CORNING, NY.- The Corning Museum of Glass
unveiled its 2012 Rakow Commission work: Flower Block by Danish artist Steffen Dam. The artists most ambitious work to date, Flower Block is a grouping of 24 glass blocks in the style of his well-known series of glass panels, each containing the artists interpretation of parts of a flower.
Dams glass blocks, panels and jars invoke fossilized biological and botanical slides used in scientific research - but the function of the ambiguous specimens trapped in glass is aesthetic, not scholarly. The artist learned about the natural world from his paternal grandfather, whose library was filled with illustrated volumes on biology, natural sciences, and flora and fauna. Dams initial training as a toolmaker is obvious in the refined craftsmanship of his cut, drilled and polished glass works.
Dams work is very much about the exploration of process and material, says Tina Oldknow, curator of modern glass at the Museum. His work is a great fit for our collection which spans the full history of glassmaking. It relates to the history of botanical-inspired expressions in glass, but its also very contemporary.
Dams sculptures have been compared to the lampworked flowers and sea creatures of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka and the naturalist drawings of Ernst Haeckel. However, unlike these well-known figures of science, Dams work does not imitate the natural world. He creates his specimens in his jars and cabinets of curiosity from memory; embracing spontaneity and unexpected results. As Dam says, My cylinders contain nothing that exists in the ocean, my specimens are plausible but not from this world, my plants are only to be found in my compost heap, and my flowers are still unnamed.
Dams work is found in public and private collections throughout the world, including the Glasmuseet, Ebeltoft, Denmark; the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany; Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY; the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA; Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT; The Anneberg Collections, Nykøbing, Denmark; The Danish Arts Foundation, Denmark; The Danish Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen, Denmark; and The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway. His awards include The Crafts Prize of 1879 awarded in 1995, The Ole Haslund Art Prize awarded in 1996, and The Hempel Glass Prize awarded in 2002.