Saturday, June 23, 2012

Leonia Sculpture Garden

From the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, the small town of Leonia, New Jersey was a noted art colony – home to more than 90 professional artists including Grant Reynard, Harney Dunn, Charles Chapman, Howard McCormick, Clara Elsene Peck, Rutherford and Harriet Boyd, Harry Eaton, and Peter Newell.  Barns and lofts were converted into studio space throughout the town.  Creativity flourished in this community of photographers, writers, actors, and painters.

To this day, art still influences this town that was once home to Pat Boone, Sammy Davis, Jr., Buddy Hackett, Alan Alda, Al B. Sure, and Anthony Bourdain.  Classic and original plays are performed at the Civil War Drill Hall by resident acting company, the Player’s Guild of Leonia; craft shows are held in the town center; book readings are presented by authors at the local Library; and streets are filled with aromas of Italian, Spanish, and Korean foods being prepared by renowned chefs in neighborhood restaurants.

One showcase of talent and display of dedication to the arts is the Erika and David Boyd Sculpture Garden.  This rotating display allows sculptors to exhibit their works and Leonians to enjoy the visual enrichment of the community.  

This blog presents several of the sculptures that have enhanced this historically rich art environment.

by Jerome Harris Parmet

“C-Squared” demonstrates the conflict of a thick, heavy structure protruding from the earth on an angle – appearing as if it could fall in either direction with even a slight breeze.  The structure is secured to its base at just the appropriate angle to realize its balance-tension.


Artist, Jerome Harris Parmet notes that when working with a preconceived drawing, there is less decision making involved its execution. But in the construction of all of his pieces, he lets the sculpture have its “say” in the final design outcome.  In order to conclude the obvious open-circle void space in “C-Squared,” Jerome built models from cardboard, wax, metal, and wire until that “eureka” moment arrived.  He translated the form into reality, uniting the entire sculpture. 

Pisces Denied

As with “Pisces Denied” and other works, Jerome describes his joy in working with steel.  “It may seem to the observer as a cold, inert material, but understanding its capabilities urges an appreciation for the material.  It bends at my will and then returns to a fixed state – it’s almost magical.  It allows me to express my sense of design and philosophy.  I focus on the process and work my way to an artistic conclusion.”

Enjoy my full interview with Jerome Harris Parmet by clicking here. 

About the Artist
From graduating design school at Syracuse University in 1957, to managing his own interior architecture firm for 35 years, to exhibiting works throughout the country – acclaimed sculptor, Jerome Harris Parmet, has dedicated his life to the arts.  His sculptures, displayed in art centers, sculpture gardens, and private collections are revered for their presentation of simple shapes that assume complex dimensions and new forms from every angle. 

For more information, visit

by Dan Bergman

Traditionally a sculptor who works with metal, Dan Bergman veered to wood with the creation of "My Father's House."

My Father's House

The carved out space in this sculpture represents the house.  It is visible from every angle of the three-paneled display.  Here, Dan describes his fascination with houses and his artistic intensions for “My Father’s House.”

About the Artist
Dan Bergman grew up in Chicago and Cleveland.  After a 30-year business career, he began studying at New York’s Art Students League.  His sculpture has been exhibited in many solo and group shows, and he has executed a number of public works.  He is known for intense, convoluted welded pieces, wind-driven kinetic works, and explorations of mathematical structures such as tensegrity. 

For more information, visit

by Damien Vera

“Disposable Hero,” which won an award from The Sculptor’s Alliance, is a life-size adjustable steel figure inspired by a Vietnam veteran who was homeless in New York City.  The piece is stripped down to bare emotion.  Like a toy soldier played with and disposed of, one can sense emptiness and loss in this sculpture.

Disposable Hero

The sculpture is poignantly positioned in the Erika and David Boyd Sculpture Garden looking towards the American Legion Hall across the way.

About the Artist
Damien Vera is a technical instructor teaching students the basics of metal working, forming, and welding as well as artistic uses for metal at The Art Student’s League in New York City.  Constantly intrigued not only by the human body, but the human spirit as well, he delights in meeting new people and hearing their tales. 

