February 5 - May 15, 2016

After a stunning and successful first run of Lifeforms in 2013,  we did it again.

"Lifeforms 2016" was an exhibition of the best biological glass models made in the spirit of the famous 19th and 20th century models of invertebrates and plants made by the father and son team, Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka for the Harvard University’s Botanical Museum. 

Nearly 200 entries, almost double from the first year, were received from across the U.S. and from 15 countries for this juried exhibition. Only 55 select works of art were on view in the gallery including a variety of life forms from animals and insects to plants and microorganisms.

The PGC exhibition included contemporary flameworked models, cast impressions and blown renditions. 

More About Lifeforms

The “Lifeforms” exhibition was inspired by glass life forms made by a father and son team Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the late 19th century, the public was intrigued by the unique plants unearthed by explorers and by the oddities of the sea being discovered by the newly invented submarine and deep sea diving kit. The Blaschkas offered a glimpse into those unknown, exotic worlds with their amazingly precise and detailed glass models. Through the years the Blaschkas made over 10,000 glass models.

For this exhibition at PGC, artists from around the world were invited to create their best biological models in spirit of the Blaschkas. Models had to be of a specific species and rendered as accurately as possible, but artistic presentation and creative contexts were encouraged.  

Only 55 works of art were selected for the exhibition out of nearly 200 submissions. An independent jury of four selected the artists based on accuracy, aesthetic beauty, presentation and originality.

Robert Mickelsen, a Florida-based glass artist, conceived of the idea for the exhibition. He said that it was more than homage to the Blaschkas. It represents a logical progression from then to now, morphing biological models of the 19th century into inspired works of art of the 21st century.

In 1886, George Lincoln Goodale commissioned Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf to make botanical models for the Harvard Botanical Museum. He chose the Blaschkas because they worked in glass. In the late-19th century, glass was the best material for the job. 

Other models of the times were made out of papier-mâché or wax and did not stand the test of time. No other material could be molded and manipulated to render organic forms as beautifully and accurately nor relied upon to last as long as glass. Funded by Elizabeth C. Ware and her daughter Mary Lee Ware, the Blaschkas made more than 4,000 models of plants and flowers over the next several decades.

See the digital catalog.

Lifeforms 2016 was supported in part by the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass and by 90.5 WESA and WYEP 91.3.


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