WAUSAU, WISCONSIN: Part of a nationwide initiative celebrating 50 years of contemporary glass artistry, the Woodson Art Museum presents The Americans in Glass Legacy, an exhibition of forty-three works acquired from the Museum’s three hot-glass exhibitions held in 1978, 1981, and 1984.
The Woodson’s exhibition, on view through April 7, features artist Harvey K. Littleton, one of the internationally recognized founders of the American Studio Glass Movement, which in 1962 ushered in a new medium of artistic expression.
The evolution from factory-made, mass-produced to individually designed, studio-produced glasswork led to an explosion of creativity as artists experimented with fluid glass through blowing, molding, layering, cutting, polishing, and embellishing. Once advances in technology enabled the cost-effective construction of small glass furnaces for studios, artists eagerly began stretching the boundaries of the medium.
In the spring of 1962, Harvey K. Littleton, professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dominick Labino, fellow artist and glass research scientist at Johns Mansville, held a two-week glass-blowing workshop. Working in a Toledo Art Museum storage shed, the small group of artists repeatedly tweaked the initial batch recipe to get a consistent, usable glass. Problems with the slow, controlled cooling of the glass – called annealing – meant that few works survived, yet knowledge gained through the experimentation proved to be groundbreaking. Littleton and Labino became regarded as the forward-thinking duo who sparked the American Studio Glass Movement. By the fall of 1962, Littleton offered the first glass-blowing classes at the University of Wisconsin.
Americans in Glass, a thrice-held, triennial exhibition inaugurated at the Woodson Art Museum in 1978, promoted the burgeoning glass movement. The first exhibition featured 110 works created by juried and invited artists, including Littleton, Dale Chihuly, Marvin Lipofsky, and Joel Philip Myers. Subsequent Americans in Glass exhibitions were organized in 1981 and 1984; extended national and international tours followed, garnering considerable attention for studio glass.
The Americans in Glass Legacy presents forty-three works from the Museum’s permanent collection acquired from artists participating in the three Americans in Glass exhibitions, in tandem with the national studio glass celebration. The Woodson Art Museum joins ten Midwest museums in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan in hosting exhibitions and special events during 2012 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the studio glass movement in the United States. For information about upcoming national events, check the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass website.
Woodson Art Museum
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
First Thursday of each month 9:00 am – 7:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday Noon – 5:00 pm
Closed Monday and holidays, including Easter
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 N. 12th Street)