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New exhibition at Toledo Museum of Art examines innovation in glass art throughout history

Chameleon Effects: Glass (Un)Defined
Chameleon Effects: Glass (Un)Defined

This spring the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) launches a sweeping consideration of glass art and experimentation through the ages. Chameleon Effects: Glass (Un)Defined brings together historical and contemporary works from TMA’s exceptional glass collection to explore the spectrum of technical and formal possibilities of the medium. Looking at the relationship between glass, precious stones, metalwork, ceramics, photography and performance, Chameleon Effects demonstrates the longstanding history of glass interacting with other materials. The exhibition, which will be installed in the Wolfe Gallery Mezzanine, challenges traditional art historical categories and features more than 30 works of art, including several new acquisitions by noted glass artists Shari Mendelson, Kim Harty and Sharyn O’Mara. This ongoing exhibition is free and opens to the public on March 27.

Chameleon Effects celebrates the history of glass and the legacy of glassmaking in Toledo and at the Toledo Museum of Art,” said Adam M. Levine, the Museum’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director and CEO. “We look forward to sharing this select group of TMA’s premier works of glass for an extended time and highlighting the diverse stories the objects convey.”

One of the oldest human-made substances, glass is neither a true solid nor a liquid and challenges conventional understandings of how materials work. For more than 4,000 years,

artists have exploited the inherent mutability of glass, transforming the molten material into an impressive range of forms, colors and textures, and often blurring the lines between one medium and another. More recently, artists have turned to newer materials and techniques, such as plastic and photography, to engage with historic glass and draw connections with the past.

“Ubiquitous in everyday lives, glass is a material we think we know and understand. This exhibition presents centuries of artistic experimentation and technical ingenuity in glass, demonstrating the complexity and versatility of the medium,” said Sophie Ong, TMA’s Hirsch curatorial fellow, who organized the exhibition. “Setting artworks in glass in relation to other materials and techniques, the installation underscores the Museum’s efforts to showcase works from the collection in new ways and across media and time.”

TMA boasts one of the most comprehensive and historically significant collections of glass art in the world. The Museum’s glass holdings have been continuously acquired, studied, conserved, published and exhibited. TMA is known as the incubator of the Studio Glass Movement. In 2006 TMA opened its Glass Pavilion designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architects SANAA. The state-of-the-art facility continues to house, care for, study and display the Museum’s renowned glass collection. The Glass Pavilion studio also provides opportunities to experience and participate in the art of making glass objects through demonstrations, classes and workshops, and artist residencies.

Chameleon Effects: Glass (Un)Defined is sponsored by 2021 Exhibition Program sponsors Taylor Cadillac and ProMedica, with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council.