Michelle Lopez

Chandelier II - Art at the Podium, The Podium Public Art Project / THE PODIUM

About the installation

Sculptor Michelle Lopez’s ‘Chandelier II’ (2020), as seen from across the main lobby, is a delicate trace of light, gracefully held within the languid line of the glass sculpture that encases it.

A sculptor deeply interested in material and their properties, Lopez often aligns form with the history of her chosen material; for this commission, she works with hand-pulled glass, that is, molten glass shaped by the artist as it cools. The work’s final shape is determined by the bodies of the artist and her fabricators as they articulate the large-scale glass sculpture with their breath and gesture.

Lopez researched the history of chandeliers and how glass and light could register movement of the body at such a large scale. There are then several registers of “the figure” to be found in these suspended forms.  ‘Chandelier II’ is a trace of the artist’s movement as each segment of glass is blown, then pulled, to create the form of an uninterrupted stroke.  It outlines, not a shape, but intimates the action of the artist’s process of production. In this work she combines a grand gesture into a sensitive, dynamic, continuous line.

Lopez is also known for her manipulation of minimal, abstract forms that hint at societal collapse and human vulnerability. Her interests, too, are found in the application and materiality of industrial materials—in this case, ropes and their utility. She writes, “The idea for this work began with my interest in rope(s) and its industrial applications to rig, hang, pull—some of these refer to a kind of historic violence. The rope becomes a stand-in for a figure—an absent or implied body.” ‘Chandelier II,‘ can then be read as a fragile rope of glass and light, drawn through the ceiling, and dropping down to drape the space below with its crystalline shimmer of an unspoken violence.

About the artist

Michelle Lopez (b. 1970) is an interdisciplinary sculptor and installation artist. As a builder, conceptualist, and manipulator of materials, Lopez explores cultural phenomenon, stretching to their limits the industrial processes that craft consumerism in its many forms. Lopez’s gimlet eye examines collapsed political and social structures by inverting cultural tropes through the process of building, exploiting industrial materials to expose the hidden boundaries of embedded societal constructions.

Lopez was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019. Her public commissions include those for FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain), Jardin des Plantes, Paris (2014); Art Public, Miami Basel, Miami (2013); The Public Art Fund, Brooklyn, New York (2000).

She has exhibited at Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia; Simon Preston Gallery, New York; Alt/Protocinema, Istanbul; Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris; Fondazione Trussardi, Milan; Deitch Projects, New York; MoMA, PS1, New York.

She has taught at University of California Berkeley, Yale School of Art, the School of Visual Arts, and currently heads the Sculpture division in the Fine Arts Program, at the Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. 

July 1, 2022