2020 Rakow Commissioin: Anjali Srinivasan named recipient of the 35th Rakow Commission
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2020 Rakow Commissioin: Anjali Srinivasan named recipient of the 35th Rakow Commission
Srinivasan’s work, titled साँस {Saans} eyes of the skin سانس ({Saans}) is a large wall of broken glass mirror that senses the presence of its viewers, acknowledging them by moving in a way that subtly mimics their breathing.

CORNING, NY.- The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) has named Boston-based artist Anjali Srinivasan (b. 1978, Chennai, India) the recipient of the 35th Rakow Commission. The prestigious award supports the creation of a new work in glass by an artist whose work pushes the boundaries of the material and who is not yet represented in CMoG’s permanent collection. Srinivasan’s work, titled साँस {Saans} eyes of the skin سانس ({Saans}) is a large wall of broken glass mirror that senses the presence of its viewers, acknowledging them by moving in a way that subtly mimics their breathing.

Six feet tall and four feet wide, {Saans} has a skin of mirrored glass that looks as if it has been battered. Radial impact cracks spread through the surface, breaking the glass into thousands of tiny shards. Because they are made of blown glass, each shard is slightly curved, creating thousands of convex mirrors that break and miniaturize the viewer’s reflection. The viewer almost disappears when standing still in front of the piece, while the curved mirrors amplify every small motion.

The dazzling optical effect mimics and is inspired by the artist’s deep research into the historical sheesh mahal, or mirror palaces, located in India and Pakistan. The piece comments on the impacts of history and time on craft, on the world at large, and on the human experience—while simultaneously conveying the artist’s message about each individual’s agency to change their environment. “A person who gestures,” Srinivasan says, “who acts upon something even in dark circumstances, transforms everything around them. They affect change. A human being should act, and be moved.”

{Saans} is inspired by Srinivasan’s sense of loss upon discovering that the sheesh mahal she remembered visiting as a child were falling into disrepair. Built by the Mughals in the 16th and 17th centuries and covered in ornate mirrored mosaics, the sheesh mahal had been maintained for centuries by nomadic tribes of glass craftsman. Following the devastation of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, the craftsmen were assimilated into other parts of society, leaving these majestic architectural phenomena to age and deteriorate.

Struck by how easily culturally significant works—and the people that made them—could be forgotten, Srinivasan embarked on a series inspired by the sheesh mahal. Rather than memorials to what was lost, her work seeks to connect visitors with the essence of the sheesh mahal—its meaning, its history, and its particular feeling of being immersed in reflection.

{Saans} is the most ambitious work in the series to date, amplifying the essence of the sheesh mahal by embedding broken glass shards in a skin of silicone. As a viewer stands in front of the work, sensors activate a mechanism within causing the mirror-covered silicone to subtly distend, matching the viewer’s breaths with its own respiration. Over time, the silicone skin will age, just like the original buildings are aging, and small pieces of mirror will fall around it.

“Commissioned in January 2020, the piece was subject to every COVID-delay imaginable, from the challenges of blowing glass during a respiratory pandemic to global supply chain issues, chip shortages, new variants, and more. In the context of the pandemic, which made so many of us feel small, disconnected, and powerless, {Saans} has taken on even more resonance,” says Susie J. Silbert, curator of postwar and contemporary glass. “It reminds us—in each glittering respiration—of our essential humanity and our ability to affect change in the world around us. It is a powerful, healing message and an absolutely magical piece to boot. I’m thrilled that people will finally be able to see and interact with it.”

On Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 6:30 pm EST, CMoG will host a Connected by Glass lecture by the artist Srinivasan, followed by a preview of a CMoG-produced video of the making of the commissioned work, and the public reveal of {Saans} in the galleries. The lecture will be livestreamed and available to global audiences, who will be able to engage with the artist via the event chat. Interested individuals can register for the livestreamed event here. The in-person lecture is free and open to the public.

Anjali Srinivasan (Indian, b. 1978, Chennai) is a Massachusetts-based artist, educator, and entrepreneur who has continually pushed the boundaries of the material of glass. Her work, in a variety of different media and formats, is designed to expand notions of what glass can be and for whom. She has an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, a BFA Cum Laude from Alfred University in New York and studied Accessories Design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award (2016), the Irwin Borowsky International Prize in the Glass Arts (2017) and the Jutta Cuny-Franz Memorial Award (2017), amongst many others. Since 2017 she has lived in Boston, Massachusetts, where she teaches at Massachusetts College of Art (MassArt) and maintains her studio in Bangalore from afar.

Rakow Commission
Inaugurated in 1986, the Rakow Commission is awarded annually to artists whose work is not yet represented in the Museum’s collection. The Commission supports new works of art in glass by encouraging emerging or established artists to venture into new areas that they might otherwise be unable to explore because of financial limitations. It is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr. and Mrs. Leonard S. Rakow, Fellows, friends, and benefactors of the Museum. Each commissioned work is added to the Museum’s permanent collection and goes on view in Museum’s galleries.

The Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) is the foremost authority on the art, history, and science of glass. It is home to the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. Live glassblowing demonstrations (offered at the Museum and on the road) bring the material to life, and Museum visitors can try their hand at making glass through daily Make Your Own Glass experiences. The campus in Corning, NY includes a year-round, state-of-the-art glassmaking school—The Studio—and the Rakow Research Library, with the world’s preeminent collection of materials on the art and history of glass. Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State, the Museum is open daily, year-round. Kids and teens 17 and under enjoy free admission.

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2020 Rakow Commissioin: Anjali Srinivasan named recipient of the 35th Rakow Commission

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