EXCLUSIVE: Artist Josiah McElheny discusses the intentionally problematic nature of beauty and seduction in his “Total Reflective Abstraction” (2004) installation, on view at Donald Young Gallery in Chicago, as well as works by fellow artists and architectural masterpieces such as Renaissance palaces.
Josiah McElheny creates finely crafted, handmade glass objects that he combines with photographs, text, and museological displays to evoke notions of meaning and memory. McElheny’s work takes as its subject the object, idea, and social nexus of glass. Influenced by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, McElheny’s work often takes the form of historical fictions. Part of McElheny’s fascination with storytelling is that glassmaking is part of an oral tradition handed down generation to generation, artisan to artisan. Sculptural models of Modernist ideals, these totally reflective environments are both elegant seductions as well as parables of the vices of utopian aspirations.