Tuesday, April 23, 2024

International Year of Glass, welcome to The Glass City

Why Glass?

The United Nations designated 2022 as the International Year of Glass, celebrating the essential role glass has in society. The February opening ceremony, in Geneva, Switzerland, featured 30 speakers. 

With the unrivaled versatility and technical capabilities of glass, these talks highlighted the influence it has had on art and in history, as well as how glass can foster the development of more just and sustainable societies. Speakers also covered scientific and technical breakthroughs (such as in clean energy, glass optical fibers, bioglass, and recycling), and how they affect our lives. For example, without glass optics and optoelectronics, we wouldn’t have the James Webb telescope giving us new and unparalleled views of the universe. 

Together We Soar

Toledo’s own tribute to The Year of Glass is Together We Soar, an art glass mosaic installation of 15 butterflies, each floating above the center court skylight at the Franklin Park Mall. The mosaics will be installed over the weekend of October 26, and will have a community dedication on November 5. 

The entire installation will weigh about 600 pounds. The largest of the butterflies has a wingspan of 7 feet, and the smallest has a wingspan of 2 feet. Each of the butterfly species depicted is native to the Toledo area. Butterflies were chosen because of their dramatic visual impact, as well as the ties to the area.

Meet the Artist

Gail Christofferson is the artist behind Together We Soar, as well as murals in schools, libraries, hospitals, corporate lobbies, court houses, and outdoor murals. Although she has a degree in Visual Communications and marketing from BGSU, she is self-taught as an artist, working in her medium for over a decade. 

To see more of Christofferson’s work, check out the Toledo City Paper building at 1120 Adams St. Her mural, Shattering Stigma, endeavors to reduce the stigma of mental illness. The collection of portraits includes two famous faces: Abraham Lincoln and Vincent Van Gogh, both of whom suffered from mental illness. The other faces include images inspired by self-portraits of individuals involved in the Zepf Center’s Expressive Art Program.

When asked what most surprises people about her work, Christofferson replied, “That I continue to explore new ways to create with mosaic glass. My body of work has grown over the last decade to feature unique large-scale installations across the country. My early work was much smaller scale and has transformed into exciting installations like this one.”

A Piece of Toledo

As The Glass City, our substantial history of glass manufacturing– it’s been almost a hundred and fifty years since the first glassmakers arrived here– makes us a natural showcase for the International Year of Glass. Local artist Gail Christofferson’s extensive and magnificent work in this medium makes her a natural choice to help us recognize it. Together We Soar, with its juxtaposition of ethereal butterflies and fragile yet durable glass, will be a worthy tribute for years to come. 

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