Here in the northeast as we desperately await winter’s last gasp, I’ve taken solace in the invented, season-less worlds of Steffen Dam. Working entirely in glass, the Danish artist builds natural specimens that allude to the images he pored over in his paternal grandfather’s natural history books and insect collections. But Dam’s creations are entirely his own.
He trained and worked as a toolmaker before discovering glass, a medium that enables him to combine his extraordinary abilities as a technician with his poetic approach to science. Over the past 30 years, his work has been shown all over the world and is in the collections of the Danish Museum of Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others. Dam says, “My jars contain nothing that exists in the ocean, my specimens are plausible but not from this world, and my flowers are still unnamed…my aim is to describe what’s not tangible and understandable with our everyday senses.”
Photography courtesy of Steffen Dam.
“Steffen Dam invites the viewer to relish the sheer beauty of his ‘specimens,’ but also to reflect on the meaning of nature as a mirror of the human mind and spirit,” writes David Revere McFadden in the catalog that accompanied Dam’s 2017 solo show at New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design.
Some botanical art to go with your plants? Here are some more ideas: