Building a Ray of Light

Our collaboration with artist Brian Corr, PhD to create Anima Lumine, part of the Momentum | Intersection exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art


Glass sculpture by artist, Brian Corr
Anima Lumine by Brian Corr features waterjet cut sheets of Pilkington specialty glass.

Creative Edge enjoys working with artists and designers to fabricate their work in all sorts of challenging mediums. We’ve helped create peacocks from marble, butterflies from pieces of stone, seascapes shaped from terrazzo, and now, ethereal rays of light coaxed from glass.


Our latest collaboration with Brian Corr, PhD is currently on exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art. As summarized on his website, Brian’s body of work explores “perceptual liminality as a means of facilitating contemplative experience.” Brian explained that “his work tries to pull the viewer in deeper – to things that exist beyond our tangible world – using glass as a vehicle for light.”


From reluctant glassblowing student to PhD

Brian’s path to accomplished artist and professor began when he was required to take an art class as a freshman at Hastings College in Nebraska. He chose pottery, but the class was full, so he registered for glassblowing. The physical, team-oriented process appealed to him, and he felt inspired and supported by his teacher, so he persisted. After 20 years honing his craft, he thinks of glassblowing as more than an art. He describes it as a medium for connecting. He is part of a dedicated community of teachers and students supporting each other on an endless learning-curve through regular failure – which makes the periodic successes grander and more exciting. In addition to blown glass as a medium, Brian is also focused on large-scale architectural installations as well as his role as professor at his alma mater, Hastings College.


“Momentum | Intersection” exhibit opens September 2022

A partnership with Pilkington Glass, his latest architectural installation uses specialty glass with an amber/metallic gold coating. His vision involves elliptical shapes cut from panels of glass, each panel curved in a kiln, and arranged relative to each other, relative to the void created by the ellipses, and relative to light sources in such a way that a tangible ray of light emerges. The experience will change throughout the day with shifts in light. The finished work Anima Lumine was installed on a custom pedestal in the Toledo Museum of Art's Glass Pavilion.


The Glass Pavilion, designed by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, Ltd was completed in 2006. The refined and minimalist space is the perfect venue for Brian’s art. The artist comments on his love for Japanese design by describing it as “Quiet but powerful, with stripped-back palettes. There’s a reverence for the material’s connection to the natural world.” Having spent years living in Japan immersed in its art and culture while teaching at the prestigious Toyama City Institute of Glass Art, Japanese architecture sparked his curiosity about the psychological impact of space and fueled his interest in large-scale glass installations as an expansive yet finite component of space.


Waterjet cutting enables an artist’s vision

Artist Brian Corr, PhD drove 6 hours to work with the Creative Edge team on his latest installation.

For some artists, the imperative step after acquiring raw materials and completing sketches is finding a capable waterjet partner. The right waterjet technology and expertise is the critical link between an unrealized idea and a work of art. After repeated failures cutting small scale versions of his design at waterjet operations near his studio in Nebraska, Brian and his wife began researching alternative options. They interviewed several waterjet cutters, attempting to find someone who could successfully cut the expensive full-size glass sheets. Their search led them to the Director of Design Engineering at Creative Edge, Kevin Thornburg. Kevin shared the company’s experience with similar projects including fabrication of glass with circle cut-outs used in neo-natal incubators. Brian’s project was larger in scale, but technically similar, so he carefully loaded the glass into the self-built transport rack on his truck and made the 6-hour drive to Creative Edge in Fairfield, IA.

Brian recalls being “on the sidelines freaking out as the professionals competently did their work.”

Brian had this to say about working with the Creative Edge team. “Everyone was professional and welcoming. They were very interested in my work and listened intently as I described my vision.” After Brian told the Creative Edge team about his not-so-great experience with other waterjet cutters, he concluded “It was clear that Creative Edge was very good at what they do. My project would be no big deal for them.”


To Brian’s surprise, the cutting process went smoothly from the start. He shared “They were so accommodating. They even let me drive my truck onto the plant floor, so I didn’t have to carry the glass.” After Brian’s designs were uploaded into cutting software, the glass was positioned for cutting and secured to the cutting bed. At this point, Brian recalls being “on the sidelines freaking out as the professionals competently did their work.” The entire process took two hours and the result was well worth the 12-hour round trip.


The finished piece

Anima Lunnime by Brian Corr was on exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art September–October 2022. Contrary to his stressful experience crafting this piece, Brian hopes that viewers of his finished work experience “a moment of wonder between feelings of silence and peace. “


About Brian Corr (learn more at briancorrglass.com):

Brian was recently awarded a PhD from the Australian National University. His research examined the aesthetic and philosophical elements of contemplative space in Japanese architecture. His work is held in numerous public and private collections throughout the world, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Toledo Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum.


Brian is also a skilled glassblower with over twenty years of experience. He has taught extensively at schools including the Corning Museum of Glass, the Penland School of Crafts, the Pilchuck Glass School, the JamFactory, Namseoul University, Sydney College of the Arts, and the Australian National University.


After working and studying in Australia for nearly twelve years, Brian recently served as an Associate Professor at the prestigious Toyama City Institute of Glass Art in Toyama, Japan. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska.


Creative Edge enjoys working with artists and designers to fabricate their work in all sorts of challenging mediums. We’ve helped create peacocks from marble, butterflies from pieces of stone, seascapes shaped from terrazzo, and now, ethereal rays of light coaxed from glass.

 

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