Artists have always depended on patrons to support their creative efforts. Columbus Orthopedic is a perfect combination of patron and artisans. The new facility in Starkville incorporates three significant glass artworks in a medical architectural setting. The medical art therapy discipline recognizes the value of art in the treatment environment. Both the Starkville and Columbus physical rehabilitation facilities treat the soul as well as the body with the exquisite beauty of art glass.
When glass-selecting for Starkville Orthopedic, I focused on combining subtle variations of color and texture in an interesting, dynamic way while keeping the overall design in mind. Cutting the art glass so that the ovals were directionally consistent with the swirling lead work was crucial to the design. Balancing the use of opal glass with transparent and textured glass gave a harmonious appearance to the four separate panels.
Creating the kiln formed glass for the hydrotherapy treatment facility was such an honor. At the earliest stages of design we consider the architecture and style of the installation site, the meaning and purpose of the space, and then we design a concept that enhances the original vision of the space. At the Starkville Orthopedic Clinic the glass was meant to sooth and calm, while being beautiful and interesting enough to engage patients who would welcome something to focus on. The designs Andrew Young created involved the colors of water and earth, gold for transcendence, with a dynamic movement and overlapping patterns to indicate progress and forward motion. I was able to translate these ideas into the architectural art glass by shaping many colored sheets of glass into fluid curves and overlapping them- having them weave across each other coming and going and in the process creating new colors. Throughout the panels I also used crushed glass fragments and glass powder to create splashes and splatters of color and to add more variety. For the gold aspects I used a metallic mica powder, this is not glass and it does not actually fuse to glass, so it takes care to encapsulate the material in the glass, but the effect is very beautiful and interesting. The mica powder can be painted on with water, or sprinkled and shaped as reflective dry powder. You can see it as the sun in the wall mounted piece, and the gold “tiles” in the polyptych window installation. In the polyptych the squares add a controlled order to contrast the otherwise organic and random pattern. Each panel was fired in a state of the art kiln, laminated to safety glass, and trimmed to exact size before installation. The Lamination process has a beautiful effect of its own, it makes the handmade glass under-surface become much more transparent, and so the interaction of the hanging panels and their background becomes much more like looking through still clear water; a perfect effect for the viewers who are already contemplating water and movement as they seek treatment in the facility.