Tonawanda News

The City

May 16, 2013

The colors of teamwork

Tonawanda art students turn visit to Corning Museum of Glass into Chihuly-inspired sculpture

Tonawanda News — For years, eighth-graders at the City of Tonawanda Middle/High School have embarked upon an annual road trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, taking away their own forms of inspiration, education and culture.

This year, they took away something a little bit bigger: The seeds for one massive — and very colorful — work of art.

The 29 eighth-grade students visited the museum in early April, said teacher Daniel Lynch. Before the trip, they’d already studied glass sculptor Dale Chihuly and his artwork — and started working on a piece inspired by  him — but while at the museum, the group learned that Chihuly himself had been there only weeks before them. The artist, deeming his “Fern Green Tower” piece at the site too small, had his team dissemble and reassemble the glass artwork with additional pieces, increasing it from 11 to 15 1/2 feet tall with an additional 200 blown-glass elements. 

The student saw the newly reassembled artwork, viewed photos of how the task was accomplished and returned to the school determined to do the same with their own chandelier-inspired piece of artwork, Lynch said. 

“It was kind of funny, because when we got back, I could see them looking at it and thinking, ‘Ours isn’t big enough,’ “ he said. “It gave us an opportunity to research (Chihuly) further and what he did at Corning.”

The Tonawanda project doesn’t reach 15 1/2 feet, and it’s not glass ... but it’s earned a nod on the Corning Museum of Glass’ blog nonetheless. Students, trying to evoke the blown-glass shapes for which Chihuly’s work is famous, created individual pieces for it out of plastic bottles and acrylic paint of varying strengths, cut into spirals that were gradually added to an inner form of wire. The final work includes more than 150 pieces in nearly as many shades of color.

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