To prepare for the Boca Raton Museum of Art's upcoming exhibition Glasstress, Kathleen Goncharov, the museum's senior curator only had a narrow window of opportunity over the past couple of years to visit the Berengo Studio in Venice, which has helped organise the exhibition. First the Italian lagoon suffered from record-breaking floods, swiftly followed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but during an opportune moment in 2019 she made it to the island of Murano to choose handblown glass sculptures designed by 34 contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei, Fred Wilson, Vik Muniz, Erwin Wurm, Fionna Banner, Prune Nourry, Ugo Rondinone, and Joyce J. Scott.
Weiwei's oversized Blossom Chandelier, for example, looks ornately floral from a distance, but on closer inspection is made up of Twitter birds fluttering near hands flipping the bird, as well as security cameras and skulls. Dike Blair reproduced a Windex bottle in glass, and Vik Muniz created Individuals, human-scale reproductions of lavish wine goblets. "Glass is so flexible, glass can become almost anything you want. It belongs already to the creative realm," Muniz says in a short documentary prepared for the exhibition.
All of the sculptures shown in Florida were created over the past five years, and a few were even produced remotely in 2020, with artists coordinating with the studio via Zoom. Some are hand-sized and others fill rooms, and they are based on themes ranging from racial justice to climate change.