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Washington Glass Studio Creates DC's Newest Public Art East of the River

DC Ward 7 Green Community Arch sculpture located at the new Unity Healthcare Building.

DC Ward 7 Green Community Arch sculpture located at the new Unity Healthcare Building.

One of the Washington Glass Studio’s most ambitious public art projects has just completed installation. The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities commissioned the sculpture for the new Unity Healthcare facility in Washington, DC, and the glass-and-steel artwork recently finished installation.

Glass artwork panels are bolted to the top of the arch prior to being hoisted to the top of the sculpture.

Glass artwork panels are bolted to the top of the arch prior to being hoisted to the top of the sculpture.

The design of the public artwork was intended to mark the symbolic entrance to the Kenilworth / Parkside section of DC’s Ward 7. This area (near Caeser Chavez charter school, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Anacostia Freeway) was recently identified as a DC Promise neighborhood – and its experiencing a renewed investment in neighborhood revitalization. After meeting with community representatives, the WGS team focused on themes that were strongly held.

Concept design for the Green Community Gateway Arch.

Concept design for the Green Community Gateway Arch.

 

A “Community Gateway Arch” became the vision for the placemaking sculpture that would help identify the new environment. The glass panel insets in the 16′ tall sculpture would be made with the help of the neighborhood residents, students of the high school, and the staff of the new Unity Healthcare facility. The Washington Glass Studio worked with the DC Creates! Public Art Program selection committee, the DCCAH Council, Unity Parkside Health Care, the Ward 7 ANC and the community and held a series of glass “quilting-bees” and made a communal environment where community and art were not separate.  The public artwork concept was designed and engineered to a high level.

 

 

 

The public artwork concept was designed and engineered to a high level.

 

Artist Erwin Timmers oversaw the structural integration of support framework, LED lighting and glass panel insets.

Artist Erwin Timmers oversaw the structural integration of support framework, LED lighting and glass panel insets.

The 16′ high x 14′ wide sculpture lit internally with LED lighting was one of the largest outdoor artworks installed to date for the Washington Glass Studio, and much went into the design, engineering and the fabrication of the steel framework.

glass.by.communityIn early 2014, with the structural foundation for the artwork finished and the steel framework underway, the call went out to the community to come make glass. By directly involving the public in the creation of the new landmark, the space would resonate because the artwork would have meaning to all – as everyone had the chance to tell their story.  The glass workshops were packed. Many of the people that came to work in glass returned to each of the scheduled dates – they loved working in glass and wanted to see how the artwork changed once fired.

DC ANC Ward 7 Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

DC ANC Ward 7 Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

By having many area residents making the glass art insets, the sculpture has an increased sense of local identity. The artwork arch stimulates curiosity, inspired some of the budding artists to consider new artistic avenues and on occasion, create a smile.

Many voices told many stories in the inset panels that made up the glass quilt archway.

Many voices told many stories in the inset panels that made up the glass quilt archway.

Opposite view of Washington, DC’s Green Community Arch.

Opposite view of Washington, DC’s Green Community Arch.

The formal opening ceremony of the Anacostia Arch with DC Mayor Gray is now being scheduled.

P R O J E C T   D E T A I L S

Location  Corner of Hayes Street & Kenilworth Terrace, NE, Washington, DC 20019

Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team  Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson, Derek Thomas, Miles Lark, Cris Chaney and Robyn Townsend

Structural Engineers  Holbert Apple Associates, Inc and Wolfman and Associates

Structural Steel   Iron Kingdom

Number of Glass Tile Insets  Over 300

Weight of Sculpture   2000 lbs

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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 selected as a finalist for the 31st Mayor's Arts Awards in 2016. Janis also edits the Washington Glass School blog at http://washingtonglassschool.com/school/blog