We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark: the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light. -Plato (427-347 B.C.)

On a recent trip to Chicago, I attended SOFA (Sculpture, Objects & Functional Art Exposition).

This annual event showcases some of the premier glass artists in the country.

Two artists grabbed my attention with their use of color and light: Stephen Powell, who I have admired for years, and Stephen Knapp, a new artist to me.

Stephen Powell's Art

How Stephen Knapp Makes Color Dance

Knapp creates the illusion of colors dancing by using light and reflection in his work. To accomplish this, he constructs glass “sandwiches” of varying shapes using transparent glass and thin slices of colored filaments, which he then hangs perpendicular to the wall.

He does this by shining flashlights through the sandwiches, forming various colored shadows. His light paintings make the light around us visible and change it into something that is both physical and ephemeral at the same time.

Stephen Knapp's blown glass art

Stephen Powell’s Breathtaking Sculptures

The significant work that Powell has done with color serves as the inspiration for his sculptures. After that, he wraps the rod in various colors, stretches it out, and cuts it into small circular pieces called murini.

These are then arranged in a certain pattern on a hot metal plate. After that, he warms up a clear glass cylinder connected to a blowpipe, rolls over the 2,500 murinis, and then connects them to the glass bubble using the blowpipe. After that, he collects additional transparent glass and blows the bubble out, which stretches the picture and gives the illusion that it is three-dimensional. The effect is stunning and entrancing all at the same time.

Steven Powell glass murini

Color is Delightful at Any Age

“Color delights us from cradle to grave, it grooves some optical pleasure zone that seems almost beyond language, and it is everywhere celebrated in the almost irrepressibly vivacious glass sculpture of Stephen Powell.”

I refer to these two glass artists whose work combines color and light, providing a luminosity that cannot be duplicated with any other medium.