is also a very literal reference to the highly reflective silver substrate which allows and creates a lot of light movement through the work, making it ever changing like most things.

David Revere McFadden was Chief Curator and Vice President for Programs and Collections at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City from 1997 until his retirement in 2013.

He served for two years as Executive Director of the Millicent Rogers Museum of Northern New Mexico in Taos, New Mexico. From 1978 to 1995, McFadden served as Curator of Decorative Arts and Assistant Director for Collections and Research at Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. McFadden did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Minnesota, and received his graduate degree in the History of Art (Renaissance and Baroque Studies), with a secondary major in Chinese history. He served for six years as President of the International Council of Museums Decorative Arts and Design Committee.

McFadden has organized more than one hundred exhibitions on decorative arts, design and craft, covering developments from the ancient world to the present day. Exhibitions highlighting important and sometimes overlooked areas of design include tiles, keys and locks, pottery and porcelain, glass and silver. Most of these exhibitions were accompanied by catalogues. Thematic exhibitions curated by McFadden include Wine: Celebration and Ceremony, which studied the social and material culture of wine throughout history; L'Art de Vivre: Decorative Arts and Design In France 1789–1989, organized an official manifestation of the bicentennial of the French Revolution, Scandinavian Modern 1880–1980, the first American exhibition to survey modern design from all five Nordic countries over a one-hundred-year period; Hair, a landmark exploration of the visual and design history of human hair; Toward Modern Design: Revival and Reform in Applied Arts 1880–1920; Good Offices and Beyond: The Evolution of the Workplace, a survey of designs for the office in the twentieth century; Structure and Style: Modernism in Dutch Applied Arts 1880–1930, the first American exhibition devoted to Dutch applied arts from that half century. For the Museum of Arts and Design, McFadden has organized exhibitions that include Defining Craft (2000), Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation—Contemporary Native American Art (with co-curator Ellen Taubman), Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting (2007), Pricked: Extreme Embroidery (2008), Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary (2008), Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection, Slash:Paper Under the Knife (2009). McFadden's other exhibitions have included such diverse subjects as eighteenth-century European porcelains, English Majolica of the nineteenth century, puppets, American art pottery, and Hungarian jewelry and silver, Art Nouveau ceramics, contemporary art quilts, and jewelry. After his retirement in 2013, McFadden has not actively participated in independent curatorial or writing projects.