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Washington Glass School Inaugurates Glass and Steel Sculpture at New Laurel Library

Washington Glass Studio sculpture at the new Laurel Library.

Washington Glass Studio sculpture at the new Laurel Library. Photo by Pete Duvall.

The Washington Glass Studio (WGS) recently completed installation of a community-based site specific public art commission for the Maryland’s new Prince George’s County Laurel Library. The new building was designed by Grimm + Parker Architects, with the grand opening of the new library scheduled for November 28, 2016. Features of the spectacular new library include an inset floor area in the children’s section where kids will get to peer at a replica velociraptor skeleton through the glass floor. Just a few miles away from the library site is Dinosaur Park, where scientists work to excavate fossils from the early Cretaceous period. Dinosaur imagery was also included as a theme running through the glass artwork panels.

WGS design proposal sketch

WGS design proposal sketch.

WGS was awarded the commission to make the outdoor sculpture at the front of the new library by Maryland’s Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC). The Art in Public Places Program RFQ sought artwork that would provide world class artwork for Prince George’s County residents and visitors. 

WGS proposal for the project was a 17 foot-high, internally illuminated glass and steel sculpture that incorporates glass panels made by residents and stakeholders of the Laurel, MD community. The engineering of the steel framework involved detailed analysis of the structure and its components. WGS worked with structural engineer Holbert Apple to ensure the integrity of the design.

Over 100 glass inset panels were made during the series of workshops held at the Washington Glass School.

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer.

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer. Photo by Lisa Philip/Baltimore Sun

The artwork’s title “Involve Me and I Learn”  is based on a phrase attributed to US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (who also opened the first US public library). The name references the engagement of the community. The neighborhood and the Laurel Library supporters had joined in making the individual glass panels in workshops at the Washington Glass School.

The resulting variations in each tile’s imagery and technique embody the artist’s concept in bringing the people from the diverse community together to create a cohesive and vibrant sculpture. 

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Photo by Pete Duvall

The artwork’s internally illuminated kiln-formed glass panels express the personality and the individuality of everyone involved in the project.

Project  Information

Artist: Washington Glass Studio 

Design Team: Laurie Brown, Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson. With Josh Hershman and Pierre Browning.

Structural Engineer : Holbert Apple Assoc Inc 

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Photo by Pete Duvall

 

Laurel Library
507 7th Street, Laurel, MD 20707

The new Laurel Library also features public art by Martha Jackson Jarvis.

Michael Janis
Authored by: Michael Janis

Michael Janis developed a focus on glass after working for twenty years as an architect in the United States and Australia. Now as Co-Director of the Washington Glass School, Janis has taught at the UK’s National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland, Penland School of Crafts, California’s Bay Area Glass Institute, Hot Glass Houston, and The Glass Furnace (Istanbul, Turkey). Awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2012, he became an Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for International Research in Glass (IIRG) at the University of Sunderland. Janis’ artwork has been shown at major galleries and international art fairs and is included in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2011, Janis had a solo exhibition of his artwork at the Fuller Craft Museum (Massachusetts), and was named a “Rising Star” by the Creative Glass Center of America. The James Renwick Alliance named him "Distinguished Artist 2013/2014 and had him present his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Janis was awarded the prestigious Mayor's Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2016. Janis is also editor the Washington Glass School blog.