For more information, visit

by Judith Peck

Sculptor, Judith Peck, describes her sculptures as being inspired by people – how they look, speak, and act; how they endure travail and tragedy; how they celebrate joy.  They address thematic concerns about the choices people make and the choices made for them by history, by chance, and by the intensities of their emotions and experience.  The landscape of people is an infinite terrain full of vitality, pain, and joy.  It is always changing.  The artists is too changed as she explores familiar and unfamiliar places with the tools of carving, molding, and fabrication in hand.    

Husband And Wife

Judith Peck’s latest addition to the Leonia’s sculpture garden is called “Falling Woman.” 

Falling Woman

In this video, the artist describes why she sculpted “Falling Woman.” 

About the Artist
Judith Peck’s sculptures are in 80 public and private collections, including the American Art Collection of Yale University, West Palm Beach Florida Library, the Ghetto Fighters Museum in Israel, the Rockland Center for Holocaust Studies, Temple Beth El in New York, and in New Jersey at the Teaneck Public Library, Ridgewood Train Station, and Tenafly High School.  Judith Peck has a doctoral degree from New York University and two Master’s degrees in Sculpture and Art Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.  She is a professor and the author of several books on the creative process.

For more information, visit

by Michael Alfano

"The Gates of Transcendence" is a larger-than-life face split down the middle, representing the two sides to every situation.  It addresses the idea of transcendence which the viewer can experience from multiple angles.  Facing this monumental portrait provokes thoughts of life on an heroic scale, with all of its challenges.  From behind the sculpture, the viewer can look through the eyes, as if looking through someone else’s eyes, to see a different perspective.  Walking through the “The Gates of Transcendence” is like taking a symbolic journey into a clear new view of life.

The Gates of Transcendence

About the Artist
For over fifteen years, Michael Alfano has been sculpting in clay, creating figurative-based realistic and surrealistic works that are often philosophical.  His sculptures, including commissioned portraits and monuments, are found in galleries, museums, public venues, and private collections around the globe.  Michael has won over 50 awards at juried exhibitions, including the Sculptor of the Year.

For more information, visit

by Michael Bertelli

“The Thinker,” nicknamed “Snubby,” is cloned in bonded marble from the original marble sculpture.

The Thinker

“The Sage” is respected for his wisdom, experience and judgment.  This piece is cloned in bonded marble from the original marble. 

The Sage

About the Artist
Michael Bertelli has been a professional sculptor for over thirty years, working in wood, stone, bronze, and porcelain.  His public works can be seen throughout New Jersey in cities, parks, campuses, churches, and hospitals.  His work has evolved from realistic, as in “Bust of Pope John Paul II” presented to the Pope in Rome, to his current unique fictional characters like “Snubby” and “The Sage” now residing in Leonia.

For more information, visit

by Marilyn Friedman

This six-foot terra cotta sculpture is hollow and stands over a single support.  The work reflects the variety of tools used by the artist.  Clay was pulled, pressed, and dragged to build the forms, silhouettes, and motifs of an abstract figure whose interrelationships express the process of its creation.  The artist’s choice of material relates directly to the natural world.  The piece captures the dualities of strength and fragility and vitality and stillness in both its creation and expression.

Walking Figure

Here, Marilyn describes her process in creating “Walking Figure.”

About the Artist
Marilyn Friedman studied at the Art Students League of New York, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the University of Siena, Italy.  She has received numerous grants and awards for her works from organizations such as the National Academy of Design, the National Sculpture Society, and the National Arts Club.
Marilyn Friedman’s work is in many private collections.  She has also created commissioned sculptures for Kohler, Lufthansa, and Absolut.  She has taught sculpture at Parsons School of Design and Montoya Art Studios, and is currently teaching at the Art Students League of New York. 

by Craig Usher

Artist Craig Usher explains, “I am interested in the blending of progressive and traditional sculpture.  Sculpture is a kind of vessel reflecting the self, which continues to communicate information beyond the work of the maker. This idea of transcendence is a powerful inspiration as it moves one beyond self in order to connect with others.  Sculpting is one way for an individual to make a mark and counter the immense alienation of existence.”  
The Times Reborn

About the Artist
While earning his BFA in Sculpture from SUNY Purchase College of Art and Design, Craig Usher developed an intensive interest in working with the figure.  After working for artist fabrication companies and assisting various artists, Craig’s endeavors led him to the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture and an exploration in working with the life model.

