Laurel Library’s Grand Opening Features Public Art Sculpture by Washington Glass Studio

Washington Glass Studio sculpture at the new Laurel Library.

Washington Glass Studio sculpture at the new Laurel Library. Photo by Pete Duvall.

The Washington Glass Studio (WGS) has recently completed installation of a community based site specific public art commission for Prince George’s County Laurel Library. The new building was designed by Grimm + Parker Architects, with the grand opening of the new library scheduled for November 28, 2016. Features of the spectacular new library include an inset floor area in the children’s section where kids will get to peer at a replica velociraptor skeleton through the glass floor. Just a few miles away from the library site is Dinosaur Park, where scientists work to excavate fossils from the early Cretaceous period. Dinosaur imagery was also included as a theme running through the glass artwork panels.

WGS design proposal sketch

WGS design proposal sketch.

WGS was awarded the commission to make the outdoor sculpture at the front of the new library by Maryland’s Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC). The Art in Public Places Program RFQ sought out artwork that would provide world class artwork for Prince George’’s County residents and visitors. 

WGS proposal for the project was a 17′H internally illuminated glass and steel sculpture that incorporates glass panels made by the community,residents and stakeholders of the Laurel, MD community. The engineering of the steel framework involved detailed analysis of the structure and its components. WGS worked with structural engineer Holbert Apple to ensure the integrity of the design.

Detailed analysis of sculpture was part of the design development process.

Detailed analysis of sculpture was part of the design development process.

Over 100 glass inset panels were made during the series of workshops held at the Washington Glass School. The Baltimore Sun newspaper featured a story by reporter Lisa Philip about the process. 

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer.

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer. Photo by Lisa Philip/Baltimore Sun

 

 

The artwork’s title “Involve Me and I Learn”  is based on a phrase attributed to US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (who also opened the first US public library). The name references the engagement of the community. The neighborhood and the Laurel Library supporters had joined in making the individual glass panels in workshops at the Washington Glass School.Laurel_Library.artists.washington_glass_school.studio.sculpture.public_art.project.american.great.commission.site_specific.fused.jpg

The resulting variations in each tile’s imagery and technique embody the artist’s concept in bringing the people from the diverse community together to create a cohesive and vibrant sculpture. 

 

 

The artwork inset kiln-formed glass panels express the personality and the  individuality of everyone involved in the project.

The artwork’s internally illuminated kiln-formed glass panels express the personality and the individuality of everyone involved in the project. Photo by Pete Duvall

Project  Information

Artist: Washington Glass Studio 

Design Team: Laurie Brown, Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson. With Josh Hershman and Pierre Browning.

Structural Engineer : Holbert Apple Assoc Inc 

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Photo by Pete Duvall

Laurel Library
507 7th Street, Laurel, MD 20707

Grand Opening / Dedication – 10:30 AM, Monday, November 28, 2016 – All are invited!

The Process: Public Art and Placemaking

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DC Ward 7 Green Community Arch sculpture located at the new Unity Healthcare Building.

One of the Washington Glass Studio’s most ambitious public art projects has just completed installation. The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities commissioned the sculpture for the new Unity Healthcare facility in Washington, DC, and the glass-and-steel artwork was installed without a problem this week.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

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Concept design for the Green Community Gateway Arch

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The public artwork concept was designed and engineered to a high level.

The design of the public artwork was intended to mark the symbolic entrance to the Kenilworth / Parkside section of DC’s Ward 7. This area (near Caeser Chavez charter school, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Anacostia Freeway) was recently identified as a DC Promise neighborhood – and its experiencing a renewed investment in neighborhood revitalization. After meeting with community representatives, the WGS team focused on themes that were strongly held. A “Community Gateway Arch” became the vision for the placemaking sculpture that would help identify the new environment. The glass panel insets in the 16′ tall sculpture would be made with the help of the neighborhood residents, students of the high school, and the staff of the new Unity Healthcare facility. The Washington Glass Studio worked with the DC Creates! Public Art Program selection committee, the DCCAH Council, Unity Parkside Health Care, the Ward 7 ANC and the community and held a series of glass “quilting-bees” and made a communal environment where community and art were not separate. 

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Artist Erwin Timmers oversaw the structural integration of support framework, LED lighting and glass panel insets.

The 16′ high x 14′ wide sculpture lit internally with LED lighting was one of the largest outdoor artworks installed to date for the Washington Glass Studio, and much went into the design, engineering and the fabrication of the steel framework. 

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

In early 2014, with the structural foundation for the artwork finished and the steel framework underway, the call went out to the community to come make glass. By directly involving the public in the creation of the new landmark, the space would resonate because the artwork would have meaning to all – as everyone had the chance to tell their story.  The glass workshops were packed. Many of the people that came to work in glass returned to each of the scheduled dates – they loved working in glass and wanted to see how the artwork changed once fired. 

DC ANC Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

DC ANC Ward 7 Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

By having many area residents making the glass art insets, the sculpture has an increased sense of local identity. The artwork arch stimulates curiosity, inspired some of the budding artists to consider new artistic avenues and on occasion, create a smile.

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Many voices told many stories in the inset panels that made up the glass quilt archway.

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Opposite view of Washington, DC’s Green Community Arch.

The formal opening ceremony of the Anacostia Arch with DC Mayor Gray is now being scheduled. We will update on the school’s FB page and on the blog!

