Today was the last day of the Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum here in Toronto, and I braved the cold (alongside my mom) to see it.
A few things really struck me about the pieces on display. Some of my favourites made me feel as if I were underwater, with the twisting tendrils sometimes even interspersed with delicate glass sea creatures. And that delicacy created a strange fear in place of the usual desire to reach out and connect with the art around me; with these glass sculptures, the thought of blundering into them and causing them to come crashing down creates a deep sense of hypothetical mortification.
This instinctive need to take great care not to disturb the work around us was not the only peculiarity of the exhibit.More than perhaps any other roped-off exhibit I’ve ever seen, people were interacting with the work. No one dared touch anything, but photography was not only permitted but encouraged, and many people were contorting themselves, twisting like the sculptures they were observing, in order to get a good shot or even just gain a different perspective. Participants were chatty, energized by the bright colours and wild shapes. The exhibit felt both very personal and communal, and I’ll admit I barely read any of the plaques describing the pieces; connecting with Chihuly’s work seemed to necessitate a more active collective engagement.
For those who weren’t able to make it out to see these pieces in person, here are a few of my favourite shots that I managed to take.