NANCY O'NEIL         


Public Art
Glass Blocks

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Heavy Rain Does Not Last All Day
Riverview Psychiatric Center, Augusta, ME

Copyright © 2004 Nancy Gutkin O'Neil
Please click to see additional images of project

Riverview Psychiatric Center, Augusta, ME
Percent for Art project

In their own words, "the Riverview Psychiatric Center, in collaboration with the community, is a center for best practice, treatment, education and research, for individuals with serious, persistent mental illness".

I was selected to create artwork for the hospital Chapel. I created three lightboxes, each16"x72"x8".

The title of my piece is "Heavy rain does not last all day." It is from Lao Tzu.

My intention with this piece of art was to instill a feeling of spirituality without reference to any particular religious denomination. I avoided using any overtly religious symbols and instead worked with forms and colors that I considered exquisite and that would have a universal appeal on a deeper, intuitive level. I chose colors and subject matter that I believed would resonate with many people, and that would have a calming but uplifting effect.

The design uses very beautiful mouthblown glass in rich, saturated colors. The pieces of glass are arranged to look like a weaving, with alternating colors and patterns. This repetition is intended to be rhythmic and soothing. Each of the “woven” segments is printed with a pattern from nature: leaves, branches, frost, water images and watery reflections. These are all printed on blues, greens and purples.

I included a grapevine pattern from a medieval illuminated manuscript, printed on a warm pinkish-red glass, to balance with the moody cool colors. Pristine white elements are introduced for contrast. These include a white egret, a paper nautilus (argonauta), a chrysanthemum, diatoms (marine unicellular plants), and a snowflake. The egret, nautilus and chrysanthemum all contain similar structural features and resemble each other. They are handpainted. The diatoms, snowflake and white grapevine segment are sandblasted and printed. Echoing the curved white natural forms is a section from a French celestial map from the 1700s, with lovely renderings of the constellations, including a winged Pegasus, whose wings echo the wings of the egret. (Courtesy of the Osher Map Library, USM)

I made very deliberate choices about everything in this design, so that nothing would be jarring or out of place. My hope is that people will enjoy this piece of art, that it will offer peace, comfort, and perhaps even joy in difficult times.

Project photos by Jon Bonjour