Project Details

  • Location: Corner Hayes Street & Kenilworth Terrace, NE; Washington, DC 20019
  • Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson, Derek Thomas, Miles Lark, Cris Chaney and Robyn Townsend
  • Structural Engineers: Holbert Apple Associates, Inc and Wolfman and Associates
  • Structural Steel: Iron Kingdom
  • Number of Glass Tile Insets: Over 300
  • Weight of Sculpture: 2000 lbs

Smithsonian American Art Museum Features Michael Janis

Smithsonian Distinguished Artist Michael Janis

Michael Janis at the Smithsonian Museum. Photo by Miriam Rosenthal.

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Washington Glass School sgraffito workshop. Photo by Miriam Rosenthal.

The James Renwick Alliance (JRA) is an independent national non-profit organization that celebrates the achievements of America’s craft artists and fosters scholarship, education and public appreciation of craft art. The JRA is the exclusive support group of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the U.S. national showcase of contemporary American craft. Washington Glass School Co-Director Michael Janis was named “Distinguished Artist” by the JRA. The weekend’s events included a sgraffito glass workshop with Michael held at the Washington Glass School and Michael Janis presented at the Smithsonian Museum’s Turner Auditorium outlining his career, process, and artwork. The talk at the museum was broadcast live and the Smithsonian staff promised that it would be available online soon. 3.michael.janis.smithsonian.american.art.museum.artist_glassThe final event was the JRA hosted dinner on Sunday evening – it was a very busy exciting weekend for the Washington Glass School!4.a.distinguished_artist.james.renwick.alliance.shea.trump.janis_glass_cuddle

Congratulations to Michael – well done and well deserved!

 

Library Of Congress Cast Glass Doors Update

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The Washington Glass Studio created shop drawings for each cast glass panel based on the original sculpture forms from the US Library of Congress Adams Building.
Sean Hennessey and Marie Schneggenburger

The Library of Congress had earlier this year commissioned sculptured glass doors as the famed institution provides much needed upgrades to the entry of the historic building. As mentioned in earlier postings, the Washington Glass Studio has been creating the artwork panels, collaborating with artists and artisans across the United States, from theatrical set designers to pioneers of the American Studio Glass Movement to make artwork worthy of an icon of the United States.

Washington Glass Studio’s Sean Hennessey works with Marie Schneggenburger and Erin Cumbo to take molds from the original bronze doors. After protection to all adjacent surfaces was in place, each the door bronze sculptures were cleaned and prepped for the mold taking process.

Marie Schneggenburger cleans and masks off the original bronze door sculptures.

The original moldings were sprayed with the silicone rubber matrix. The process took place in the summer of 2012, when the East Coast of the US experienced record high temperatures, and some modifications to the silicone process took place, with a step where we brushed on the material to ensure capture of the intricate detail from the originals. The crew started early each morning, to try and minimize their time in the sweltered sun.

The doors are ready for the mold matrix.
Sean Hennessey applies the silicone rubber with what looks like a prop from the movie “Ghostbusters”.

For a short flickr video of the mold-taking process at the Library of Congress doors – click on the arrow below:


After the molds and their “mother mold” material are removed from the doors, they are brought back to the studio for evaluation.

Tahmurath – the Persian hero – had some of the most complex undercuts that required additional molds of the deepest sections.
Detail from Tahmurath bronze sculpture.

The next step of the glass casting process involves one of the early fused glass pioneers – Ray Ahlgren. Ray Ahlgren’s Fireart Glass Studio in Portland, Oregon developed specialized techniques for the final firing of the cast and laminated panels.

Ray Ahlgren

Ray Ahlgren has been working with glass for over 40 years. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Ceramics from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree in Fine Art in glass at the Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to starting Fireart Glass in 1980 he co-founded Bullseye Glass Company. In the early 1970’s the early Bullseye Glass Company made glasses for the stained glass trade. Founders Dan Schwoerer, Ray Ahlgren and Boyce Lundstrom worked on the problems that arose when melting this type of glass together in a kiln.

Ray Ahlgren and Dan Schwoerer in 1973.

That’s when they discovered incompatibility. To be successful, they then had to figure out how to test for it and get rid of it. The product they eventually developed was a glass that would be compatible with other glasses and withstand multiple firings without cracking during the cooling process. Kilnformed glass moved forward and developed glass into a leading sculpture medium. We were fortunate to be able to include Ray’s expertise and insight into the technical aspects, as well as his meticulous craftsmanship.

Using the silicone rubber molds, Ray made wax figures that were set as per the original mold, correcting any imperfections.

Tahmurath wax original is set up and dam for plaster is built around.

Plaster is then poured around the wax sculptures, and carefully brushed into voids to eliminate air pockets.

Ray Ahlgren details the plaster across the wax as Erwin Timmers looks on.
Ray fills the dam and levels the casting block.

After the plaster sets, the wax is removed from the casting mold, creating the void where the glass blanks will be melted into.

Inside the kilns, glass was fired into the plaster molds.
Cast glass panel of “Ogma“.

In November 2012, Erwin Timmers brought the Architect of the Capitol’s Library of Congress team to Fireart Glass studio to see the progress of the castings.

Ray Ahlgren removes a cast glass panel from the kiln.

Ray removes the plaster and explains process to LOC’s Yvonne Gurney.
One of the cast glass panels has the plaster rinsed off for review.
WGS’ Erwin Timmers points out details to Yvonne.
The completed panels were inspected as part of the LOC review.

The Library of Congress project continues on, with site work proceeding through the winter months. Parts of the refurbishment are not cosmetic, including installation of new electronics and security into the historic building. The install of the glass panels will happen in early 2013, and we will post new photos of that process, as well as some great process shots taken at Fireart Glass Studios.