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The latest Museum of Glass exhibit just might blow your mind

The exhibit in Tacoma celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Pilchuck Glass School. #k5evening

TACOMA, Wash. — A lenticular portrait that shape shifts as you move around it. 

A sculpture that comes to life with the help of your cell phone

And a colorful costume that was met with cheers when it made its debut on a gondola paddling down a canal in Venice.

These are just some of the works of art you'll find at the Museum of Glass exhibit "What Are You Looking At?", a celebration of the Pilchuck Glass School artists who did residencies in the museum's hot shop over the past 18 years.

"Our team is really skilled at helping artists get from 'Hey I have this thought' to a completed piece of artwork," says Museum of Glass curator Katie Buckingham who worked with the Pilchuck School on the exhibit.

"So what the exhibition became is their greatest hits list," says Buckingham. "Artists that are thinking interesting things and using glass in really unexpected ways."

 Einar and Jamex de la Torre of Mexico City did a residency at the museum in 2017 where they made expressive glass bottles, a tongue-in-cheek statement about alcoholism.

 When you visit their corner of the new exhibit you are surrounded by a world of imagination.

"They have spent their whole career building a vocabulary of images based on their childhood and their upbringing," says Buckingham, " to create amazing, wacky installations like this."

Seattle artist Ginny Ruffner, who taught at Pilchuck for eight years designed a blue glass chalice on a weekend in 2017 at the museum. She's now combining sculpture with augmented reality.

"As you walk up with your phone you can scan each of the three pads on these huge leaves and a variety of animals and birds will appear on each of the leaves," says Buckingham.

So many of the works here will expand your idea of what glass art can be. Many make the most of its translucence. There's also a great sense of fun here as artists explore.

'Ideas change," says Buckingham. "They fail. They are successful. They're not successful, and I think that the most interesting part of what are you looking at isn't necessarily that it is a linear." 

Ten years ago the visionary glass artist Laura Donefer took up residency at the Museum. She has since made a name for herself as organizer of an annual glass fashion show, coordinated with the Glass Art Society Conference.

"The fashion show is an example of what happens when all of those voices get into the same room.," says Buckingham ."It's always unexpected." 

The unexpected is exactly what you can expect on your next visit to the Museum of Glass.

"What Are You Looking At" runs through the Fall of 2022 at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

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