One of the most unusual and promising practices in glass art involves rare gases, including neon, helium, argon, and xenon. And one of the young artists fascinated by these gases and the way they can interact with and transform glass is James Akers, 27 (July 28, 20).
Akers, based in Brooklyn, New York, graduated in 2015 from Alfred University in New York State with, as he writes in his biography, “an addiction to glass, neon, and electricity.” . All three are used in his “Media Feedback Loop” exhibit at the Glass Axis studio just west of downtown Columbus.
Akers’ glass sculptures are self-contained “tangles” of curved, gas-filled, electrically-powered glass tubes. While “neon” is used as a broad description of this type of art, the gases involved in Akers’ work include neon as well as several others.
Two “Rainbow Xenon Tangles” are primary colored Murano glass sculptures, presented in shapes reminiscent of designs of atoms, and filled with xenon gas that frantically flows through the loops.
“Next Gen Benders Tangle”, constructed of American and Murano glass and deposited with argon, is a brilliant collaboration of curved blue and lime green tubes.
“Calm ‘N Crazy Xenon Tangle” is constructed in a similar shape of clear glass with the gas flowing in thin blue lines. Visitors can gently touch the glass tubes and watch the gas react with the tips of their fingers.
On the wall, Akers installed “Alphabet Soup Neon”, two dozen multicolored neon letters arranged in disorder.
Its only construction without glass or gas is the bizarre “Tin Foil Hat Media Sheep Cloud”, an installation made of sheep’s wool, LCD screens, amplifiers, speakers, circuitry and aluminum foil. fashioned in the hat that overcomes this jumble of materials. There emanates from the room a cacophony of sounds and songs – all intended to comment on the overwhelming distractions of social media.
During the installation of his exhibit, Akers taught classes at Glass Axis, one of the few places in the country that has the necessary equipment and tools for working with neon glass, according to Alex Fresch, director of the marketing and gallery. Glass tubes, gas distributors and various tools necessary for the complicated process of turning glass and gases into art can be found on the workbenches just outside the gallery which is filled with Akers’ work.
“At Glass Axis we love the art and science of glass and with neon we have hit science hard,” said Fresch.
Akers has another piece on display at Glass Axis, but it’s not in the gallery. At the institution’s window is its neon sign “Free Intellectual Property Hotline”. Those who call the number on the sign will reach a hotline with “art ideas”.
Akers is an artist ready to share his time, his creativity and his perspectives.
In his artist statement, he writes that he is interested in “the idea of ’the savage’ and the celebration”.
“I show my work and do not erase the traces of its creation. I find artists doing what they’re not supposed to do and pushing the boundaries very exciting.
In one look
“James Akers: Media Feedback Loop” runs through August 6 at Glass Axis, 610 W. Town St. Hours: 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm Friday. Call 614-291-4250 or visit www.glassaxis.org.