Customs House Museum through October 30
by Catherine Randall
Strong art deco colors in geometric shapes, intricate art nouveau flowing curves, and the play of daylight through textured glass are some of the classic features in Tammy O’Connor’s stained glass creations.
“I love what the spectrum of light does coming through colored glass,” O’Connor says, “It creates this ‘other-ly’ feel.”
For thirty years Tammy O’Connor has mesmerized viewers with these almost ethereal hanging sculptures. Her chosen medium lends itself to a holy impression. Stained glass has been used in cathedrals for centuries to defuse light and set a spiritual mood. “It causes you to slow down, come into calmness,” O’Connor says. In fact, it is her mission to use her art to bring “some peace and quietness” to an otherwise noisy world.
Ming is a hanging piece representative of O’Connor’s technique. The amber-colored pendant encases a single sprig of baby’s breath. Fused glass triangles in yellow and brown blotches buttress the center burnt-umber vertical panels. Shocks of emerald squares anchor the edges. Sunlight pushes through mullion panes then bursts into tiny muntins of splintered light. Curved fringes of clear textured glass hang low, asymmetrical, and angelic. Fern fronds and tiny maple leaves find eternal homes in other pieces.
Her new collection Hand Shadows: Imagination in Glass is a bit of a departure, one that fuses a narrative with traditional stained glass style and form. On display are hands enclosed in rich colored-glass squares, which cast onyx images of a dove, snail, bunny, duck, fox, and camel. Each piece has her signature fused-glass elements and designs, which create the shadow puppet effects.
Soft beams of light cast from the Fresnel lanterns bounce off the gallery walls at the Customs House Museum and dance around the glass, mimicking natural sun rays. Unlike her hanging pieces, these panels are fixed in a stand, still and waiting like a storybook to be enjoyed.
This atmosphere is intentional: “Kids are so technical these days. We have lost the simple joys,” O’Connor says. This exhibit is an invitation to rediscover imagination. Standing in front of any of O’Connor’s work it is clear she has met her mission. Her work casts a space of sacred, peaceful silence.
Hand Shadows: Imagination in Glass will be on display at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center in Clarksville, Tennessee, until October 30. For more information, visit www.customshousemuseum.org.