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While glass as an artistic medium can be traced to Roman times, glass artists have emerged from industrial factories and into artists' studios in revolutionary numbers during the last 30 years.
Many artists favor glass because of its versatility. "It lends itself to endless possibilities of manipulation and transformation," said Peter Houk, an artist who teaches glass-blowing at the MIT Glass Lab in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. "It can be opaque, or almost perfectly transparent; polished smooth or cracked, jagged, and bumpy; flat or undulating in space. Visually it is complex in its interaction with ever-changing conditions of light."
The 26th annual Glass Arts Society (GAS) Conference will take place at various sites in Boston and Cambridge-including MIT-from June 6-9. Professor Michael J. Cima of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, whose enthusiasm for the craft led to the establishment of the Glass Lab in 1989, noted that the MIT venue for the GAS conference is "a symbol of the increasingly important ties between art, technology and design."
Glass: Linking Art and Science, an exhibition featuring the work of the country's foremost contemporary glass artists, has been mounted in the MIT Museum's Compton Gallery in conjunction with the conference. The work exhibited in this show ranges from Mark Lorenzi's tuning forks entombed in glass to Therese Lahaie's six-foot glass wave. Other artists represented include Page Hazlegrove, Mr. Houk, Susan Holland, David Jones, Maria Porges, Jack Wax and Harumi Yukutake. A public reception for the artists will be held in the gallery on Saturday, June 8, from 3-4:30pm.
Ms. Hazlegrove, director of the MIT Glass Lab and site chairman of the conference, hopes that the exhibition and associated lectures will "inspire individuals to explore the Glass Lab and awaken an appreciation of the medium as creators, collectors or aficionados." The Glass Lab offers non-credit classes in glass-blowing, taught by Ms. Hazlegrove, Mr. Houk and advanced students from the Massachusetts College of Art to all members of the MIT community. Class schedules are posted on the doors of the lab (Rm 4-003). Student sales are held twice a year in Lobby 10. For more information, call x3-5309.
LECTURES AND PRESENTATIONS
Coinciding with this year's Technology Day on Saturday, June 8 - "Miracle or Mirage: Technology at the Horizon"-the Glass Lab has organized a series of lectures that will showcase the work of MIT researchers whose work has implications for glass artists.
Professor Walter Lewin of physics, aided by several MIT musicians, will give a lecture demonstration titled "The Feast of Sounds Orchestra," at 1:30pm in Rm 26-100. The physical properties of sound will be examined using strings, sound cavities and a strobe light, as will the concept of resonance and its potentially destructive power as evidenced in attempts to break a wine glass using sound.
Presentations by other MIT researchers will take place from 10:30am-1:15pm in Rm 10-250. Members of the MIT community are welcome to attend these lectures free of charge on a space-available basis. Professor Cima will present "Three-Dimensional Printing and Computerized Mold-making"; Center for Advanced Visual Studies alumna Betsy Connors, a lecturer in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences, will give a presentation on holography; and Ken Kao, lecturer in architecture at Harvard's Graduate School of Design who, with his partner, MIT Assistant Professor of Architecture Wellington Reiter, has used glass in public installations, will speak on "Innovative Uses of Glass in Architecture."
An international non-profit organization, the GAS was founded in 1971 to encourage the excellence, appreciation and development of glass arts worldwide. The Society's goal is to stimulate communication among artists, scientists, educators, students and designers about the study of form and composition in glass. Other lectures and demonstrations associated with the GAS conference will take place at Massachusetts College of Art and at the Harvard University Peabody Museum collection of the Blaschka Glass Flowers. For further information on the conference, call Ms. Hazlegrove at 329-7698.
Glass: Linking Art and Science runs through August 2. The MIT Museum's Compton Gallery is open 9-5pm, Monday-Friday. Admission is free. For further information, call the exhibition hotline at x3-4444.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 5, 1996.