January 28, 2016 — July 31, 2016
In Cities: Departure and Deviation, Norwood Viviano explores the complex history of urban America through minimalist blown-glass forms.
Composed in shades of white, black, and gray, Viviano’s glass diagrams can be read as three-dimensional timelines, telling the 400-year story of the rise and decline of urban industries and how fluctuations in manufacturing prompted dramatic changes in populations.
“Using data is a tool for conversation,” Viviano says, explaining that turning information into sculpture will help viewers ask questions about what makes a city successful. The 25 glass “cities” or graphs in Viviano’s installation are suspended in front of digitally rendered drawings containing population information.
Using the length of each form to depict time, the width to describe the population density and color to convey a moment of dramatic change, Viviano masterfully converts cold statistical data into a tranquil visual database of knowledge, which prompts the viewer to think of cities as organic, changing landscapes.
The side-by-side arrangement of blown forms allows the viewer to see the magnitude of diversity in cities as varied as New York (population, 8 million) and Flint, Mich. (population, 110,000). Keeping these forms proportional is one of the most technically challenging aspects of crafting these works in glass.
Examined individually or compared to each other, each skillfully crafted graph distills complex data into subdued forms, allowing them to make eye-opening statements about the geographical, historical, and cultural factors affecting our cities and urban landscapes over time.
This exhibition, on loan from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, was on view through July 31, 2016.