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Variations and Mutations art glass exhibit visits UA-PTC

Variations and Mutations art glass exhibit visits UA-PTC

May 23, 2022

“Variations and Mutations,” an exhibition of the blown glass art of Ed Pennebaker, will be on display at UA-PTC Windgate Gallery May 20 – June 30, at The Center for Humanities and Arts (CHARTS) at UA - Pulaski Tech.

Enjoy a virtual tour at this link: uaptc.edu/variations-and-mutations

Ed Pennebaker is owner/artist at Red Fern Glass. He started making glass in 1981 in Kansas. He blew glass at Hale Farm & Village in Ohio from 1983-85. Red Fern Glass was established in 1985 in Salem, Arkansas and has been located in Clinton, Arkansas since 2018.

“I have always believed in working incessantly, cultivating concepts, distinctions, and techniques,” Pennebaker explains. “Attempting to move forward over time to improve means there will be variations and mutations as one works, whether the work progresses or not.

“The chandeliers evolved from clusters of small ornaments to larger pieces and from unlit to including lighting within. Various styles were developed beginning with melon shaped pieces then long curly forms with knobs on the end, to pointed ‘curlies,’ and finally to ‘Ensiforms.’ Ensiforms are the flattened wavy parts and the name comes from the horticultural term which means ‘sword-like.’ Other variations include color added to the tips of the pointed shapes and some pieces that are long straight forms instead of curled. “My reaction to the unpredictable events of Covid has been to make work that I have never made before. Starting with melting a glass that is unpredictable. Chalcedony glass is a recipe with silver and other metals. Very slight changes in the recipe make the color react differently. The process of making the pieces, manipulating the glass, cooling, reheating, and even the annealing process all effect the colors produced. It is the perfect example of doing the same thing over and over again but getting (and expecting) different results.”

Pennebaker is most well-known for his custom sculptural lighting made with blown glass elements. These chandeliers have been installed in in public places and private residences in most states in the U.S. and in Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Brazil, Russia, China, Canada, and Mexico. Ed also makes mixed media, minimal, environmental sculptures which are statements about pollution, climate change, and political concerns.

Pennebaker has made a lot of Christmas ornaments in over 35 years of being a glass artist. "The chandeliers evolved out of making so many glass ornaments," he explained. In fact, the metal armatures, which he builds, that support his chandeliers are designed much like a minimalist Christmas tree. They have rings that Pennebaker hangs each glass piece to by hand, following cleverly coded plans to create the appearance of a floating mass of different colors, forms, and textures. The largest chandelier in Variations and Mutations has 356 individual glass pieces that were hung one-at-a-time by the artist. "I make a lot of glass pieces to be able to put these together," said Pennebaker. Over time he's found certain color combinations and forms that are more popular with people who buy his chandeliers. He's shipped chandeliers to customers as far as China and Russia.

Windgate Gallery summer hours are 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; closed weekends. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Kurt Leftwich, CHARTS Programming and Box Office Coordinator at [email protected] or call (501) 812-2831.

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