Thursday, January 14, 2010

What fun!

Kids Design Glass at MOG is a hoot

The Weekly Volcano, Jan. 14, 2010
Pictured: "Banana Bam!" designed by Macay Fischer, age 8 ("A banana with speed and a fish with a place to go."

The Kids Design Glass exhibition at Museum of Glass should not be reviewed in any critical way. It should, however, be applauded with gusto. This is a delightful show and a wonderful program. Sponsored by KeyBank /Key Foundation and the Muckleshoot Charity Fund, the program invites children 12 and under who visit the museum or are patients at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital to design a glass sculpture. Each month one entry is selected by the MOG Hot Shop team and two sculptures are created — one for the child designer and one for the Museum's Permanent Collection. Fifty-two of the sculptures, along with the kids’ drawings and in many instances their written words about their creations, are in the current exhibition.

And what a delight it is! Most of the sculptures are fanciful creatures from the kids’ fertile imaginations. They are funny, highly inventive and colorful. Compared to the somber tones of the Preston Singletary show in the adjacent main gallery, this show is a three ring circus.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the kids’ drawings are better art than are the sculptures made from them by the Hot Shop team. Much of the spontaneity is lost in the finished glass pieces. The drawings have a rugged graphic quality that is quite beautiful, and a lot of them look better flat than fully rounded. The sculptures look slick and commercial in comparison to the drawings, and many of the hue and value contrasts are lost in the translation from rough sketch into finished glass art.

Some of the finished glass pieces look a lot like works by accomplished (adult) glass artists I’ve seen at MOG — some influences obviously rubbing off on the Hot Shop team. For instance, "Chickenpox" by 11-year-old Lucie Saether and "My-Mceequ" by Trenton Anderson, 9 ½, look a lot like vases by Dante Marioni.

Among the more delightful aspects of the show are the statements written by the children. The statement by Trenton Anderson, as a great example, says, “My-Mceequ is a squirrel, ant, and Allien monkey thing.”

Some of my favorite pieces are:

"Seasa, Baby Dinosaur" designed by Kiley Carpenter, 5. It’s a dinosaur being hatched from a multi-colored, striped egg. She wrote: “Important that the dinosaur pops up from the jagged edge of the broken egg.”

"Girl With Attitude" by Lakisha Coombs, 10, has what looks like a pickle coming out of her cheek with the words “Pick Me,” and a turtle inside a star on her belly. For reason I can’t fathom, the Hot Shop team made the turtle larger and deleted the star. This is one of those cases where I thought the drawing was better than the sculpture.

"Jolt" by Josiah Cramer, 11, is a happy little yellow creature that is delightful in both the drawn and sculpted versions.

"The Sequoia God" by Emma Lynn Foster, 10, has hair that in the finished piece looks like a mesh of tendrils by Dale Chihuley.

Finally, deserving of special note is "Broken Heart Snake" by Ayla Raye Ludolf, 10. The drawing of a happily voracious snake with big teeth is so charming, and I love her statement: “The snake takes people with love and takes it away from them it lives were people love most. It’s bite will make you not love for 10 years. With it two tail it can slap the love out of you. To get love back you must eat love-furit.”

There is a wonderful hardback book from this show with pictures of all 52 pieces complete with original drawings and the kids’ statement plus photos of the kids and the team at work in the Hot Shop.

[Museum of Glass, Kids Design Glass, through Feb. 2011, 1801 Dock St. Tacoma, 866.4MUSEUM]

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