Sunday, August 15, 2010

Emotional Weight from the Weightlessness of Glass : 1000 halos by Hiromi Takizawa

An artist who engages specific dialogues inherent to her Japanese heritage and the subtle nuances and observable oddities of living in the “West”, Takizawa integrates observed optical phenomena - transmission, reflection and refraction of light through glass - into personal narratives. She uses shifts in perception unique to the qualities of glass, to transform emotions and cultural paradigms into experiences of concrete materiality.

In recent work, Takizawa's attention is directed specifically towards the power of a halo : the ring of aura that surround the heads of spiritual figures across both European and Asian cultures. 1000 halos transforms the artist's experience at Japan's Sanjusangen-dou temple (where an intangible aura resonates from the halo ring or disks of 1,000 Buddha statues) into a wall-based installation composed of 1000 nearly-invisible, warm-tinted glass shards, each with a hole. Light is cast through these objects, shadows are formed on the wall. The holes, like magic, are transformed into glowing halos.

"It is an amazing and stunning experience when I walked into the temple. I felt the weight of the history, and the craftsmanship of wood sculptures is very intense," Takizawa says, and in turn, recreates a similar, overwhelming emotional weight for viewers to encounter in a trans-cultural setting. In the process of doing so, she engages two conversations that are of interest to post-glass "watchers" :

* She brings to studio glass a rigorous study of "membranously" thin glass, an example of intense development of potential (technique and vocabulary) in an area previously ignored, unseen or out-of-bounds (in this case, residue or mistake). Takizawa burns through the surface of an extremely thin-skinned unshaped glass bubble by spot-heating. The rings pop out by themselves due to thermal shock in open air after a little while. Simply put, Takizawa changes the rules of glassblowing to produce rings.

* She toys with hierarchy in relationship between object and shadow by bringing the intangible shadows into poetic prominence in the installation. She doubles the concrete materiality of glass in a weightless manner. The viewers' experience towards this field of halos is based on their ability to shift perception when they encounter the installation. Notions of a finite object and self-contained beauty inherent to studio glass are transcended.

Takizawa's thousand rings embody the weightlessness, transparency, and fragility of her personal questions: to communicate the intensity she witnessed in the form a specific instance of Japanese material culture, but in a form that exceeds the physical object, remains intangible yet powerful. 1000 halos are cut out of glass, but their expression is manifest in their projection of light.

1000 halos is on view at the Robert Lehman Gallery at UrbanGlass, Brooklyn, NY Sep 15 - Dec 23 2010 and during the exhibition "Objects of Devotion and Desire" at Bertha & Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery, NY in 2011.

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