Client: Princeton University Art Museum
Location: Princeton, NJ, United States
Completion date: 2015
Artwork budget: $1,000,000
Doug and Mike Starn
Foley Buhl Roberts & Associates
Michael C. Mayer, Managing Director
Franz Mayer of Munich
(any) Body Oddly Propped, by Doug and Mike Starn, was commissioned for the plaza of the Princeton Art Museum. The site-specific glass, steel and bronze sculpture, consisting of six eighteen foot high panels and weighing almost 8 tons, strongly relates to the university’s arboreal landscape. This colorful glass and steel three-dimensional installation, evocative of the walls of an outdoor stained-glass chapel modestly propped together, is the second glass piece the artists have created with Franz Mayer of Munich; the first, See it Split, See It Change, is permanently installed in the MTA’s South Ferry station.
The goal was to produce a multi-paneled glass structure suggestive of light filtering through trees. The artists envisioned rich colors and textured surfaces more expressive and rugged than machine made glass. To achieve this effect, there is a combination of traditional stained glass painting and new techniques that use the same essential chemical processes of ceramic melting colors of powdered glass and mineral pigments along with acid etching. The overlapping arborescent imagery, changes in color and reflections on the variously angled glass, effect your experience as you walk past or through and amongst the sculpture. Perceptual shifts happen throughout the day as the sun's position changes, at night it is illuminated by the museum. The installation is, in part, inspired by Picasso's concrete sculptures -- two-dimensional images made sculptural by adding strategic folds; These glass artwork panels are propped against another, others lean against metal supports in the form of tree branches, creating a sense of vitality and playfulness.
Each panel has several layers of glass, with unique treatments to each side. Mouth blown glass and handmade flashed glass were used to achieve vivid color and surface texture. Techniques employed include acid etched with overlay color, digital and painting processes and multiple firings facilitate lamination and ensure strength and durability. A true collaborative spirit existed between the artists and the studio at all stages of the process.
Doug and Mike Starn have collaborated to create some of the most significant works of public art in a generation, and this new piece is expressive and purely beautiful, inviting visitors to linger amidst the sculpture and experience it under constantly shifting light conditions, said James Steward, the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger, Director of the Princeton University Art Museum. This new work represents a thrilling direction in Doug and Mike's work and deepens the visual experience of this gorgeous campus.