Josh Simpson: Galactic Landscapes
On view July 14, 2018 through January 6, 2019
This solo show of innovative works by renowned glass artist Josh Simpson reflects his fascination with astrophysics, deep space, and the cosmos. Exemplifying the intersection of art and science, Simpson’s continued experimentation with technique and materials results in extraordinary art glass.
Galactic Landscapes features 30 of Simpson’s imaginative Planets – solid glass spheres that suggest distant worlds and landscapes, ranging in size from that of a golf ball to a basketball. There are also 14 large-diameter discs, 14 to 18 inches across, full of swirling textures and colors that evoke nebulae, colliding stars, and other astronomical events. There are two platters or disks that incorporate a Saturn-like sphere in the center.
The centerpiece of the gallery is an original Orrery, a moving, mechanical model of the solar system, made in collaboration with artist Erik Van Cort, that incorporates Simpson’s glass spheres as the sun, the planets, and their moons. This exhibit also features three of Simpson’s inventive Portals, sculptural objects inspired by meteorites and geodes. A video showing Josh Simpson and his crew making one of the megaplanets is part of the exhibition as well.
“It is a thrill to present this exciting exhibition of exquisite glass objects created by Josh Simpson. While his work is widely celebrated, he is very much a New Englander, based in nearby Shelburne Falls,” says Craig Langlois, the Berkshire Museum’s chief experience officer. “Because glassblowing is a convergence of art and science, especially when it takes the form of an exploration of space and astronomy, this work fits our Museum’s mission perfectly.”
About Josh Simpson
BBNM 7.173.03. 18 by Josh Simpson
Josh Simpson has been a glass artist since 1971, maintaining a studio in Shelburne Falls in western Massachusetts since 1976. There he uses ancient glass-blowing tools and techniques along with his own inventions and high-tech engineering to create his glass. Drawn equally to both science and art, Simpson is enamored of physics, high temperature chemistry, powered flight, the night sky, nature, all things mechanical, and the workings of the universe, as well as by color, form, contrast, iridescence, tessellating patterns, and complexity. His work also reveals a fascination with contradiction, paradox, magic, and the alchemy of glass. Living on a hilltop in Shelburne Falls enables Simpson to frequently witness natural phenomena such as a thunderstorm moving up his valley, the star-filled night sky, and sometimes the Aurora Borealis over the horizon, all of which inform his work in subtle, unexpected ways.
Simpson’s glass has been shown in many museums and galleries across the U.S. and internationally. Examples of major works are included in the collections at the Corning Museum of Glass, the White House Collection of American Crafts at the Clinton Library, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Yale University Art Gallery, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in Charlotte, NC, the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA, as well as many other museums in the U.S. and around the world. He often gives presentations on the art and science of glassblowing, including a talk at TEDx Beacon Street. Simpson will spend part of 2018 as artist-in-residence at the Corning Museum of Glass, researching the use and history of silver in glassmaking.
Manipulating sand and metallic oxides under intense heat is a process that continues to engage Simpson even after nearly fifty years. He describes glass as a material “that flows like honey” when molten. When it’s hot, he says, “glass is alive. It moves gracefully and inexorably in response to gravity and centrifugal force. It possesses an inner light and transcendent radiant heat that make it simultaneously one of the most rewarding and one of the most frustrating materials for an artist to work with. … Most of my work reflects a compromise between the molten materials and me.” For more information on artist Josh Simpson, visit www.megaplanet.com.
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