For more information, visit

by Gil Hawkins

Made of polished aluminum and standing guard in front of Leonia’s Borough Hall, “Rising Sun” captures the presence of “now.” 

Rising Sun

In describing “Waldorf A,” Gil Hawkins explains that the title relates to social genre of New York City in the late fifties.  “I recall the uniformed doormen of the hotels and posh apartment houses on Manhattan’s east side, polishing brass door decorations as patrons passed without noticing.  The literal name is quite inadequate nomenclature for the sculptural expression.”

Waldorf A

“Waldorf A” is composed of shapes and forms found in architecture or industry.  Individual pieces are bolted together rather than welded because the union created by bolting, as the artist describes, is both difficult and expressive.

About the Artist
Gil Hawkins has won several awards including 1st place in Sculpture in the Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show and winner of the Sculpture at Newark Airport competition.  He has had countless exhibitions and one-man shows, at venues such as the Puffin Cultural Center Forum, Delaware Museum, and the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.  Gil’s work is displayed in collections at the Storm King Art Center, The Puffin Cultural Forum, and in several private collections. 

He earned his BFA in Sculpture from the Philadelphia College of Art and was part of the Arts Students League in New York.  He has taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Pace, New York University, and Sarah Lawrence College, among others.

by Jodi Carlson

“Can’t Bring Me Down” is a towering metal sculpture of a bud vase containing an abstraction of a lily.  Originally created to be displayed in a 150-acre farm, the artist chose a subject in nature and welded it to a grand scale.

Can't Bring Me Down

Here artist, Jodi Carlson, describes why she called her sculpture “Can’t Bring Me Down.”

About the Artist
Jodi Carlson is a metal sculptor who creates abstract and semi-abstract art.  She has shown her works in a variety of sites in the tri-state area including William Maxwell Fine Arts in Peekskill, New York; the Frasier Woods Montessori school in Newton, Connecticut; and the Putnam Arts Council in Brewster and Mahopac, New York.

Jodi has trained under sculptors David Boyajian of The Sculpture Barn in New Fairfield, Connecticut and Robert Perucci of Silvermine Guild Arts Center in New Canaan, Connecticut.  In addition to her work as an occupational therapist, Jodi continues to expand her welding skills at Silvermine Guild Arts Center.

 For more information visit,

by Grace Knowlton

 Originally a painter, Grace Knowlton has traveled freely through various art forms, methods, and materials.  She has had exhibitions that included works of her photographs, drawings, paintings, and sculptures. 

Buoy and Two Spheres

“Buoy” and “Two Spheres” are made from copper and show various stages of patination.  The surfaces of dulled copper to white patina result from various solutions applied to the shell-like enclosures and from their exposure to the elements.  Organic seams joining the copper sheets, mossy coloration, and different textures combine to make evocative surfaces. 

About the Artist
Grace Knowlton has exhibited extensively throughout the United States.  Her wok is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, and others.

For more information visit,

SUPERBUGS #1, #2 and #3
by Mary Martire

Garden sculptures even grace the trees.  These hanging sculptures of a ladybug, cicada, and bumble bee have see-through forms that evoke the elusive quality of bugs.  Hanging high in the trees, they offer a whimsical joy to those who walk the grounds.


About the Artist
Mary Martire teaches a sculpture class in New Jersey and uses bugs and butterflies as inspiration to create her three-foot “Superbug” sculptures.

by Eric David Laxman

For Eric David Laxman, sculpture is a journey and exploration that helps in understanding and making sense of the world.  “Balancing at High Speed” and “Defining Boundaries” integrate hard stone and metal into coherent, figurative compositions.  The figures express the themes of transformation, growth, balance, and movement.

Balancing At High Speed and Defining Boundaries

Eric describes, “It is my intention to create sculptures that seem spontaneous and inevitable using a process that is labor intensive and deliberate.  I transform materials while respecting their unique properties and raw fundamental nature.  The recognition of discreet parts and creation of a new, unified whole is the essence of my creative process.”

