Rising from the earth in a red and orange burst, a flame captured in glass hovers above 16 multicolored circles. A careful viewer might notice that the circles blend smoothly from green to blue to purple, each circle a unique series of lines, dots, waves and splashes.
While the piece doesn’t have a name, it has a special meaning to the students and staff of the Memorial Union Craft Center at Oregon State University. Cheryl Barclay and Sally Ishikawa, both OSU employees, designed the piece, which now hangs at the entrance of the center. The work itself was created with kiln-formed glass by students in the ‘Continuing Glass Group’ at the Craft Center, a class of intermediate to advanced glass students, mainly community members and current and former OSU faculty and staff.
“Each artist was given a circle to create,” said Craft Center manager Susan Bourque. “The theme was a flame coming up from the earth, and the circles represent forms on the earth, water, flora, fauna and so on.”
Because flame is essential to the creation of kiln-formed glass, the form of a flame was symbolic as it was the element they wrestled with to create the piece.
“Flame is a part of the whole process,” Bourque said.
Instructor Nena Bement created the flame portion of the piece, as well as the black pieces that solidify the installation. When it was completed, MU Building Services welded a metal framework to hang the piece, training a student in welding during the process. Finally the Craft Center had to consult with an engineering firm to insure the 150-plus pound project would be secure and stable on the exterior brick wall of the center.
Bourque is especially proud of the collaborative nature of the piece, which is representative of the Craft Center as a whole. Many community members who aren’t otherwise affiliated with the university regularly attend classes at the center, and in doing so they have a positive association with OSU, and directly benefit the center as well.
“The community members give back so much,” she said. “We’d struggle to make ends meet without opening the center up to the community. In our end of class evaluations, many say that this is their only connection to the university. This place is such a part of their creative spirit and heart.”
The next big step for the Craft Center will be relocating to the new Student Experience Center, which will be under construction beginning this summer. Bourque said the glass installation is designed to be removable so it can travel to their new location in the basement of the SEC as soon as they move.
~ Theresa Hogue