The Racine Art Museum (RAM) is pleased to debut a grouping of four glass sculptures created in the 1980s and 1990s by Dale Chihuly, Harvey K. Littleton, and Joel Philip Myers. RAM thanks long-term donors Donald and Carol Wiiken for these four sculptures, which join 57 other glass pieces they have contributed throughout the years. The Wiikens have been presenting the museum with gifts from their personal glass collection on a regular basis since 1994.
Dale Chihuly, Soft Cylinder, 1983, Glass
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Donald and Carol Wiiken
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine
RAM's contemporary glass collection begins with examples from the early years of the Studio Glass Movement in the 1960s and continues through the present. Littleton is recognized as a master of this field because of his early explorations that led to the creation of smaller furnaces in which individual artists could work. He is also highly regarded for his long career as a teacher. Bended Combo Form
, 1983, is an example of his series of sculptures that investigated the loop form. It joins nine other Littleton works already in RAM's collection from 1969 through 1987.
Joel Philip Myers also spent much of his career as a university teacher, balancing teaching with substantial work in his studio. In this gift, Myers is represented by two works, Blue Vessel with Multicolored Shards, 1982, and Kaleidoscope Green, 1991. They join 12 examples of the artist's work already in RAM's collection representing Myers' career from 1972 through 1991. Both works document his experimentations with large vessel forms and ways of decorating their surfaces with collage-like glass inclusions and surface treatments applied to the cooled glass, including the use of acid etching and sandblasting to achieve texture.
Soft Cylinder, 1983, by Dale Chihuly joins a number of his works already at RAM. The museum owns 22 examples of his works from 1965 through 2004, including 17 works in glass and five works on paper. The structure of this sculpture suggests a cylindrical form that is slowly collapsing in upon itself. This piece is part of Chihuly's long-term work in depicting cylinders and basket-like forms in states of change and collapse, or in nested groupings.
"We are extremely grateful to the Wiikens for this generous gift. It greatly amplifies the documentation we are creating in RAM's collection for the bodies of work of these three masters of the glass medium," said Bruce W. Pepich, RAM's Executive Director and Curator of Collections. He added, "The Wiikens have been dedicated supporters of the glass medium for decades. After acquiring a collection representing most of the important masters from around the world, they have proceeded to contribute portions of their collection to museums across the US. We are proud and delighted to be part of this group of fortunate institutions."
RAM currently has the largest contemporary crafts collection of any art museum in the US. The museum collects American and non-American artists working in clay, fiber, glass, metal, polymer, and wood-both functional objects and sculptural pieces. RAM represents major figures in the field by collecting pieces from throughout their careers in an effort to demonstrate how these artists' careers developed and matured over time. This process also details how themes and ideas are selected, worked through, abandoned, and revisited over an extended period of time in a studio practice. RAM's goal in collecting in this manner is to capture, for its viewers, an idea of the statements these artists made with their entire bodies of work while providing a glimpse into their thought processes.