The Toledo Museum of Art has purchased the dramatic work in glass entitled Iago’s Mirror by artist Fred Wilson. The large, ornate work in black Murano glass has been installed in Gallery 5 of the Glass Pavilion®.
“Fred Wilson is an important artist whose work crosses boundaries between the glass world and contemporary art,” said TMA Director Brian Kennedy. “One of the Museum’s goals is to acquire works of art of singular merit by distinguished living artists. Iago’s Mirror is a perfect fit within our comprehensive glass collection.”
Wilson was born in the Bronx, New York in 1954. He received a BFA from SUNY/Purchase where he was the only African American student in his program. A conceptual artist with a focus on social justice, he returns, with this object, to a common thread within his work: a meditation on themes in Shakespeare’s Othello. Iago is the jealous villain of the story who sets about destroying his “friend” Othello, a black man, through the deliberate sowing of jealousy and suspicion that his wife is unfaithful. When Iago looks in the mirror, all he sees is blackness—in this case, the blackness of his own soul.
Wilson was introduced to glass as a medium in 2001 during a residency at the Pilchuck Glass School. In 2009 he worked with Berengo Studios in Venice to develop a process for layering mirrors together while preserving the intricate details of a traditional 18th-century Murano mirror. To create the dark reflection cast by Iago’s Mirror, the back side is colored black rather than silver. Black glass is the most difficult to create and always has a colored hue, here a deep purple.