Water and Glass in House of Sweden
|Ingalena Klenell’s glass postcard hangs against the windows of the House of Sweden until May|
What a coincidence to finish writing the last blog — about window art and glass — and then receive an invitation to the opening of a glass art exhibition at the beautiful House of Sweden. Washington’s Swedish Embassy is a beautiful building because it celebrates the water, with water flowing down its front entrance. Also a portion of the building cantilevers over the water. It’s in the eastern part of Georgetown, not quite on the Potomac, but overlooking it.
|A postcard on glass intermingles with reflections
and views of the Potomac, from inside the
House of Sweden, Washington, DC
The display brings together images of the Nordic lands, waters and forests with the flowing panorama of the Potomac River. The centerpiece of the current showings is Homeland, works of glass by Ingalena Klenell, a noted glass artist from Sweden. Her work has been shown at Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington and the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. However, there’s a great advantage to displaying some of the works at the House of Sweden. A series of large glass postcards are put up against the windows. We see them as relate to their setting, surrounded by the waters of the Potomac and with openings for the pedestrians to weave in and out of the holes.
Klenell made the postcards from realistic photographs that have been transferred to glass. The glass windows, though, have holes in them to evoke the fact that memories are incomplete and imperfect. The artist believes in the importance of connection to place and emphasizes these links. Therefore, the largest glass installation is a mirrored reflection that evokes the place of display, the rapidly flowing waters of Washington’s Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay region.
Artist Ingalena Klenell is from the province of Varmland, a region of in the middle of the country that is the focus of the Embassy’s current promotion and display. We see her installation along with displays of regional storytelling, some of the beautiful fabrics of the region, and a historical home celebrating its 250th aniversay.
|Table glass to celebrate the 250th birthday of the Baroque
von Echstedtska Manor in Varmland, made by
Krenell made a table display with gorgeous place settings of glass to celebrate the birthday of the home being referenced, the von Echstedtska Manor, a masterpiece of the Baroque style. Her precision and attention to detail show in the roses, horses and swans on the table. She uses a mixture of glass techniques such as hot casting, kiln-forming and kiln casting.
Of her work, Klenell has said that there is a brittleness and a vulnerability of the glass medium. These qualities combine with light as the source of inspiration and are intimately intertwined with the search of what is central in the human condition. (Information taken from European Glass Context 2012 website, an exhibit of the best in European glass, in Bornholm)
|Centerpiece of the Birthday table celebration
by Klenell at House of Sweden
Certainly Sweden has a rich tradition of beautiful glass. I think of the wonderful glass products produced by Orrfors and Kosta Boda, which originate in Sweden. Everywhere in the exhibition, it’s clear that Klenell was inspired by her landscape, the tall firs, pines and birch trees but also the snow and the icicles. Her art is at the intersection of folk art, decorative arts, craft and the avant-garde art of today.
The beauty of icicles especially is difficult to replicate and even the finest of artists struggle to capture the beauty of nature. Ingalena Klenell succeeds. I only wish I had seen the huge glass forests that were on display in Tacoma, the Figge Museum in Davenport and Minneapolis.