About the Artist
Eric David Laxman is an accomplished sculptor and furniture designer who has created a unique studio and showroom at the Garnerville Art and Industrial Center in New York.  He has exhibited his diverse works throughout the metropolitan area and nationwide.  He was awarded the Rockland County Executive Art Award for Visual Artist and was recognized by Rockland’s business community in the “Forty Under Forty” award ceremony.  Eric has recently completed a large sculpture commission for the City of Sculpture in Hamilton, Ohio and has completed commissions for the Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut and the Summit Medical group in New Jersey.

For more information, visit  

by Adrian Landon

Gaining inspiration from his father and grandfather, who were expert horsemen, Adrian Landon’s first figurative metal piece was a life-size horse’s head.  After that came a few small horses and then a whole life-size horse.  “Galloping Horse 2” is every bit as powerful and majestic as the horses he was surrounded by throughout his life.

Galloping Horse 2

The pieces that make up the sculpture are cut and formed from flat metal sheets.  In a labor-intensive process, the sheets are hand forged with anvil and hammer.

About the Artist
Adrian Landon grew up in New York City and attended the Lycee Francais de New York.  After a year of industrial design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and a year of traveling through the Unites States, he returned to New York City in 2009 and began the craft of welding and forging at the Arts Students League. 

For more information, visit

by Herrat Sommerhoff

Herrat Sommerhoff’s outdoor sculptures are made out of Styrofoam packing material covered with flexible cement.  This colorful piece in the Leonia Sculpture Garden is called “Dancing In The Rain.”

Dancing In The Rain

About the Artist
Herrat Sommerhoff was born and educated in Germany.  After immigrating to the United States, she began her art studies at Bergen Community College and continued at the Art Students League in New York as well as the Art Center of Northern New Jersey in New Milford.

Herrat is affiliated with the Art Center of Northern New Jersey, SALUTE to Women in the Arts, and NAWA (National Association of Women Artists).  Her artwork is in numerous collections throughout New Jersey and New York.  Last summer, Herrat was the grant recipient for the public arts project, “The Doors of Roxbury” in the Catskills.

For more information, visit

by Paul Von Ringelheim

Paul Von Ringelheim was born during a turbulent time in history in Vienna, Austria in 1934.  As a young boy, he was exposed to the evils of the Nazi Party.  He and his family managed to escape and immigrate to America.

They settled in Newark, New Jersey before moving to Brooklyn.  Paul attended Fairleigh Dickinson University and enjoyed the arts from a very young age.  In 1959, Paul had the honor of befriending the famous Pablo Picasso.  He studied and worked with this extraordinary man.

Three Abstractions

In 1964 and 1965, Paul’s “World Peace Screen” 50’ long by 10’ high cast bronze was created as a non-wall.  It was prominently displayed at the New York World’s Fair.  That very same sculpture can be seen on Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Teaneck campus.  

Later, Paul was commissioned by former President Gerald Ford to create a sculpture at his estate in Palm Springs, California. Many of his works are a permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Getty Museum.  Paul believed that art is what you want it to be.  Art can be a personal and individual experience.

Tragically, while on a working vacation in Venice in 2001, he passed away.

by James Murray

As sculptor, James Murray explains, “My sculpture is an extension of what I do every day of my life, or vice versa.  Everything I touch seems to turn into sculpture – the commissioned furniture, the apartments that I recreate, and my home.” 

Welcome Post 2 and Burning Bush

James carves in wood and steel, welds in steel and aluminum, and casts in bronze.  He puts found objects together in unexpected ways – admittedly sometimes with humor.  He connects sculpture to the environment where it will live.

For more information, visit

The Erika and David Boyd Sculpture Garden is truly a reflection of Leonia’s rich artistic culture.  Thanks to all those who volunteer their time and art to create such a display that enriches the community and the lives of those who visit. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At the Paley Center: She's Making Media

The Paley Center for Media, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public.  Tune into conversations online with experts on topics such as models for investigative journalism, new tools for digital media, demonstrations in cloud technology, engaging communities through social media, reflections of genres and genders through television history, and more. It’s a fantastic resource and collection for all those interested in media.

At the Paley Center is now airing their second season of their series “She’s Making Media” on PBS stations.  Hosted by Pat Mitchell, the president and CEO of The Paley Center for Media, the series spotlights women’s role in media and highlights through their stories the new and innovative ways that they have used media to teach and inspire.

