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Materials of Expression: Part Two

Expressing yourself through an artistic process is both rewarding and, at the same time, very intimidating. The journey of designing and creating artwork is hopefully an enjoyable journey, but when the artwork being created is for a solo show and you are the only person represented, you often overthink the process. There are other aspects artists overthink as well; What are people going to think of the work? What are people going to think of me? How about the space, the gallery? I haven’t even touched on the financial investment, time and materials. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m excited, scared, nervous and overwhelmed all at the same time!

The thing is, if all I was doing for the last 3 months was creating my work for the show things might have been a little easier, but for me that just isn’t the case. Even though I’ve taken a large step back from the GA day-to-day operations, I’m still needed as a hired hand for designing product and production, as well as certain events. Upon this transition, I re-invented Furnace Design Studios as Chris Nordin Studios and created a new start up company called Ashes in Art Glass that specializes in sculptural memorial art incasing human and pet ashes into glass. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a person who thrives on stress and loves hard work, extremes are what I’m all about! But sometimes all the shit hits the fan. The hardest part is not getting short with your friends and especially your family, so I’m going to apologize ahead of time if I lose it with anyone.

Going back to the process of creating a solo exhibition, I have to force myself to create a new body of work, or to even perfect a body of work. I feel like this was something I needed to do in this stage of my career. I’ve been creating custom sculpture for clients for 30 plus years now so having a show that’s just about me and what my mind feels is the best form of expression is the next step. Creating hundreds of custom pieces over the years has allowed me to discover new ideas that I fall in love with and can explore and perfect. The one particular piece I have turned into a series is the Grappalo Murrini Series. This series will be the largest part of my exhibition. This series consists of wall pieces that are made from very carefully chosen pieces of burled wood. A burl is found in a tree where the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is caused from some kind of stress in the tree, and always results in a one-of-a-kind pattern. This phenomenon is most common in redwood, maple, walnut, oak and cherry. It's interesting that similar to trees and burls, I enjoy stress in my life and beautiful creations are also the result. I found that combining glass with this type of wood has a very beautiful outcome. The word “Grappalo” is a word I created to describe the burled wood and it's participation in the piece, paired with the technique “Murrini”, an Italian blown glass process that describes the glass element in the work.

The Murrini glass sections are created by layering multiple gathers of glass and colors and pulling them into a long shape similar to a baguette, about 12-24” long and about 1-3” in diameter. I slice the glass like a loaf of bread into different thicknesses. Once this is completed I polish out the surface of each piece and then start laying them out in the desired pattern. Each grouping is to be mounted on the front of a pared unique piece of the burled wood. Once the layout is formatted I move the glass into an annealing oven and fuse the pieces together at 1500 degrees. They are then carefully removed and mounted onto the wood. Each of these pieces speaks differently to me and the intention is that they will speak differently to each individual who views them.

This new series is a small portion of the whole show. I feel that representing a larger body of diverse sculptures in this exhibition is important to showcasing the diversity I foster in my work, as well as my technical ability. No matter what the material, be it glass, forged steel or wood, I’m always trying to perfect the process of traditional technique as well as incorporating new forms expression with it.

Materials of Expression: Sculpture or Craft?
One Man Exhibition by Chris Nordin
Thursday, March 19th – Saturday, April 18th, 2020
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 19th | 6-8 PM
Closing Reception: Saturday, April 18th

The exhibition will be at:
Padzieski Art Gallery
Ford Community & Performing Arts Center
15801 Michigan Avenue
Dearborn, MI 48126