Beard & Weil Makes It Clear
by J. Fatima Martins
Upon entering the Beard & Weil Galleries, we’re immediately affected by the hypnotic fairy-power of clear
glass. The first installation in “Theories of the Earth” is a three-dimensional still-life menagerie of transparent objects arranged cohesively to appear haphazard and jumbled on and underneath a long, rectangular, seven-legged painted white table. The entire thing projects a cold, alien world; it’s unsettling, yet completing, as if we’ve been transported into a magical dinner party, frozen at a precise moment.
The table is laid with fragile glass vessels, bowls, plates and cups of various sizes and densities; two crystalclear, tall, tropical glass trees — ancient cycadophyta — flank each side, and an assortment of messy glass foliage is tossed throughout. There are glass fabrics and other drapery, a loaf of glass bread and buns, and glass fruit including an inciting pomegranate. The most intriguing items are surprise glass objects, iconographic motifs of culture and decadence: petite Grecian pillars (civilization); a violin (music); a box with an open lid, out of which spills a long glass-beaded necklace (wealth); and several glass books, or reading/writing tablets, with glass writing tools (learning).
At center is a deep metallic-mirrored gazing ball, a typical European garden ornament, representing the ovoid earth absorbing and reflecting everything around it. Although we do not know initially, the “mirror ball” is a focal element appearing again, either in physical form or concept, throughout the exhibition.