At the Paley Center: Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas has been affecting media for over 40 years.  In That Girl, her character represented a generation of women that did not want to solely be in typical female roles of the 40s and 50s like their mothers. Ann Marie, in That Girl, reflected a trend in society of female empowerment and independence. Through her career, Thomas selected roles that she felt would be right for women, selective to not play characters that went against her own sense of morality. She can be credited with helping to change the way women looked at their own lives with her roles in the media. And, with the transformational change at the onset of new media, she continues to evolve women’s issues. You can check out for news, entertainment, and dialogue on topics affecting women. Through her works, Marlo Thomas sends the message that women “can have it all.” 

At the Paley Center: Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda has used the media to promote to women the idea of knowing yourself. She has gone on a journey of self-discovery reflecting on the stages of her life and shares her insights and findings to help and inspire other women. Even at a very young age in an interview clip in 1960, she had the insight to acknowledge that she wished that she could enjoy more of what she was doing in the moment. Her advice to reflect on the experience of your full life in order to know what direction to take in your future is valuable. Through her dialogue, she makes women conscious of the journey to get to the end of the “third act” with no regrets.

 At the Paley Center: Arianna Huffington

Just as Arianna Huffington learned courage and strength from her mother, she teaches women by way of her example to have the strength and courage to pursue our dreams and aspirations.  In her book Becoming Fearless and through other media vehicles, she encourages women to not be afraid of failure because it will only hold us back from realizing our potential.  It is important for her to speak her mind and her truth, as she has exhibited through top news site, the Huffington Post.  She also advocates “unplugging and recharging,” to promote health and wellness. She has not only affected the content of political and business messages in the media, she has affected how those messages are disseminated through the media with the improvement and elevation of new media.

At the Paley Center: Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler has an incredible story that she shared on, At the Paley Center.  She is a writer, an activist, and a cancer survivor.  Through her play, The Vagina Monologues, she provided her perspective on her own womanhood and opened a forum for other women that allowed them to express themselves and the joys and pains of being a woman. She considers the performances as a way to transform social consciousness and has empowered women around the world to develop their own productions to support the commitment to end violence against women.  Eve Ensler gives of herself because she realizes that these causes are greater than she alone. She shares the message that “if we find that thing in our lives that is beyond us, we can always find a way to keep going” and uses art to inspire women and help them realize their own strength.

I found the discussions to be thought-provoking and inspirational.  In addition to the programs that I featured in this blog posting, you can also enjoy videos with Glenn Close and Maria Elena Salinas this season on At the Paley Center.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tackles, Flowers, and Sex

Over 111 million Americans watched Super Bowl XLVI this month.  That’s more than a third of the country’s entire population.  And, in between touchdowns and tackles, those same football fans tuned in to the highly anticipated Super Bowl commercials.  Some usual suspects who have traditionally aired Super Bowl commercials veered away from previous strategies of objectifying women to promote interest in their product.  Remember last year’s Sketcher commercial?  It featured Kim Kardashian coquettishly leading viewers to believe that she had just concluded a sex session with her handsome trainer, telling him “you were the best I ever had,” then leaving him for Sketchers’ new Shape-Ups shoes.  This year, Sketchers shifted its communications strategy, sending the sexual overtones to the dogs – literally. Their spot featured a Greyhound race with a bulldog “underdog” winning while sporting Sketchers on his little moon-walking doggy feet.  The spot caught the attention of viewers and garnered favorable reviews from both men and women.

And although several auto manufactures and snack companies made us laugh this year, not all advertisers shifted messaging strategies from sexual innuendo to comedic blatancy.  Super Bowl viewers were hit with a huge dose of sex-charged commercials.  A crop of advertisers surfaced exposing onlookers to sexy commercials that had some men salivating, some women offended, and some pre-teens blushing.  One spot that caused a stir was brought to us by online flower company, Teleflora. The spot stars Victoria’s Secret super model, Adriana Lima.  After slowly pulling her stocking up her extended leg, zipping her sleeveless black dress, and touching up her lipstick, she looks into the camera and speaks directly to the male audience saying, “Guys, Valentine’s Day is not that complicated. Give and you shall receive.” 

