Mark Zirpel wins Raphael Prize (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Mark Zirpel, Pair, 2006
blown glass, mixed media, 120 x 52 x 18 inches installed

The following is an excerpt from "Art Review: Exhibition transforms views of glass art" by Mary Thomas, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 14, 2007

Seattle artist Mark Zirpel rightly captured the Raphael Prize for "Pair," a kinetic sculpture with deceptively simple presentation. However, typical of the artist's work, it's inspired by and reflective of basic human biological and psychological behavioral patterns, as well as the movements of natural elements such as wind and tides.

Two clear glass flasks, capped by white latex gloves and connected by rubber tubing, rise and lower in slow motorized opposition. Water, draining from one to another by gravity, forces air into one glove, expanding it into a hand, while the other collapses into its chamber. Then, in the measured rhythm of breath, the opposite occurs, and repeats, one hand reaching as the other withdraws.

In his video, Zirpel talks about the ways "Pair" addresses the exhibition theme: transformation. There is the dynamic between the two flasks, which represent people. "The relationship with another being is transformative," he says, and that's what's "at the heart of the piece."

There is the transformation of objects into ideas. And there is the transformation visitors undergo as they reconsider their assumptions about what art is, he says.

Most transformative is the synthesis of observation, thought and material that occurs under Zirpel's watch and takes shape under his palms. There are four other sculptures by the artist in this exhibition, just enough to whet the appetite for more. The Zirpel video is a finely made artwork in itself that manages to capture, richly and succinctly, the essence of this complex thinker. That's no easy accomplishment and a reflection of the skill and devotion brought to its production by Alan Harris of AIH Group. Harris has filmed each artist in the series, and his similarly refined piece on Peretti also plays in the gallery.

Video:Artist interview from the 2007 Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize

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formattingDownload:   Mark Zirpel November 14, 2007

November 14, 2007