(Attleboro, Massachusetts, 1943 - )
2 1/2 x 3 x 3 in. (6.4 x 7.6 x 7.6 cm)
Collection of the Akron Art Museum
Gift of Annie and Mike Belkin
Paul Stankard reinvigorated the almost forgotten art of the glass paperweight and is widely acknowledged as its living master. The flora inside his clear glass globes and cubes may appear real but are made entirely of glass through a technique called flameworking. A gas oxygen torch is used to melt thin, colored glass rods, known as canes, which are manipulated in the flame with hand tools. When the individual pieces have been assembled, the sculpture is encapsulated in molten transparent glass, which cools around the delicate objects. Taking the traditional round, French-style paperweight as a point of departure, Stankard developed alternative forms that reward viewing from all sides including the bottom. He also put his skill as a realist sculptor to the service of his imagination. Entirely believable—but totally fictional—blossoms such as the Coronet Flower, St. Anthony’s Fire and Meadow Wreath were soon joined by words, mask-like faces and tiny figures. Stankard’s objects are infused with his own sense of spirituality; he says that he explores “the cycles of nature with wildflowers as a personal metaphor. The addition of tiny human forms and words as emblems allude to unseen forces of growth and decay.” In Stankard’s hands, the paperweight leaves the sphere of decorative art and enters the world of sculptural wonder.