Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Glass Menagerie: Artist Steffen Dam’s Invented Natural World

Search

Glass Menagerie: Artist Steffen Dam’s Invented Natural World

April 18, 2018

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.

For the past decade, Dam has been working on a series of crystal Jars that contain his invented aquatic worlds. Shown here, jellyfish-like &#8
Above: For the past decade, Dam has been working on a series of crystal Jars that contain his invented aquatic worlds. Shown here, jellyfish-like “3 Jars” from 2018, makes masterful use of air bubbles, something most glassblowers try to avoid.

Dam’s work is represented by the Heller Gallery in New York City and the Joanna Bird Gallery in London; he makes commissions on request.

Dam names his test-tube ensembles things like &#8
Above: Dam names his test-tube ensembles things like “My Parallel Biology,” “New Medicine,” and “Specimens from an Imaginary Journey.”
Dam&#8
Above: Dam’s backlit Cabinet of Curiosities series is his own version of Wunderkammer, the 16th-century collectors’ assemblages of natural specimens that Heller Gallery describes as “precursors to museums.”
In addition to blowing glass, Dam applies a slew of exacting techniques, including casting and grinding. Shown here, &#8
Above: In addition to blowing glass, Dam applies a slew of exacting techniques, including casting and grinding. Shown here, “The Secret Life of Plants.”

“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.

Dam is one of 30 short-listed artists for the  Loewe Craft Prize, and his work will be part of the Loewe Foundation finalists&#8
Above: Dam is one of 30 short-listed artists for the 2018 Loewe Craft Prize, and his work will be part of the Loewe Foundation finalists’ show on view at the Design Museum in London from May 4 to June 17. 

Some botanical art to go with your plants? Here are some more ideas:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0