In the next of our 12 for 12 series in celebration of the Columbus Bicentennial, we feature native Columbus glass artist Christopher Ries.
While bow fishing as a child in Little Darby Creek, glass artist Christopher Ries was fascinated by the optical illusions created by light underwater. Ever since, Ries has been seeking to share his discoveries into the mystery of light as revealed through the medium of glass. Guided by this “inner necessity,” a phrase borrowed from Wassily Kandinsky, Ries sought material of increasing optical purity for his sculptures. Having found a lead crystal that transmits 99.8 percent of the light that strikes it, Ries has worked to create larger and more ambitious pieces.
Clearly Ries takes pride in his ability to create monumental pieces from cast crystal blocks. But there is a more profound reason for his fascination with scale. With a grander, more ambitious scale, the viewer can more readlily “enter” the piece and can set up an “I-Thou” relationship with it, eliciting the desired aesthetic and spiritual experience. Through the reflective power of glass, Ries combines his love of nature with his technology skills to create breathtakingly beautiful, deceptively simple, yet complex forms that pull the viewer into an intimate world of images that dance and soar within the sculpture.
Ries grew up on a farm in Central Ohio. He attended OSU and earned a BFA in ceramics and blown glass works, before he went on to earn his MFA at the University of Wisconsin where he assisted Harvey Littleton, the founder of the American Studio glass movement. Ries’ works have been displayed around the world. His major glass piece, Opus, greets travelers at Port Columbus International Airport as they are flying out or coming home. Currently Ries serves as the artist in residency for Schott Glass Technologies in Pennsylvania.
Ries’ work will be part of our upcoming exhibition Celebrating Glass: The 50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement, which opens at Columbus Museum of Art on May 11, 2012.
Above image: Lotus by Christopher Ries, 1987.