Jump through the Glass … into the Glory of Radiant Light

Confronting the Raw Beauty and Timeless Mysteries of Glass and Light

As a visual artist, I am very conscious of the physical world around me. Working with glass opens creative windows into amazing spaces of light and color. You have the miraculous experience of seeing glass and often looking through it. You also have the unique experience of touching the glass, and feeling both its strength and fragility.

In addition to raw beauty and timeless mystery, glass offers a relevant metaphor for our lives as artists and citizens. It is strong and it is weak; it is delicate and it is bold. A large glass sculpture such as Flying Sheets of Paper is lovely and frightening at the same time. You can say that all art should be beautiful and scary, but when you create large sculptures in glass, the fear factor is inescapable.

Glass is not an ordinary substance. We learn in school that glass is a “supercooled liquid,” but real scientists will tell you that glass is neither fully solid nor fully liquid. From a scientific perspective, glass exists in a state of ambiguity. We unconsciously sense that ambiguity — and the physical danger it presents — whenever we are near glass.

For an artist, the danger of glass creates new dimension for exploration. In addition to sculpting from glass, I use it in all kinds of unexpected places: floors, ceilings, stairs and building facades. I use glass with a sense of humor to create playful spaces and unexpected experiences that delight, surprise and amuse us.

The ability of glass to tell stories and inspire the imagination is what makes it a highly valuable medium for creating positive experiences and good vibes in modern cities. In cities, there is always the possibility of danger. Glass reminds us that danger is also a spice that enlivens, emboldens and inspires us. Like a good roller coaster ride at an amusement park or a scary movie in a theater, glass makes us smile by exposing hidden dimensions of our emotional lives.

Yes, from my perspective, the very fragility of glass gives it great power. It’s more than a metaphor; it’s a companion and a friend. As we move through our often difficult lives, glass reminds us that it’s okay to laugh at power, because power is illusory. Through glass, we see the world in different ways. As human beings, that’s part of our job — always looking at the world through fresh eyes. Glass is our shared medium for gazing at the universe around us and always seeing something new.

You can watch a video of Flying Sheets of Paper, a collaborative effort with Finland’s top glass manufacturer Glaston Corporation, and other major firms including Saas Instrumentti and Schott. Please enjoy the video.

About the Author

Meeli Koiva (Mery Crystal Ra) is a globally renowned, award-winning curator / multimedia- light-glass artist/ film maker and innovator. She’s one of the winners of the 2013 and 2014 Light In the City / Northern Light, European light artists competition. Invited speaker and artist at the UNESCO International Year of Light closing ceremony in 2016, she has been an innovator and a visionary in the field of light and glass art for the past 30 years. She is considered a trailblazer and source of influence in the light art movement, reshaping the space and surface of structures. A pioneer in combining glass and light to create extraordinary works of art, she creates highly imaginative and novel pieces in Europe and in the US for private residences and public buildings. Her innovative interactive glass-light-video sculptures were created for the UNESCO International Year of Light closing ceremony in 2016, European Parliament main building exhibition in Brussels, Belgium in 2006 and Glaston Corporation in 2006. She is a presenter and keynote speaker, making presentations at universities, seminars and conferences globally. She is creative director at Crystal Energy Ltd. in Helsinki, New York and Paris.

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