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Ulysses Revisited: The Ulysses Cylinders at Vassar College

by Editorial Staff

Vassar will be the first U.S. college to present Ulysses Cylinders by Dale Chihuly and Seaver Leslie with Flora C. Mace & Joey Kirkpatrick. This collaborative exhibition combines magnificent glass sculptures created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly, with pen and ink drawings by painter Seaver Leslie. Ulysses Cylinders premiered at Dublin Castle in Ireland during the summer of 2014. These blown glass vessels were created with imagery inspired by James Joyce’s famed novel Ulysses. The work explores themes pertinent to a recounting of occurrences of a single day in Dublin as described in Joyce’s materpiece. They follow the novel’s timeline while describing the principal characters of Leopold and Molly Bloom, and Stephen Daedalus, in vignettes of their escapades around Dublin. This exhibition, scheduled for October 11-​​November 22, 2015 in the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library, will also be the first to present Chihuly works in New York’s Hudson Valley.

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The Cylinders, first created in 1975, were among the first in Chihuly’s oeuvre. A new technique was developed to fuse glass thread “drawings” on to cylindrical vessels in while in their molten state. In 2013 Chihuly and painter Seaver Leslie, together with artists Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, decided to revisit this body of work, focusing on Joyce’s Ulysses as the sole inspiration. Working with Leslie’s pen and ink drawings, Mace and Kirkpatrick created fragile glass drawings which Chihuly and his team then fused onto forty-​​five individual cylinders speckled with gold leaf —many as tall as fifteen or sixteen inches.

The Cylinders will be installed on custom-​​designed pedestals in the North and South reading rooms of the college’s Thompson Memorial Library, and will be arranged according to the chronology of Joyce’s novel. The exhibition will include an explanatory video and wall text, as well as a brochure that ties the Ulysses Cylinders to the long tradition of artists inspired by the famous novel.

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A related exhibit will also be presented on the main floor of the Thompson Library, James Joyce’s Ulysses: Text and Art, spotlighting editions of the novel illustrated by such acclaimed artists as Eric Gill, Henri Matisse, and Robert Motherwell (and held in the college’s Special Collections). Together these books outline the history of Joyce’s text and demonstrate the role of artistic interpretation to provide further context to Ulysses.

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Admission to Ulysses Cylinders is free but reservations in thirty-​​minute increments are required and can be made online. Each tour is limited to twenty-​​six individuals and all groups need to register each individual separately. Hours of admission are 11 am-4:30pm daily. Registration is required and walk-​​ins cannot be accommodated. The exhibit is made possible with support from Dale and Leslie Chihuly, a Vassar alumna, as well as Vassar graduates Richard and Margery Feitler.

Learn more at the exhibition website: Here

MORE ABOUT DALE CHIHULY AND SEAVER LESLIE

Dale Chihuly

Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from the realm of craft to fine art. He is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums and gardens. Chihuly’s work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Major exhibitions include Chihuly Over Venice (1995 – 96), Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999), Garden Cycle (2001 – present), de Young Museum in San Francisco (2008), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (2012) and the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal, Canada (2013.) Chihuly Garden and Glass opened at Seattle Center in 2012.

Seaver Leslie

Born in Boston in 1946, Seaver Leslie earned his B.F.A., 1969, and M.A.T., 1970, from the Rhode Island School of Design. He also studied painting with Sir Peter Blake in London, 1973 – 1974. Leslie works in the American narrative tradition, often expressing political or cultural themes such as the destruction of nature and the abandonment of the ideals of traditional cultures. Painters such as George Bellows, Ben Shahn, and Erastus Salisbury Field inspire his work. He has exhibited his paintings and drawings at Jacques Seligman, Hirschl and Adler, and Tatistcheff in New York City; at a one-​​man show at the DeCordova Museum (Lincoln, Mass.) in 1989; and at other galleries around the United States and in Great Britain. In 1973 – 74, Leslie painted and exhibited with a group of English artists known as the Brotherhood of Ruralists. In fall 2013 and winter 2014, he collaborated with artist Dale Chihuly, on a series of glass cylinders, a project they began in 1975.

ABOUT THE FREDERICK FERRIS THOMPSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Thompson Memorial Library (interior), Vassar College

The Thompson Memorial Library (interior), Vassar College

The Thompson Memorial Library is consistently listed as one of the most beautiful college libraries in the world, and with its abundant natural light is a particularly suitable venue for an exhibition of glass art. Perhaps the building’s most distinctive feature is the massive Cornaro stained-​​glass window that illuminates the library’s main hall and depicts the conferring of the first doctorate to a woman, awarded to Lady Elena Lucretia Cornaro-​​Piscopia by the University of Padua in in 1678.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all, and the Thompson Library is wheelchair accessible. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-​​Fridays, at (845) 437‑5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/​and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage.

Directions to the Vassar campus, located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie (NY), are available at www​.vassar​.edu/​d​i​r​e​c​t​i​ons. Parking for the exhibition is in the North Lot, accessible from the North Gate on Collegeview Avenue.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

All images courtesy of Vassar College Media Relations.

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