Women voiced reactions from mild annoyance to outrage for what they called an overtly sexist commercial. Twitter accounts buzzed and social media comments rang out comparing the character in the commercial to a hooker and clarifying – for the record – that flowers will not equate to sex.  But, plenty of men had opinions about the commercial too and were not shy about sharing them.  Here are some interesting ones from YouTube.
In response to the “haters,” one post read, “All hot women cause the normal red-blooded male to think about sex… hell even desire it.  That’s like blaming GM, Chrysler, and Ford for car crashes.” Another entry read, “Yeah I’ll be buying my wife flowers for Valentine’s Day.  Hopefully by giving I’ll receive something too.”  Yet another comment read, “Don’t watch the commercial if it bothers you. The rest of us real men will continue to enjoy the commercial, probably buy their woman some flowers, and then enjoy the rest of the evening getting laid!”  And, I don’t want to leave out this infamous comment, “If watching the commercial makes you feel bad about yourself, then do something about it!” 

No matter how much the comments make the mildly feminist cringe, these attitudes do exist.  Teleflora tapped into it.  The originators of these YouTube messages did not pay $3.5 million for a 30-second spot to broadcast their views, but they were able to transmit their messages to the masses.  You can bet that Teleflora is tuned in, observing with satisfaction the ongoing comments and chatter as their online flower orders increase.  Buzz did not just result from the message delivery via purchased airtime and social media, but also from the news coverage that followed.  For days after the Super Bowl, we saw headlines like “The Smoldering Hot Super Bowl Teleflora Ad” and “Sexy Ad Stirs Controversy.”  Conversations ensued on news and lifestyle programs.  Politics, health, the economy, natural disasters, and crime stories were trumped by Teleflora’s Adriana Lima and her sexy suggestion to the men of America. 

Gender influence in media was evident in the commercials, news coverage, and online chatter.  Through the visual medium of television, the spot apparently elicited a physical reaction for some.  The message became not only what was enacted in the commercial, but the reaction of those seeing it. 

Could these commercials be working to condition women into believing what their role as women should be?  Could they be attempting to condition men into believing what they should be getting from women?  Some say that it’s all a form of audience manipulation.  Yet others say that the commercials simply reflect real attitudes and desires of the audience that is watching.  Whether the former is true or latter, the Teleflora commercial tapped into an emotional place for both men and women.  And, isn’t that what a commercial is supposed to do?  

And by the way...  HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY !!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion

Iraqi-born British architect, Zaha Hadid, is the first female recipient of the renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize.  She has advanced contemporary architecture and design through her exploration of fluid geometries and the use of her own representational technique of drawing and painting to depict building elevation plans and design. 

Influenced by the Russian avant-garde movement of the twenties, influenced by Kazimir Malevich, Hadid infuses the idea of motion and energy into her designs to “smoothly harness form to natural processes.” 

I actually find it interesting to view Zaha Hadid’s work side by side, column by column – as each image displays her unique style of flowing curves and the compilation becoming an entirely new visual art set.

The images appear to have come from the mind of an artist projecting a world in the future.  But the radically innovative building designs are tangible and functional today.

I recently visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Zaha Hadid’s exhibition, Form in Motion.  A room in the Perelman Building had been incredibly transformed from blank slate to functional space with perspective flow.  Walking into the room, I was immersed into her style of movement with curving sofas, tables, chandeliers, jewelry, and even shoes.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion exhibit...

Z-Play Seating Elements | 2002
Made by Sawaya & Moroni
Cold-foamed polyurethane, wool upholstery; W (each piece) 28 3/8” (72 cm)

These abstract, irregularly shaped seats are additions to the original Z-Scape furniture program of eleven pieces designed by Hadid for Sawaya & Moroni in 2000, when her designs were realized in exact detail with new digital design and manufacturing technologies.  Having researched and found inspiration in the “morphology” of geological forms and stratifications, Hadid was able to transfer original drawings directly from the three-dimensional computer models into the CNC milling machine where the polyurethane foam seats were cut and shaped.  Conceived as fragments of dynamic landscape formation, the seats offer multiple possibilities for use and configuration.

