Gallery Glider

Tripping the light fantastic

Robin Stanaway works with light, glass and space


A virtual “happening” is taking place in the studio loft of Robin Stanaway this July, when Stanaway will debut among other pieces, her glass installation “The River,” a “monumental, hand-blown glass and projected-light mobile,” as she calls the work.

Located at 1337 Gusdorf Road, suite N, a private reception for interested parties will be July 14, from 6-9 p.m. Call to be included on Friday’s guest list. A public opening is planned July 15, from 5-8 p.m.

Notably, during this installation “The River” will be hung upside-down — more like a river of sparkling thought rising to the heavens than a cascade flowing down to the sea as originally installed.

And this is not unusual for Stanaway, given her penchant for site-specific artwork created in ongoing dialogue with space and time. Her two-story loft is completely opposite the wide open foyer of the Pittsburgh Glass Center where she originally hung the mobile in 2002, created during her Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation fellowship, when she was the glass center’s first artist in residence. The loft requires a vertical dialectic and true to form, Stanaway adjusted the flow upward, adapting her process as the site demands.

Supercool LEDs project optimum vantage points of light at the 77-foot stream of variously cut blueish and green glass plates flowing upward along the stairwell to the second floor, where you almost expect a shimmery doorway into a shadow world of reflections.

When collectors Linda Malm and Donn Young saw Stanaway’s entry “Collective Corrective Vision No. 3,” which took second place last year in the Taos favorite Arte de Descartes show, Malm said the “social awareness and intelligence” evidenced there prompted them to commission Stanaway to create a piece for their Taos Canyon home.

Titled “Elementals,” Stanaway’s piece ultimately included blue-green glass “leaves,” a clear rondel, a glass “moon” and raven, all floating upon her signature surgical-steel hangers in a large glass-walled seating area overlooking a garden pond reflecting deep-space Taos skies.

After two months’ further collaboration with Young, adjusting lighting and and adding an intermittent fan, the piece’s personality emerges and morphs as it slowly dances with the elements of air, light, heat and reflecting windows, occasionally shooting a light ray across the ceiling, even to an outdoor hot tub.

In 1990 Stanaway received a Master of Fine Art in Glass Sculpture from Ohio State University; and in 1978 her BFA in Photography, Film and Intermedia from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She also studied and was a Teaching Assistant at glass guru Dale Chihuli’s Pilchuck Glass School in the late 1980s. She has been adjunct faculty, teaching associate and guest lecturer in Ohio, Pennsylvania, California and Massachusetts.

A Taos artist since 2005, Stanaway says she is an “experiential and conceptual” sculptor. Her installations in “glass, light, space (and sometimes sound)” include among others, exhibits at the P.S. 1 Museum and Contemporary Art Center, New York City; the NIME Conference in Paris, France; Stein in Amsterdam; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Steuben Gallery, New York; and Tucson Museum of Art.

Stanaway’s commissions include the “Luminaries,” a series of sculptures for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities; and “Genesis,” a site-specific installation in seven windows at the Temple Emanuel, in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. In 2005, she installed “Continuum,” a large-scale cast-glass and fabricated stainless steel public artwork in the lobby of the State Museum of Pennsylvania, just before relocating to Taos.

Taos actually has a long association with glass works. In 1999, Dale Chihuly jump-started Taos Glass Arts School, a “hot shop” for functional glasswork here. Perhaps more significantly is Taos artist Larry Bell’s decades-long perceptual inquiries of various translucency, first begun in his California Light and Space movement of the 1960s, which dovetailed with the nascent studio glass movement freeing glass artists from industrial glass factories to develop fine art.

“I used slides of Larry Bell’s work all the time to inspire my sculpture students in my 3-D foundations lectures,” Stanaway said, adding how shocked she was to find Bell living here in Taos. She also had no idea Mary Shaffer lived in Taos. Shaffer is the renowned inventor of mid-air glass slumping who was a guest lecturer when Stanaway taught at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She and Shaffer were both in “Calido!” a kiln-formed glass exhibition of 79 artists installed throughout the Tucson Museum of Art in 1997.

Stanaway really needs a bank or airport venue to do her large-scale work justice. Be sure to go by and marvel at “The River” during her Taos openings, or by appointment. For more, see Contact Stanaway at (575) 770-4426 or email