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Corning Museum of Glass Unveils 2008 Rakow Commission by Zora Palová
2008 Rakow Commission: North Sea Waves by Slovak artist Zora Palová.

CORNING, NY.- The Corning Museum of Glass has unveiled its 2008 Rakow Commission: North Sea Waves by Slovak artist Zora Palová. The large, cast glass sculpture, now on display in the Museum’s Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family Gallery of Contemporary Glass, evokes the mystery and power of the North Sea, which Palová observed while teaching at the University of Sunderland in England.

“In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, we don’t have seas,” Palová explains. “I didn’t know how to express the feeling of the sea and the air surrounding it.”

Palová is inspired by the idea of water and its expression in glass. Her interpretation of the cold and unpredictable sea is strong, emotional, and gestural: North Sea Waves is a massive sculpture that combines thick slabs with fragile, undulating edges. The modulated color reflects the range of grays found in the water and sky on North Sea shores.

“There are many reasons why the Museum chose Zora Palová for the 2008 Rakow Commission,” says Tina Oldknow, curator of modern glass at The Corning Museum of Glass. “Over the past five years, her sculptures have developed in concept and scale, and her exhibitions and teaching have brought attention to artists working in glass in Slovakia, who are not as well known or as numerous as artists in the Czech Republic.

Palová’s approach to cast glass sculpture is perhaps characteristic of her generation, which draws from—and breaks with—the ideas developed by the famous Czechoslovak artists of the postwar era, such as Vaclav Cigler, Stanislav Libenský, and Jaroslava Brychtová.”

Palová studied painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava from 1969 to 1971. In 1971, she moved to the Academy’s department of Glass in Architecture, where she continued her studies until 1975 with the well-known Czech glass sculptor Václav Cigler. After 20 years of working independently while she raised a family, she was appointed in 1996 as a research professor, teaching glass sculpture at the University of Sunderland in England. In 2003, she left full-time teaching to devote herself to her sculptural work, which includes individual objects as well as architectural commissions. Palová makes her work with the assistance of her husband, the Slovak sculptor Štěpán Pala, who is internationally known for his large-scale works in cast glass.

Inaugurated in 1986, the Rakow Commission supports new works of art in glass by encouraging artists to venture into new areas that they might otherwise be unable to explore because of financial limitations. Each commissioned work is added to the Museum’s collection and is displayed publicly for the first time during the Museum’s annual Seminar. Palová’s North Sea Waves was unveiled October 17, 2008, following a public lecture by the artist (which will be available for view on the Museum’s website,, after November 5, 2008.)

Each year the Museum awards the Rakow Commission to an emerging or established artist working in glass. Currently, the commission is awarded to professional artists whose work is not yet represented in the Museum’s collection. It is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr. and Mrs. Leonard S. Rakow, Fellows, friends, and benefactors of the Museum.

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