Vortexx Chandelier | 2005
Made by Zumtobel Lighting GmbH in collaboration with Sawaya & Moroni
Fiberglass, car paint, acrylic, LED; H 60” (152.4 cm)

Whirling around a vertical axis, as its name aptly describes, Hadid’s Vortexx chandelier, made by Zumtobel and produced in collaboration with Sawaya & Moroni, was awarded a prize in the Lights of the Future design competition established by the European Commission to promote energy-efficient residential lighting.  Concealed within two spiraling translucent acrylic diffusers cased in fiberglass, colored LED modules are combined with white LEDs that emit light only on the underside.  Lower in energy consumption, cooler, smaller, and more durable than incandescent lights, the color-changing LEDs realize Hadid’s vision of seamless continuity.  The color of the chandelier changes continuously and almost imperceptibly, flowing though the helical tubes in what appears to be perpetual motion.  Vortexx is fitted with a programmable management system that allows the user to control the intensity and color of the light.

Crater Table | 2007
Designed for David Gill Galleries
Aluminum with polished finish, L 104 ¾” (266 cm)

Its sleek surface deformed with the volcano-like projections and bowl-shaped depressions that give the piece its name, Crater table has no precedent in the history of furniture.  Two of the crater rims overhang the table’s edge and extend toward the floor, providing the piece with support and balance.  Varied in appearance, the craters reflect Hadid’s interest in geomorphology and the tectonic forces that shape landforms into circular basins or conical summits, as well as her early and ongoing adoption of Russian Suprematist and Constructivist ideas, among them Kazimir Malevich’s principle that motion is central to the treatment of form.  Its curving supports hidden underneath, the tabletop appears to be suspended in space.

Moon System Sofa and Ottoman I 2007
Made by B&B Italia
Steel, cold-pressed polyurethane foam, nylon/polyurethane/spandex upholstery
L (sofa) 113 3/8” (288 cm), L (ottoman) 59 7/16” (151 cm)

B&B Italia was challenged by Hadid’s complex, curvilinear geometries, which give the Moon System sofa and ottoman their unusual boomerang shape and thin profile.  Circumscribed by a single, continuous dynamic line, the Moon System sofa required B&B Italia to use a CNC milling machine, which shaped and cut the polyurethane foam as a single block continuing the sofa’s back, seat, and armrests according to the exact specifications of Hadid’s three-dimensional computer model.  This direct-to-production manufacturing technique allowed Hadid’s original design concept – an assemblage of parts conceived as a singular production unit – to be fabricated with precision and economy of resource.

Glace Collection Jewelry | 2009
Made by Swarovski AG
Colored resin, Swarovski crystals in jet and crystal; L (cuff 1) 4 1/8” (10.5 cm), L (cuff 2) 4 5/16” (11 cm)

Devoid of clasps and closures, the Glace bracelets form asymmetrical, continuous loops that can be interlocked by means of embedded magnets.  They are designed by three-dimensional computer-generated modeling wherein digitized ribbons are combined and manipulated into directional flows through advanced mathematical calculation.  Swarovski then uses the computer model file to produce detailed molds into which the resin is poured; as the poured resin gradually hardens, crystals and stones are selectively suspended in it.

Celeste Necklace | 2008
Made by Swarovski AG
Made with Swarovski gemstones in topaz white, smoky quartz, and black spinel; blackened silver; L 16 15/16” (43 cm)

The silver Celeste necklace is similarly designed and cast according to curvilinear geometries that follow the form of the individual wearing it; the necklace rises from the wearer’s torso, wraps around her neck, and comes to rest on her shoulder.  Its accompanying cuff extends along the length of the forearm, continuing the formal movement of the composition.

Crevasse Vases | 2005
Stainless steel, PVD coating; H 16 9/16” (42 cm)
Silver: Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gift of Lisa S. Roberts, 2008-58-3 (left)

Crevasse is a direct offspring of Hadid’s City of Towers design representing visionary study models of skyscrapers for ground zero.  Conceived as twinned towers, the Crevasse vases are cut like the fissure the name suggests from a single block of stainless steel and scored along two diagonal lines at differing angles, creating a warped, inverted surface that appears to twist away from and merge with its twin at various points along the vertical axis.

This Zaha Hadid exhibition provided not only an opportunity for me to appreciate her innovative design objects, but to also immerse myself in an all-encompassing environment that reflects her exploration of architectural fluidity and form.

Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion will be at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until March 25, 2012.